08th Sep 2020
After a birth instructor’s tweet went viral, the Lord Mayor of Dublin has asked for pregnant women to tell their stories and called on maternity hospitals to ease restrictions, allowing partners more access to appointments
After hearing tragic stories from pregnant women forced to face doctor appointments and vital scans alone, certified ‘gentle birth’ instructor Sarah Flynn decided to speak out.
“Have just received a message from a pregnant lady which has broken my heart and I couldn’t not try and raise her points as they are very valid,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Why, in the midst of the valid noise about pubs etc, is nobody talking about maternity care and the raw deal pregnant women are getting?”
Her tweet gained national attention, including that of the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
Hazel Chu responded to Flynn, saying she has asked pregnant women to share their lockdown experiences and will send their stories to masters at maternity hospitals, asking for restrictions of not allowing partners to attend to be lifted.
National Maternity Hospital
In response, some restrictions at the largest maternity hospital in the country have already been lifted.
Professor Shane Higgins of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in Dublin said partners are now allowed to visit new mothers once a day and are allowed unrestricted visits to the neonatal unit.
Speaking on RTÉ‘s Drivetime, Higgins said he recognised how difficult it has been for mothers during this unsettling time and aimed to lift more restrictions soon.
He said he has “no doubt that some women may have received bad news while they were on their own” and is trying to determine “what was feasible and reasonable and minimise the risk to staff and patients”.
Higgins also said there is very little evidence to show that Covid-19 poses a risk to a baby in utero.
“In a study of over 600 patients, using the cord blood of babies, very few had any evidence that infection had passed from mum to baby,” he explained.
“We are hoping to continue to revise our restrictions on visiting and attendance at visits to allow as many couples to come together to as many visits as possible.”
The hospital’s next step would be allowing partners to attend the 20-week scan, known as the ‘anomaly scan’, as it conducts a full examination of the foetus’ developing body.
20-week anomaly scan
“The big scan, the 20-week anomaly scan is probably the next rollback of those restrictions that we are going to see here at the NMH,” he said.
“That is a key scan that we will start to allow partners to come in to. We have our next meeting this Wednesday morning.”
If this is approved, this and additional changes could come as early as this week.
Meanwhile, Chu has been collecting ‘heartbreaking’ stories from pregnant women’s lockdown experiences to send to the masters at the Rotunda and the Coombe and the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
“Folks, if you are pregnant or [have] given birth during Covid can you send an email to [email protected] on your experience,” she asked on Twitter.
“I will be collating all feedback to send onto the various hospital masters and the Minister with an ask that restrictions need urgent review to support women.”
Hopefully, other hospitals will follow the NMH’s lead and review the strict restrictions placed on partners’ hospital visits and prioritise the mental wellbeing of pregnant women during the pandemic.
Read more: GPs and crèches are turning children without negative Covid-19 tests away. Parents are in for a long and challenging winter
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