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Calls for maternity hospitals to end 'traumatic limbo'

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A petition was delivered with 50,000 signatures yesterday

A petition was delivered with 50,000 signatures yesterday

A petition was delivered with 50,000 signatures yesterday

Campaigners has called for "traumatic" maternity hospital restrictions to be lifted to protect the mental health of women and their birth partners during Covid-19.

Yesterday, a petition with more than 50,000 signatures was delivered to Cork University Maternity Hospital.

It called for partners to be allowed to attend for antenatal appointments and scans, for the duration of labour and after birth on the postnatal ward.

The petition will also be delivered to other maternity hospitals in the coming days.

It was organised by Caroline Cumming, a healthcare worker who is pregnant with her third child.

At the moment, most women must attend antenatal appointments alone.

Partners are also not allowed to attend during the earlier stages of labour.

Visits are also restricted after birth when the mother and baby are required to stay in the hospital.

Speaking at an online "rally" against the restrictions yesterday, Ms Cumming insisted the rules were causing major stress and upset.

"At this stage of the pandemic, with the knowledge and the resources we have, there absolutely must be a way to safely allow partners to accompany women at all times, and to give them the support that they need after the birth of their babies," Ms Cumming said.

"Nobody is asking for general visitors to be given free access to hospitals. We just don't consider fathers and husbands as general visitors.

Ms Cumming's petition was hosted by Uplift Ireland. Uplift carried out a survey of more than 700 people, including 500 women who either are pregnant or had given birth during the pandemic.

The women surveyed had attended 14 of the 19 maternity units across Ireland.

Asleep

A quarter of those surveyed disagreed that maternity services had "endeavoured to enable partners to be present at the birth of their child so that no women goes through labour alone".

The survey also included stories from women who had been left without their partners after labour.

One woman detailed how she had been left alone in the hospital without her partner following a caesarean section.

The woman had fallen asleep with a baby in her arms, and the baby had fallen off the bed.

"I hadn't slept in 48 hours and I was exhausted and fell asleep with her on my chest.

"I didn't have the help of my partner as he was asked to leave the hospital 20 minutes after our daughter was born," the woman said.

In one case a woman's breastfeeding was affected as she struggled to walk to the ward's water station as she had had an episiotomy and did not want to leave baby alone.

The survey also found that a number of people were choosing to pay for private ultrasound scans to try to ensure they could bring their partners with them.

Speaking at the rally, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "Pregnant women cannot be left in this awful, painful, hurtful traumatic limbo."


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