Under the current Maternity Care restrictions in Ireland, fathers and partners of expectant mothers are not allowed to be present during her doctor's appointments or be by her side throughout the entirety of the labour process.
The restrictions were drafted up six months ago, during the height of the COVID-19 Lockdown, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. But with restaurants, shops, gyms, and now pubs on the cusp of reopening, expectant mothers wish to have the right to their partners being present during an incredibly stressful time. In response to these restrictions still remaining in place in Ireland, a maternity care petition was set up one week ago. The campaign was created by Caroline Cumming.
Caroline explains on the petition page why she has taken it upon herself to raise awareness for pregnant Irish mothers. She writes: "While we understand that these restrictions may have been necessary 6 months ago when the pandemic first emerged, we seriously question why they are not being revised and eased along with many of the other lifted restrictions across the broader society.
"To continue to deny women the emotional support of a partner throughout her labour at this stage, when schools, restaurants and gyms are open and flights abroad are accessible, seems unnecessarily cruel.
"Surely a partner correctly dressed in PPE poses no greater threat to maternity hospital staff than the woman herself, and if restrictions on other public spaces can be lifted, then it should be a matter of urgency that these restrictions that cause such distress and impinge on the human rights of couples be revised in light of the current situation around the country."
At the time of writing, the petition is currently just a few hundred signatures shy of its 35,000 goal.
Under the current HSE guidelines, which were last updated on August 31, the "During Birth and Labour" section reads: "In most cases, your partner can be there for the delivery. Every effort will be made to ensure your partner is present at the birth. But in some hospitals, this may not be possible. Any restrictions in place are to keep everyone safe."
The maternity care petition can be found on the Uplift.ie website.