Pregnant women attending maternity appointments must be allowed to access support from partners or family members, despite restrictions on the number of visitors to hospital appointments in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, patients attending antenatal appointments or the Early Pregnancy Unit in Drogheda and at many hospitals across the country are requested to attend on their own.
Birth partners are only allowed on the labour ward, the Midwifery Led Unit or the postnatal ward.
Dundalk-Carlingford councillor Andrea McKevitt tabled a motion at Monday’s September meeting of Louth County Council held at St Gerard’s Hall in Dundalk, calling on the local authority to write to the HSE and the management of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to urge them to change their policy on allowing partners or family members to attend maternity related appointments.
Her motion, which was unanimously passed, read; ‘That Louth County Council write to the HSE and in particular the management of Our Lady Of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to allow pregnant women have their partners or nominated family member present at all maternity appointments and at all times during labour as well as requesting all measures are put in place to make this possible.’
Speaking at the meeting, the Riverstown-based representative said pregnant women and their partners deserved better as hospitals have implemented restrictions on the numbers of additional visitors that can attend the hospital for visiting or appointment purposes.
“The last six months have been a challenging time for each and every one of us, and we all fear even more difficult times lie ahead, but spare a thought for pregnant women their partners and family who have suffered a miscarriage during this period or concerning news about the health of their unborn child.
“Then picture these ladies in an ultrasound appointment; the room suddenly becomes busy with traffic of doctors and nurses, whispers fill the air, and then they break the heart-breaking news – ‘I am sorry we can’t find a heartbeat’ – this is anybody’s worst nightmare, and then they are all alone in this room, no hand to hold no shoulder to cry on, nobody to console this burning pain.
“Instead the lady must now gather herself and walk the lonely walk to the hospital exit, thoughts of what-ifs, and crushed dreams consume her mind and how she must now break the devastating news to others.
“I fully understand we are living in the midst of a global pandemic, of which there is no sign of ending soon.
“However parents of unborn babies deserve better and I believe if we if public servants can do anything to help then we should do just that, and that is why I am calling on Louth County Council to write to the HSE and in particularly Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to reconsider the procedures presently in place in light of Covid-19 to allow for the father of the unborn baby or a nominated family member attend all maternity appointments with the expectant mother.”
Party colleague Cllr John Sheridan and Independent Cllr Maeve Yore were among those to support the motion while Sinn Féin councillor Antoin Watters, who’s wife Fionnghuala is pregnant with the couple’s second child and due to give birth in six weeks, told the meeting how the restrictions effected their lives.