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'Words can't describe it' - fury at maternity ward restrictions

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Kodaline’s Vinny May

Kodaline’s Vinny May

Kodaline’s Vinny May

Restrictions will remain in place at Ireland's maternity hospitals for the time being despite an outpouring of anger by expectant mothers and their partners over having to endure miscarriages alone.

RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline has been flooded with calls over the past two days by people expressing their anger and heartbreak over Covid-19 restrictions.

In particular they were furious at rules that prevent partners or other family of expectant mothers from being at her side except during the final stages of labour or under exceptional circumstances.

A woman named Sharon who recently miscarried said she assumed her husband would be allowed to attend the hospital when she started to bleed heavily.

But he had to wait outside in a waiting room while she endured the ordeal on her own.

"I couldn't even speak. Words can't even describe how bad it is," she said. "If I could have held his hand I wouldn't have been crying so much - I was crying for him and for the baby."

Another woman named Kate who suffered a miscarriage during her first pregnancy in July said her partner had to sit in the car while she learned that her baby's heart had stopped beating. She said it was "the worst half hour of my life".

Sadness

Kodaline drummer Vinny May also revealed his sadness and frustration at not being able to attend any appointments or support his partner Karina during her pregnancy. They are expecting their first baby in two weeks.

"I had hoped I could hold her hand and help her through it. These guidelines - we keep our social interactions to a minimum, we wear masks… it seems not thought-out that a mother's support system can't be there," he said.

But both the HSE and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said that while they fully appreciate how difficult the restrictions are, and they are under constant review, they are necessary to ensure the safety of all concerned.

"Priority number one must be safety and keeping this deadly virus out of our maternity hospitals. This is a matter of safety for mothers, babies, and staff," INMO general secretary Phil Ní Shéaghdha told the Herald.

"Everyone understands the huge difficulty in not having a loved partner with mothers through every step of the process and hopefully the measures can be lifted soon.

"But that is a decision for trained professionals in the maternity hospitals, who can take into account safety for staff, mothers and babies.

"It should not be a decision made on the grounds of public pressure."