Who We Are
— Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is centred on the concept of midwifery being at the heart of a social, as opposed to a medical, model of care. We believe that childbearing is a significant event for every family and that every mother has the right to a safe and satisfying experience.

 

At the core of our philosophy is the belief that a woman’s body is designed to nurture and grow her baby during pregnancy, to birth her baby through her own efforts, and to care for and nurture her baby after birth.

We believe that social support provided by continuous midwifery care is the optimum framework within which women can achieve normal physiological birth.

In the absence of disease, we seek to facilitate and foster a non-intrusive, non-interventionist approach to birth where women are supported to move through labour and birth at their own pace.

We promote normal physiological childbirth by recognising, respecting and safeguarding normal birth processes. This, we believe, is best achieved in a relaxed, informal environment where individualised and family-centred maternity care is provided with a strong emphasis on skilled, sensitive and respectful midwifery care.

Who We Are
— The People

The founder and Director of the Birth Centre, Philomena Canning MSc, RM, RN, is a midwife with over 28 years of experience. Her interest in the social and cultural value of women’s autonomy and control in childbirth was inspired by her practice in a variety of cross-cultural contexts including Britain, the Middle East, and Aboriginal Central Australia. She has practiced as a self-employed midwife in Dublin providing a homebirth service since 2000.

 

The Birth Centre is a centre of excellence in midwifery. Our service is provided by a team of dedicated, highly trained and skilled midwives whose caring attributes embody our philosophy.

We work closely together to provide a professional and family-focused service that is marked by high standards of care, support, empathy, respect and trust.

We are passionate about midwifery care and childbirth, and about the value to our society of a positive and fulfilling experience of the birth of a new baby in the family.

Our priority is the safety of the mother and baby and we utilise our depth of knowledge and experience to safeguard normal physiological birth processes and to facilitate timely medical intervention when it is indicated.

We are regulated by the Nurses & Midwives Board, the Health Service Executive, and the Health Information & Quality Authority. We engage in peer and consumer review, continuous professional development, and regular training in emergency procedures and life support skills to maintain the highest standards of safe practice.

We welcome the participation of student midwives to observe and learn from our practice and we actively engage in sharing our knowledge and skills within our profession to promote sustainable women-centred maternity care for the future.

Who We Are
— What Alukura Means

This painting, an oil on canvas, was gifted to the founder and Director of Alukura House, Philomena Canning, by the Pitjantjatjara women of the Central Australian Desert with whom she worked as a midwife. The artist, Itjiwali, represents the traditional beliefs and practices of Aboriginal women in childbirth and appeals for the development of culturally appropriate woman-centred care in childbirth for women globally.

 

Alukura

Aboriginal women, whose name means "the very first, from the beginning, of the source", believe that health and wellbeing in childbirth is the outcomes of good feelings signalled by harmonious social relationships, the absence of fear or insecurity, and correct observation of the Grandmother’s Law.

According to the Grandmother’s Law, childbirth is the sacred, secret and exclusive preserve of women. The painting depicts the footsteps of the mother in childbirth leaving the wider tribal group to go to the Alukura. Meaning ‘place of birth’, the Alukura is a temporary shelter in the bush at a safe distance from the distractions and daily activities of tribal life. Providing shelter, warmth and security, the birth environment guards and promotes the privacy and dignity of the mother in childbirth. On her own land and ancestral home, the familiarity of the Alukura is believed to enable the mother in childbirth to submit to the powers of her birth-giving forces.

Attended in childbirth by her grandmother and sisters-in-law, the Grandmother’s Law provides for the appropriate social and emotional support of the mother in childbirth that underpins and facilitates physical health and safety. The love of her grandmother is paramount; so too is the guidance and reassurance derived from her grandmother’s wisdom, experience, and confidence in women’s power and capacity in childbirth. Her sisters-in-law, having a vested interest in the wellbeing of their brother’s child, provide the healing hands that meet her needs while at the same time their relationship is sufficiently removed emotionally to permit the uninterrupted flow of her forces and power in birth.

The knowledge, control, and authority vested in Aboriginal women by the Grandmothers’ Law shape the meaning and experience of childbirth as an event that weaves together heaven and earth, women and men, nature and humanity, to make long-term cultural survival and prosperity possible. Childbirth is the rebirth of a Dreamtime spirit. Born onto the ground, the invisible threads that bind and integrate the body, land and Dreamtime spirit world is celebrated in the sacred ritual of birth. The place of birth thus identifies the child’s spirituality and, accordingly, rights and responsibilities within a sophisticated kinship structure; to the land; and to creation in the Dreamtime are conferred by the Grandmother’s Law for a harmonious existence that has secured the survival of Aboriginal people as the oldest living culture on our planet.

Nurtured and cared for by their kin women relations, the mother and baby rest in the Alukura after birth. The healing of the child’s umbilicus and cessation of the mother’s bleeding conclude the sacred and secret ritual of the Grandmother’s Law when the footprints of the mother in the sand are seen returning with her new baby to the wider tribal group. The artist communicates just how profound a toll colonisation has had on Aboriginal society. The medicalization of childbirth has eroded women’s traditional sources of status and power within their own society and has created a void in contemporary Aboriginal women’s knowledge. The inner fear, loneliness, and shame associated with childbirth in the male-dominated industrial model of western maternity hospitals miles from their homeland has broken their vision of the intersecting threads that childbirth represents, leaving only a world of isolated things that undermines their wellbeing and survival.

At the heart of the painting the alienation and powerlessness of women in childbirth is resolved. Seated at a table with books by their side, Aboriginal and Western women share their knowledge, traditions and skills in childbirth. Through mutual learning and understanding, the artist represents her faith and hope for a better future where culturally appropriate woman-centred maternity care can be developed as women in global partnership reclaim their power and control in childbirth.