Experts concerned about the impact maternity restrictions will have on mothers and families
"Considerable risks to perinatal mental health due to the pandemic."
The Psychological Society of Ireland is concerned about Ireland's current COVID-19 restrictions and the impact they will have on pregnant women and their family's mental health.
The restrictions placed on the country's maternity hospitals have caused huge uproar over the past few months.
The PSI stressed that the restrictions have caused unnecessary stress and anxiety for pregnant women, their partners, and their families.
They stated: "The ongoing maternity restrictions, in particular the exclusion of partners and support persons from maternity service, have been highlighted as a cause of increasing distress among pregnant women, fathers, partners, and families.
“While restrictions have been eased across some hospitals, they continue to remain across many hospitals in Ireland," they added.
They explained that women should be allowed to have their partner or birthing partner in the room when they're giving birth.
They said the support they offer is immeasurable: "Birthing partners provide vital emotional and physical support for women in the hospital environment during all appointments, and particularly labour. Continuous support during labour has been shown to improve outcomes for women and infants such as decreased birth—interventions and shorter labour."
“Preliminary research is indicating considerable risks to perinatal mental health due to the pandemic. It is important to consider that ongoing restrictions compound, and likely exacerbate, mental health difficulties elicited by the presence of a global pandemic.”
They added: "All women have a right to give birth in an environment which is both psychologically and clinically safe. The PSI SIGPIMH would argue that those tasked with weighing up risk consider the current psychological risks continued maternity restrictions pose for families."
They believe "the current restrictions likely increase the risk to parents’ and infants’ psychological wellbeing."
Last week, maternity campaigners said pregnant women felt like second-class citizens due to the restrictions in maternity hospitals.
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.
“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.
“What is really clear is that this issue around maternity services isn’t working,” she commented.