Cork South-West TD for the Social Democrats, Holly Cairns, is continuing to put pressure on the Government to have Covid-19 restrictions lifted in maternity hospitals.

Holly, who has been one of the most prominent voices in highlighting the issue, said:

“It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the mental toll that these restrictions are having on mothers and their partners.

“Since bringing this issue up in the Dáil twice in as many weeks, more and more people have been contacting me, many with heartbreaking stories.

“It is clear that the current restrictions need to be regularly revised and the results shared in a transparent manner. The families concerned appreciate that public health is a priority but at this stage the restrictions are having a negative impact on the mental health of new mothers and their partners.

“Some women have received heartbreaking news alone and have had to phone their partner waiting outside in the carpark. In other cases, fathers have had to let their wives or partners attend difficult appointments and procedures unaccompanied.

“Even under normal circumstances, miscarriages or other complications are extremely difficult – but now these tragic situations are made so much worse for both parents.

“Now that many pubs are open and some events can go ahead, it’s difficult to understand why partners cannot attend these incredibly important occasions.

“In addition, research has shown that one of the biggest factors for paternal bonding is the level of involvement in prenatal care, which many fathers are now missing out on.

“These ongoing restrictions also impact on couples undergoing fertility treatment. Again, partners are not allowed to attend appointments and procedures, which is very distressing.

“The Taoiseach gave me a commitment that he would bring the matter up with the acting Chief Medical Officer. I have since learned that the National Women and Infants Health Programme is preparing a document for a consistent national approach to restrictions in maternity hospitals.

“However, there is also reference to ‘having due regard to local circumstances’, a vague line that is too often rolled out. I am continuing to seek greater transparency and flexibility on this issue. No-one should have to be alone during labour unless it is strictly necessary.

“There isn’t the same kind of organised lobby for maternity care as there is for the hospitality sector or sporting organisations. That is why parents need us all to speak out for them – hopefully the Government will listen.”

September 23, 2020

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