Partners of pregnant women to remain excluded in some hospitals

Partners of pregnant women to remain excluded in some hospitals

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said great emphasis has been put on the economic and social impacts of the pandemic but the mental health of pregnant women and their partners has not been considered. Picture: Gareth Chaney

Partners of expectant mothers will continue to be excluded from scans and early labour in some regions as not all hospitals will be able to include them under new Government plans.

Pregnant women have been subjected to a "postcode lottery" of restrictions since Covid-19 hit, although the Government conceded “local circumstances” may see different policies around visitors continue in some hospitals.

Plans due to be announced this week will aim to introduce nationwide guidelines, but a spokesperson for Taoiseach Micheál Martin said an end to the regional differences, which has seen different rules depending on the hospital a woman attends, cannot be fully guaranteed.

Dr Peter McKenna, clinical director for the National Women and Infants Health Programme, is working on guidelines for the country's maternity hospitals.

The spokesperson added that the document would seek to ensure a consistent national approach to visitor restrictions in maternity hospitals "as far as is practicable and having due regard to local circumstances".

Responding to queries from the Irish Examiner, the Government has admitted it may not be able to end the differing maternity restrictions across hospitals as it scrambles to come up with standardised guidelines.

Approximately 30,000 babies have been born in Ireland since the pandemic hit in March.

There are now serious concerns the varying restrictions in maternity hospitals are having a massive impact on the mental health of women and their partners.

Calling for an easing of the restrictions, which have led to some women learning of the loss of a child without the support of their partner, Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns hit out at a lack of political will to address the issue.

Ms Cairns said great emphasis has been put on the economic and social impacts of the pandemic but the mental health of pregnant women and their partners has not been considered.

Hundreds of women and their partners have contacted the Cork South West TD with harrowing stories since she raised the subject in the Dáil last week.

"It's just heartbreaking. I think people have a right to be there for the birth of their child," Ms Cairns said.

Ms Cairns said the Government has put great effort into the reopening of pubs and allowing people attend sporting events, but there are  still no standard guidelines in place for maternity services, over six months after the pandemic hit.

Obviously time has to be taken to draw up the guidelines but every day that they are not in place is a day too long for women who have to go through this alone.

Meanwhile, Dr Ronan Glynn, the acting chief medical officer, has warned that Covid-19 is now spreading "disproportionately" among young people.

A total of 334 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Tuesday evening, 174 of which were in Dublin.

Dr Glynn said: "Despite accounting for just a quarter of the population, people aged 15 and 34 years of age account for 40% of Covid-19 cases in the past two months."

While he said this is not surprising as young people are more likely to be moving about in the community, he asked that they now set an example.

Separately, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is restricting his movements after his French counterpart tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Donohoe and Bruno Le Maire both attended a Eurogroup meeting in Berlin on September 11.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.