A Cork woman has spoken out about her experience of having to attend hospital alone last year following a miscarriage and how she had to provide updates to her husband via text message.
Rioghnach Elliott from Cork, who attended a protest against maternity restrictions outside Cork University Maternity Hospital yesterday, described a “massive disconnect” for many fathers.
“He wasn’t able to go to the eight-week scan that I had for that baby. So, he never got to see that baby - at all,” she said.
After becoming pregnant again, Ms Elliott was informed that there was no heartbeat while attending a scan alone.
Ms Elliot noted the difficulty in coming to terms with the news alone and a lack of closure for many fathers.
Speaking on her reasons for attending the protest Ms Elliott said: “I just want to show support for every single woman and for every single father because I think they have been completely disregarded in all of this.
Ms Elliot was one of a number of people who took part in a protest against maternity restrictions outside CUMH yesterday.
The Association for Improvements in Maternity Services Ireland (AIMS Ireland) who organised the protest said that it has been in contact with the Minister for Health, HSE and individual maternity units and hospital groups since March 2020 seeking evidence that supports restrictions be published.
Maria O’Sullivan, a Cork-based representative for the group, explained the timing of the protests, which also took place in other areas nationally this week, stating that “enough is enough”.
“We’ve had thousands of families contacting us over the last year.
“Our support person is inundated with very sad stories between women being on their own during times of miscarriage or being on their own when they are getting bad news.”
She said that they are calling for a “uniform” approach across the country and an end to the restrictions. Earlier this week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the advice to maternity hospitals is that access for partners should be expanded, but local considerations, such as where there are Covid outbreaks, must also be considered.
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire yesterday raised with the Taoiseach the need to re-examine the issue.
The Sinn Féin TD urged the Taoiseach to look beyond the 20-week scan and the neo-natal access “and to direct hospitals to put in place minimum standards of partner access that are applied across all hospitals”.
Last week, a spokesperson for CUMH said that on March 29, the hospital introduced a new Visitors App that allows outpatient pregnant women to nominate a partner to attend an upcoming anatomy appointment, and on April 29, the hospital opened up visiting for nominated partners on all wards for one hour per day.
“We plan to extend the visiting time in the near future when we feel it is safe to do so. Our priority during this pandemic is always to protect mothers, babies and staff,” they added.