The HSE and South South/West Hospital Group (SSWHG) has been called on to review visiting restrictions at maternity hospitals in the wake of World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.
WHO has said it strongly recommends supporting women to have a chosen companion during labour and childbirth, including during Covid-19.
“When a woman has access to trusted emotional, psychological and practical support during labour and childbirth, evidence shows that both her experience of childbirth and her health outcomes can improve,” the organisation explained.
Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on the HSE and SSWHG to review current policies which mean partners are only able to attend for limited times during labour in light of the WHO’s recommendations.
“I completely sympathise with new parents, particularly pregnant women, who have had to endure isolation pre, during and post-birth of their new child,” he said.
“We believe the Minister must act swiftly to allow both parents to be present at appointments, in pre-labour wards, and at every opportunity where it can be safe to do so.
“The restrictions imposed to tackle Covid-19 have been very difficult for all, but few have been affected as much as new parents,” the Sinn Féin TD added.
“We had a son born in the CUH last October, and were very grateful for the very high standard of care, however I am thankful that I did not have to be subject to such restrictions, which are incredibly difficult.”
Mr Ó Laoghaire pointed to the ‘In our shoes Covid Pregnancy’ Facebook page, which he said is sharing “harrowing” stories of lonely labour journeys.
“It is clear women are suffering, and their partners are too, very significantly,” he explained.
“They feel excluded and isolated.
“The World Health Organisation believes that every woman has a right to a companion of choice during childbirth,” he added.
“The organisation strongly recommends supporting women to have a chosen companion during labour and childbirth, including during Covid-19.
“We are calling on the Minister for Health to re-evaluate the restrictions on new parents in hospitals and bring a new, compassionate approach to birth during Covid-19.
“We have reopened much of society now, and it is only fair that we allow new parents the opportunity to be present, provide emotional support, and share in the experience of new life.”