'He is my rock and I need his support' - Mum to be speaks out

A local mother to be who is due to give birth at Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar in the coming weeks says that she is devastated to hear that the hospital has opted not to provide support partners with open access in line with new HSE guidelines introduced nationwide this week.

Two weeks ago the HSE issued new guidelines advising that fathers to be and other support partners be granted open access from 8am to 9pm from November 1. However, the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed yesterday that it would not be implementing the new guidelines as "there remains significant risk in the spread of Covid-19 in the community”.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, first time mother Mary* said that when the announcement was made that restrictions would be eased for support partners, she and her husband were "hugely relieved". However, this relief was replaced by anger this week when they learned that the MRH Mullingar would not be implementing the new guidelines. She says that "something needs to be done" to get the hospital's management to reverse their decision.

"I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and have done for years, thankfully I am doing well but I am booked in to be induced in the coming weeks.

"Currently my husband is not allowed in whilst I am in latent labour and is only allowed to join me when I am in active labour, so 3cm to 4cm dilated.

"We are first time parents to be with not a notion what to expect. I am so very nervous, he is my rock and I need his support.

"What am I meant to do? Keep him on a video call just so he is with me? Any appointment or anytime I have had to attend so far my husband has been sat out in the car park for hours waiting for updates because they would not allow him in, including a trip because I actually had a fall straight onto my stomach."

At present, fathers or other support partners can visit between 6pm and 8pm. They can also be with the mother through labour and birth, whether it is a vaginal delivery or by caesarean section. While acknowledging that the hospital has to implement some restrictions due to the pandemic, Mary says that the current rules relating to the maternity unit need to be reviewed with the well-being of mothers and their support partners in mind.

"Everytime I attend an appointment I am left sitting there for hours. I recently went in to antenatal appointment at 12.50pm and didn't leave until 5pm and they want to talk about protecting people against the virus. It's mad at this stage. No one wants to face anything like this on their own," she said.

Mary* is not her real name.