An expectant mother in Kesh has hit out at the government over pubs and restaurants reopening while her partner will not be able to support her throughout birth in just a few weeks’ time.

Laurel Cahoon is due to have her first child in just a few weeks. She is worried that regulations will not lift affecting birthing partners in hospital due to Covid-19. Currently the Western Trust regulations are that the father of the child or the birthing partner cannot enter the labour ward until the expectant mother is in ‘active labour’.

Laurel is angry about the regulations. She said: “I think the whole thing is really backwards. You can‘t be in a room with a person you live with the entire time you’re having a baby and then they have to leave you again as soon as the babies born and then they can come back for an hour. it’s not fair to be left in a room by yourself.”

“We’ve come so far in 2020 and father’s rights have been dismissed in this. They have been forgotten. They’re talking about reopening pubs but not this.”

Regulations were updated at the end of July to allow expectant fathers to enter scans. The Western Trust confirmed that “Partners can accompany women to their first scan (only) with the Consultant and everyone must wear a mask, whilst in the hospital building”.

Laurel’s scans fell on the week before the regulations changed so her partner could not enter the scan with her. Laurel said: “The one that confused me most was the regulations around the pubs and restaurants. My partner wasn’t allowed to go into my scan but afterwards we could go to a restaurant and have a meal. He was allowed the whole way through the hospital, but he wasn’t allowed into the room with the scan.”

Laurel and her partner later opted to pay for a private scan so that they could have the experience of seeing their baby together. She said: We just wanted to be a chance to be together in a room so he could experience it. You can’t make the memories again. You can’t do this pregnancy and this baby again”

Laurel praised the midwives in the hospital. She said: “The midwives obviously don’t want to do it. They are doing their job after all and doing what they are told. I would never complain to them about the situation or blame them, it’s not their fault.” She added: “They have been reassuring me and doing their best to comfort mums in the situation. They’ve given us YouTube videos to watch and leaflets as none of the classes are running.”

Visiting the maternity ward in the hospital has also been impacted as a result of Covid-19. One nominated visitor may stay for one hour on admission to the hospital, including women being admitted for induction of labour. Until birth, one nominated partner can visit for 1 hour between 7.30pm and 8.30pm

After birth, one nominated person can visit the new mother and baby for one hour between 2.00pm and 3.00pm or 7.30pm to 8.30pm. They cannot visit both times.

While visiting the maternity ward, all visitors must remain by the bedside throughout the visit and maintain two metre distancing between other visitors. There will be no visitors under the age of 16 years.