Call for review of maternity restrictions

Upper Bann DUP MP Carla Lockhart has asked the Southern Trust and Health Minister Robin Swann to reconsider restrictions imposed on visitation at pre and post birth maternity appointments. In recent days the Southern Trust have announced the following restrictions:

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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  • 12-week booking scan – one birth partner can attend,
  • 20-week anomaly scan or other high-risk scans – one birth partner can attend,
  • In the Delivery room – one birth partner can attend when you are transferred to Delivery Suite or Midwifery Led Unit; they can stay for the birth and until you and your baby are ready for transfer to the maternity ward.
  • A further announcement was made two days ago which permits a 1x 1 hour post-natal visit for named birth partner per stay.

Carla Lockhart MP said, “I have been inundated with expectant mums and dads contacting me totally distraught about the sudden change in visiting pre and post birth within the Southern Trust area. It has caused immense distress at a time when anxiety should be kept to a minimum and the whole experience of becoming parents ought to be enjoyed. It is particularly distressing for those who are first-time parents and those who have experienced complications in the past.

There is a real sense of anguish amongst women who have been in contact with me. Naturally they want their birthing partner to be present to assist and support each other, and to bond with their newborn, and provide that much needed support to allow the exhausted mother time to rest post-delivery.

For those who experience difficulties it is vital that the support of a birth partner an option for the duration. It is wrong that couples will be watching the clock awaiting the dreaded departure on a momentous and happy occasion.

As someone who availed of the amazing services of the maternity unit just over 2 years ago, I cannot praise highly enough the nursing staff or the consultants. They do an amazing job and in all correspondence on this I have made clear that this is no reflection on the service provided but rather a decision by management to reduce visiting for birthing partners.

I am therefore calling on the Trust and Health Minister to make changes to these restrictions and allow for partners to be present for the duration. There does not seem to be any reason why testing cannot be used to provide evidence that the birthing partner is not COVID positive, to allow attendance. Maternal and paternal mental health and welling being is being affected and this will undoubtedly cause difficulties long term.”

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