A petition to allow fathers and partners to be with their newborn child at hospital after birth has reached close to 4,000 signatures.
Under new COVID-19 regulations, expectant fathers are allowed to be with the mother during childbirth but must leave the hospital straight after, when the mother is transferred to another ward for postnatal treatment.
The new regulation has sparked outrage amongst a community of expectant parents who feel that having both parents throughout the childbirth process is essential to a healthy experience for all involved.
“I fail to understand how prohibiting a father from being with his newborn child and from being of support to his wife or partner can be perceived as anything but draconian,” said Edwina Farrugia Bajada, a mother-to-be.
“Even more so when one considers that both parents hail from the same household, are both subject to a swab test on being admitted to hospital, and that it is more than likely that hospital staff (who are not swabbed on a 72-hour basis) will change shift at least once during the entire duration of childbirth,” she pointed out.
The petition also said that the new regulations will only put “more pressure” on midwives and nurses who it claims “already stretched thin as it is.”
Arguments have also been made by parents saying that labour with a father present is much more difficult and that it is their right for them to be there.
“I experienced labour, and labour without a father is much more difficult. Dads are not visitors. They are the strength of a woman while in labour,” one parent said.
The new regulations prove to be even more infuriating given that private gatherings are still allowed between no more than four households.
“The directives preventing the mother from having the support of her partner is not only cruel for both parties but void and ridiculous,” said Nathaniel Farrugia, a healthcare worker and father-to-be.
Moreover, the World Health Organisation has strongly supported women having a companion during labour and childbirth, noting that the emotional, psychological and practical support it provides improves the mother’s health outcomes.
Almost one year ago, similar restrictions were imposed forbidding partners from being in the labour room whilst their significant others’ gave birth.
These measures were lifted in summer, once COVID-19 numbers started to decline. Today, Malta has a record number of active COVID-19 cases with 3,252.
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