AN ENNISKILLEN mother, who is expecting her second child, has expressed her dismay and confusion after her husband was not allowed to attend an antenatal appointment with her, despite guidance stating the contrary.

Lisa Hetherington, who runs Nor Lisa Fashion and Alterations in the town, was at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) on Tuesday with her husband Stuart for a diabetic and antenatal clinic appointments.

They expected that with the issuance of guidance around maternity appointments and the easing of restrictions, that both would be allowed into the appointment.

Department of Health guidance states: “A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to a pregnancy-related appointments and ultrasound scans where the environment is Covid-19-secure.”

However, it seems the Western Trust are unable to facilitate this, and Stuart was told he could not attend the appointment.

There was no guidance from the Western Trust that they would not be able to accommodate birthing partners at appointments, and it was only after Lisa had raised the issue that they issued guidance.

Looking back at the experience, Lisa stressed that she was not angry at the staff, who “couldn’t have been nicer”, but with the people higher up making these decisions.

“My husband had been really looking forward to the appointment as he hadn’t seen the baby since the 20-week scan. When the announcement was made the previous week, I cried with happiness that he could finally come to an appointment and not miss out on the experience. He had made sure to get off work.

“At first I was completely devastated and anxious that yet again I would have to go alone and convey details back to him.”

The only reason given to Lisa and Stuart, who have a 19-month old son, Camden, was that he was not allowed in due to Covid guidelines.

It has been a difficult pregnancy for Lisa who has been admitted to hospital twice, and she says not having her partner there has been stressful and upsetting.

Lisa feels that with society opening up, and more and more people coming into close contact with each other, as she sees in her business every day, it is hard to accept that her husband cannot attend an appointment with her in a clean and controlled hospital environment.

They received no answers from the Western Trust behind the reasoning, with Lisa adding: “We feel confused as to why we are being put through this.

“We are saddened that we will never get this time back – a time where we should be bonding and excited for our new arrival is overshadowed by dread and confusion.

“I am angry at the lack of consideration and empathy that is being shown to people at an already difficult time.”

When contacted about the issue over maternity appointments, the Western Trust released a statement with a specific update on visiting arrangements for Maternity Services.

It stated: “In maternity wards, one daily visit from one of two nominated individuals from up to two households can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within Covid-secure environments.

“For maternity outpatients, a woman’s partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to dating scan, less than 12 weeks; anomaly scan, at 19 weeks; and foetal medicine clinics.

“At all other appointments, the woman and partner should be advised that the partner will remain outside the building and will be contacted if and when required.

“For labour and birth, a chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman for induction of labour, duration of labour and birth, and, for up to three hours after the birth.”