Irish women unite in protest against stringent maternity restrictions 5 months ago

Irish women unite in protest against stringent maternity restrictions

"As you reopen society you have prioritised nights out, sports, shopping, even getting a haircut, but you have failed to outline a roadmap for the lifting of restrictions in our maternity services."

In the last 14 months, hundreds of women have had to go through the first stages of labour, and in some cases the entirety of childbirth, without a birth partner present. Most attended antenatal appointments alone and some had no visitors in hospitals after giving birth.

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Whilst certain restrictions were necessary and understandable during the Covid-19 pandemic, frustration is growing in Ireland as reopening talk focuses on areas like hospitality, GAA and hairdressers, when there is still no clear roadmap in place for the removal of restrictions in maternity care.

Clinical director of the HSE Women and Infant’s Health Programme, Dr Peter McKenna advised maternity hospitals to begin easing restrictions two weeks ago — and some have since made announcements around specific changes, but not enough has changed since this time.

Angered by the lack of clarity and urgency, Irish women are uniting their voices to put pressure on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the government to lift maternity restrictions in Ireland without further delay.

 

More than 600 people have donated to a campaign which saw an open letter appear as a full page advert in the Irish Examiner over the weekend.

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The letter, addressed to Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar, Eamon Ryan, Stephen Donnelly, Dr Tony Holohan, Dr Ronan Glynn, Dr Paul Reid and Dr. Colm Henry reads: "You asked us to stay safe — we stayed at home. You asked us to hold firm — we kept our distance from loved ones. Through all this, we have been forced to hear bad news alone; attend scans and appointments alone; faced into labour alone; our partners kept from bonding with the newborn babies.

"We have done all this without a nominated partner, who bizarrely are classed as visitors. Birth partners are NOT visitors.

"As you reopen society you have prioritised nights out, sports, shopping, even getting a haircut, but you have failed to outline a roadmap for the lifting of restrictions in our maternity services."

The letter goes on to ask for a number of specific restriction to be amended by the end of May and June 2021, respectively.

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In another powerful show of unity, a digital protest took place this weekend, organised by voluntary maternity organisation, AIMS Ireland. The social campaign saw a wave of Irish women taking to social media to share their stories, using the hashtag #whoseneedsarebeingmet.

The brave women shared photos of themselves at their most vulnerable, explaining the difficulties and in some cases, heartbreak they went through alone in hospital as a result of Ireland's strict maternity restrictions.

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Irish women have shown time and time again, that when they join forces they can move mountains.

The hope now is that the government will respond to the pressure and prioritise women's health, as we navigate the return to normality.

It's time our government paid attention.