The Covid-19 pandemic restricted many things, such as seeing family and friends, travelling cross country, flying abroad, and attending nightclubs and pubs – but I believe one of the cruellest limitations that families have and are still facing, would have to be maternity restrictions at our hospitals.
Yes, I do understand the concern that healthcare workers may have by adding an extra person into the ward who may or may not be vaccinated, but women and transgender individuals need support as they bring new life into this world.
Pregnancy can be worrying, as is the birthing process. Last week, I turned on Raidió na Gaeltachta and listed to a woman from Donegal who explained that she went through three miscarriages. She is currently eight months pregnant; her partner is not allowed into the room and she is scared that she may miscarry again. This woman was in tears explaining her situation to the host and it left me feeling teary-eyed too.
How could the HSE and government deny people the opportunity to be with their partner and support them all the way?
As well as writing for The College View, I also write for local online newspaper, Meath Live, and have reported on the ‘Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services’ (AIMS) Ireland protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
Organiser Jene Hinds told me these restrictions have caused “immense distress in every corner in Ireland”. Hinds also revealed that she met a man who was in his car, awaiting news from a scan. It was just upsetting to hear what these families were going through.
These restrictions are absolutely bizarre. One can have an indoor gathering of 100 people, public transport is now operating at 100% capacity, not many universities are following the 2m social distance rule, etc., but hospitals cannot allow one extra person in the room? It does not make sense at all!
It is simply immoral, however, there have been some positive developments. The HSE said restrictions will begin to ease as people get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Once restrictions finally ease, partners or nominated support partners can be there for the 12- and 20-week scans, the birth itself, the immediate post-birth, (either in the labour ward or the theatre recovery area), as long as they don’t have Covid-19 or Covid-19 like symptoms.
However, I will believe it when I see it, as Minister Stephen Donnelly did promise that maternity restrictions would ease at hospitals in May, it’s October now and we are still discussing this issue.