Confirmation from the HSE that birth partners will be able to attend births during level five of Covid restrictions is to be welcomed, a Fine Gael TD has said.
However, Deputy Neale Richmond has stressed that compassionate pragmatism must allow birth partners to attend pre and post-natal appointments, as well as allow immediate post-natal visits.
Deputy Richmond said: “Throughout these very difficult times, our maternity hospitals have worked amazingly to reduce Covid exposures while maternity hospital staff from midwives to doctors to porters have provided wonderful care for new Mums and other patients.
“That said, there is still huge concern amongst many expectant mothers and their partners about what to expect when it is time for the birth.
“I was very grateful to receive clarity on the floor of the Dáil on Friday from the Minister that under level five Covid restrictions, birth partners are allowed to attend the birth of a child as well as to attend in critical, child centred and compassionate circumstances.
“To be quite frank, every aspect of the birth of a child can be described as critical and there is a genuine need for a birth partner’s presence under so many compassionate circumstances.
“It is not just for the birth itself but for the twenty week scan as well as pre and post-natal appointments that can often be very difficult.
“An expectant mum should have their partner with them if a scan may have bad news or a decision needs to be made. A new mum that has gone through a traumatic birth should not be left alone without their partner for days on end. Why can a new Dad only see their child if they are in neonatal ICU?.
“A birth partner is often the mum’s voice at the birth as well as at the various pre and post-natal appointments, their presence is vital whether it is the baby’s father, the new mum’s wife, a family member or other birth partner.
“Unlike the previous lockdown, so many health services are able to continue this time despite the restrictions. Our wonderful healthcare staff are working phenomenally under very difficult circumstances but surely we can also accommodate birth partners in a compassionate and practical manner now too?
“No woman should have to go through this process alone. It is vital that the HSE continue to instruct maternity hospitals to act in a realistic fashion. Birth partners should not just be considered additional footfall, they are a vital part of the birth process,” Deputy Richmond concluded.