For the last 14 months AIMS Ireland have been requesting that maternity care restrictions which separate a labouring person from their support partner cease.
There has never been any transparent publicly available risk assessment to prove that separating birthing people from their support person for early labour achieves benefits for anyone involved. In fact, the risk of fear anxiety, interventions, physical and mental trauma are increased for mother and baby. In addition, the risk to the partner experiencing a disconnect with their new baby and the process of becoming a parent is also increased.
Research shows us that when people are traumatised at their most vulnerable during the birthing process, there are huge repercussions for the health wellbeing and development of not just the birthing person in the transition to parenthood, but also for the child. These issues should form a core part of a risk assessment process. To date no such risk assessment appears to have been carried out or published.
Two weeks ago on the 19th April 2021, Dr. Peter McKenna identified that a reduction in maternity care restrictions should be rolled out. Since that time nothing has been achieved barring an additional “visiting” hour here and there.
The key issue is separation from partner support. This is at its most critical during early labour and during medical induction. Labouring people are not weak or disempowered, but they are vulnerable, and these restrictions cruelly exploit these vulnerabilities.
Partners of pregnant and labouring people never have been, and never should be regarded as “visitors”. They are an integral part of the pregnancy, of the labouring process, of the birth and the of early postnatal period. This fundamental misunderstanding by the HSE of the role of a partner has been critical in the infliction of harm on so many pregnant people and their families over the last 14 months.
We estimate that some 60,000 families have undergone pregnancy labour and birth with these restrictions in place. It has been inhumane. A partner in early labour IS the labouring person’s source of pain relief, as well as their advocate and their emotional support. To deprive someone of all these things sends maternity care back to the dark ages.
AIMSI have heard every day, for 14 months, from you, the maternity service users of Ireland. The pain, the anxiety and the sadness is tangible. We are so sorry this is your reality; we thank you all for taking the time to share your most intimate feelings with us all. We hear you, we see you. We are pushing at every level.
We have sat on committees. We have conversed with politicians. We have consulted with policy makers. We have gone to the media over and over and over again.
Still we ask Whose Needs Are Being Met?
Speaking this morning AIMS Ireland Chair Krysia Lynch said, “It has become clear to us over the last two weeks that there is no leadership and no action being taken on behalf of the birthing families of Ireland by the HSE, by NWIHP or by the Department of Health. Politicians are putting their heads in the sand and maternity care staff have their hands tied.”
“In the absence of leadership from the Minister and the HSE, the only way forward is for more people to publicly draw attention to this crisis for birthing people in Ireland. The restrictions are not enshrining safety, because the short term and long term emotional physical and mental safety of pregnant people and their families are not being factored into any transparent risk assessment.”
AIMS Ireland conducted a digital poll during the last week (30th April 2021 to 3rd May 2021) to assess public feeling on safety in maternity hospitals.
We asked “Would you be in favour of having partner support (in spite of the Covid risk), in antenatal, labour/birth and postnatal care settings following the usual protocols? (Willing to distance and wear a mas etc).” The results are as follows:
FACEBOOK POLL: 332 YES and 9 NO. (Total respondents 341)
TWITTER POLL: 93% YES and 7% NO (Total respondents 134)
People want these restrictions gone.
In response, AIMSIreland calls for a nationwide online and in-person protest to demand the removal of all maternity care restrictions in Ireland.
1. Digital online protest. From midnight tonight May 4th for 24 hours, until midnight on May 5th we ask you to share and change your profile images on social media using the attached meme. If you feel comfortable, please include any personal experiences or thoughts you might have. Please include the hashtag #WhoseNeedsAreBeingMet and tag the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and your local TDs.
2. Series of strategic nationwide in-person protests outside all maternity units and hospitals starting on May 11th. If you would like to be involved please contact email@example.com. These protests will be limited to meet all safety regulations. It is vital that you register with AIMS Ireland if you would like to be involved, so that nobody’s safety is compromised.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org