Campaigners plan protest over maternity restrictions

Campaigners plan protest over maternity restrictions

MATERNITY care campaigners are preparing to protest as they call for an end to to restrictions in all maternity hospitals across the country.

MATERNITY care campaigners are preparing to protest as they call for an end to to restrictions in all maternity hospitals across the country.

The #BetterMaternityCare Campaign will next month host a march aimed at ending restrictions on partner access in maternity hospitals.

The March for Maternity will take place in Dublin on October 6.

Cork-based #BetterMaternityCare campaigner Linda Kelly said the protest is in “response to the ongoing inaction” on the issue from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

“We have tried to talk to people. We have tried to lobby, we have tried to move this on, it’s just not moving far enough fast enough,” she said.

“All of the rest of society is opening… and yet the hospitals are continuing to restrict partner access.”

Last week, the campaign held an online event boycotting a TV documentary filmed at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital at a time when strict visitor restrictions were in place.

The event heard about the lived experiences of women attending maternity services across the country.

The campaign group is now also preparing to meet with the HSE in the coming days.

“At this stage, we are looking for the minister to intervene and to direct all hospitals to go back to pre-pandemic access for one nominated support partner,” said Ms Kelly. “We think that’s very doable.”

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on the Government to urgently act to ensure pre-pandemic levels of maternity access for all partners.

Mr O Laoghaire last week joined the campaign’s online event, which heard from women who had been pregnant or given birth during the pandemic. He described the stories as heartbreaking.

“It is long past time to get back to pre-pandemic access for partners.

“They are not visitors, but essential support. The WHO [World Health Organisation] and CMO [chief medical officer] agree.

“The days of labouring alone, of recovering from birth alone, of experiencing heartbreaking news alone, need to end.”

Last month, Cork University Maternity Hospital eased additional restrictions at the hospital, including allowing partners on the ward with the mother post-delivery for one hour and allowing unrestricted inpatient visiting from 3pm to 8pm each day for partners.

Partners can also now attend early pregnancy scans, the 12-week scan, and anatomy scan.

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