– Birth partners should be reclassified as ‘essential accompanying person’ instead of ‘visitor’ for all stages of the maternity journey, says Holly Cairns TD

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has called on the Taoiseach to take a uniformed approach to restrictions at maternity hospitals when he announces the phased reopening of the country.

Holly said:

“Previous announcements by the Government have focused on business, sport and travel but have neglected to provide clarity for expectant parents, who have faced widely inconsistent restrictions at maternity hospitals since last year.

“This has resulted in partners not being able to attend for important scans or be present for the entire labour. This causes extreme stress and anxiety, particularly in cases where there are complications in the pregnancy.

“In early December, the HSE reclassified partners as an ‘essential accompanying person’ for the 20-week scan – yet they are still considered as unessential for later scans and for the majority of labour. Partners are not visitors at the birth of their own child and women should not be expected to go through their pregnancy journey alone.

“Prospective parents continue to face a geographical lottery, with restrictions varying from hospital to hospital around the country. The right to attend the birth of your child should not be determined by where you live.

“I have repeatedly called on the Government and HSE to agree standardised restrictions at maternity hospitals. As we get set to reopen the country, I am hopeful that this overlooked area will be given the attention it so truly deserves.”

April 29, 2021

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