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12th Aug 2021

Pregnant people feel like “second class citizens”, maternity advocate says

Kat O'Connor

Pregnant people feel like “second-class citizens”, according to maternity advocates.

The current maternity hospital restrictions have come under fire, despite the Rotunda Hospital explaining why they’re in place.

Linda Kelly, who advocates for better maternity care, has called for a road map to be put in place so pregnant people have a better idea of when restrictions will ease.

She said, “This has to be looked at. We all feel like second-class citizens.”

“Every other hospital is also not compliant in some area. Women and families are being left to navigate this situation so we have to come up with a better solution.”

The mum, who was one of the thousands who had to give birth with restrictions in place, said, “We are calling on the Cabinet sub-committee (on Covid-19) to publish a road map at the end of August to reopen, and that they include a dedicated road map for maternity so we know how we will come out of this situation.”

She said PCR or antigen tests should also be introduced so partners can attend appointments and births without the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Ms Kelly said that the situation is causing distress, anxiety, and depression for parents-to-be.

She claimed: “There hasn’t been a consistent approach from the HSE as to why they are continuing to exclude partners from certain aspects of maternity care.”

“The HSE is saying partners can be there for the labour, but they are not allowed in for the early labour and someone could be like that for 12 hours or 24 hours. The birth is an unknown and it can be really distressing, anything can happen and to know you are going to be on your own is really what causes a huge amount of distress and anxiety,” she explained.

The news comes after The Rotunda Hospital explained that their restrictions are in place for two main reasons, low vaccine uptake, and poor infrastructure.

However, Ms Kelly believes more needs to be done to support pregnant people and their families.

“What is really clear is that this issue around maternity services isn’t working,” she stressed.