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Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West, Holly Cairns, has again highlighted the devastating mental toll that Covid-19 restrictions in maternity hospitals are having on expectant parents.

For the past number of months, Holly has been one of the most prominent voices in the campaign to have restrictions relaxed and today voiced her frustration at the continued lack of clarification on the issue from the Government.

Holly said:

“I spoke today at the Uplift virtual rally to change maternity care restrictions where a petition with over 50,000 signatures was handed in to the Government calling for more humane guidelines.

“This has been an ongoing issue for months that I have raised repeatedly in the Dáil with both the Taoiseach and Junior Minister for Health.

“Again, as we see an easing of restrictions in other sectors, there is little change for the lived reality of pregnant women and their partners. I have been assured that the National Women & Infants Health Programme is continually reviewing the guidelines. However, this highlights a more fundamental point about how people are treated in our maternity services.

“The safety of newborns and mothers has to be a priority, but the wellbeing of women in prolonged labour and parents receiving tragic news must also be considered.

“Since raising this issue in the Dáil several times since September, more and more people have been contacting me, often with harrowing stories. The families concerned appreciate that public health is important, but at this stage the restrictions are having a negative impact on the mental health of new mothers and their partners.

“I have been contacted by women who have received heartbreaking news alone and who had to phone their partner waiting outside in the carpark. I have also heard from fathers who had to leave their wives as they attended difficult appointments and procedures unaccompanied.

“Miscarriages and complications during pregnancy are beyond difficult in normal circumstances but are now made so much worse for both parents by these guidelines.

“The restrictions also impact on couples undergoing fertility treatment. Again, partners are not allowed to attend appointments and procedures, which is distressing for many.

“We cannot wait any longer as more women are going through these difficult journeys alone every day. There isn’t the same kind of organised lobby for maternity care like there is for the hospitality sector or sports organisations.

“These people need us all to speak out on their behalf until the Government listens.”

December 3, 2020

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