A Cork father-to-be has described the prevention of partners of pregnant women from attending routine 20 to 22 week scans at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) as “frustrating and upsetting”.
The decision, which comes into effect from January 11, was made by the South/South West Hospital Group in light of the worsening situation in relation to Covid-19 in hospitals across the region.
The group said it is “very mindful of the distress these restrictions may cause and in line with national guidance” and measures will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
Rob Armstrong and his wife are expecting their first child in 12 weeks time and the only time Mr Armstrong will have stepped foot in the hospital with his wife will be on the day of his child’s birth.
Mr Armstrong has been unable to attend any scans throughout his wife’s pregnancy which has been particularly tough for the couple who previously experienced a misscarriage.
He said it was “upsetting and frustrating” that he could not attend the 20 week scan in particular to support his wife during what was an already stressful time.
“We were very lucky there was nothing wrong with our baby, but statistically not everyone is going to go in there and get good news and if you're going to get bad news you don't want to be there on your own, you want to have that support system with you,” he said.
CUMH said that they are sensitive to specific situations regarding pregnancy loss, stillbirth and unexpected complications with all patients who receive a pregnancy loss diagnosis offered the opportunity for her partner to attend at that time and at all subsequent visits.
However, Mr Armstrong said that such support is also needed during scans where abnormalities may be detected.
He also raised concerns about the restrictions that remain in place after birth, explaining that if such restrictions are in place at the time his wife gives birth, that he will have to go home once she returns to the ward and won’t see his baby until his wife is discharged.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O'Laoghaire said that the issue has been “far too low a priority from the Government when you consider some of the things that were allowed when this wasn't”.
“It's not just emotionally important, it is also in my view clinically important and the WHO agrees that women have access to their partner to support them and that has good outcomes,” he said.
Deputy O'Laoghaire said that rising cases of Covid-19 at CUH has led to the need for “very immediate considerations” scans with partners present should be resumed “as soon as is possible”.