MAYOR of Clare Mary Howard has said there is an “appalling situation” in the country’s maternity hospitals, with women being left without support due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The Ennis woman said that 150 are born each day, and with the mothers not allowed have fathers present except for the latter stages and for a short time after the birth, she said it is often “a really, really lonesome experience”, which can be especially difficult if the birth has been difficult.
She said that the staff in the hospitals are “up to their tonsils” and can’t pick up the slack left by the absence of fathers.
Councillor Howard said that she had spoken to a number of new mothers, and was told that glasses of water are filled for them at 7.30am and only refilled at 7.30m even though the woman may be unable to get anything for herself in between. Another woman had been in soiled clothes for two days, while there is no one to mind the baby if a mother wants to do something like wash or brush her teeth.
She observed that this is all happening while GAA games continue, while she also said it is not solely a women’s issue, as fathers miss the chance to bond with their new son or daughter.
Green party councillor Susan Crawford said that she had worked in the area and that there are far better outcomes when delivery takes place in the presence of the father. She also said that the Maternity Hospital in Limerick is an old building, and social distancing is difficult within it.
Sinn Féin’s Donna McGettigan said that it is important for fathers to be there, and that visitations are important. She stressed that fathers can be especially required in the hospital if there is bad news.
Councillor Ann Norton also stressed that the matter is not just one affecting women, and that it is “hugely important” that fathers can be there.
She said that she had lost a baby while 18 weeks pregnant and said that if she “didn’t have someone with me, I couldn’t imagine how it would feel.”
“Covid is just an excuse and the Minister for Health has to look at it,” she added.
Councillor Norton said that when news is bad, the difficulties for mothers will be exacerbated. “When something goes wrong, that’s when you feel it.”
Councillor Paul Murphy said that attending the birth of his two sons was very joyous, but tens of thousands of families are going to be hit hard by the current restrictions.
Summing up, Councillor Howard reiterated that the restrictions at maternity hospitals continue despite GAA matches going ahead, while she said that women are being treated as second class citizens.