By Q Radio News
An MLA has welcomed reassurances from the Department of Health around maternity visits in hospitals amid a surge in Covid cases.
Cara Hunter says pregnant women should have a partner with them as they give birth - even if cases start to rise again.
The SDLP’s health spokesperson said she’s been inundated with calls from expectant mothers who are anxious that the rules could change.
It comes after chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young confirmed fewer people are contracting Covid in hospital - meaning there’s less of a case for reimposing restrictions.
Ms Hunter asked for guarantees that no one would be expected to give birth without their partner present.
“My office has been inundated with calls from expectant mothers concerned that visiting rules may be reintroduced that prevents their partner being with them before, during and after they give birth.
''We have seen a number of trusts decide to introduce restrictions again recently as a result in the spike in cases and hospital admissions.
“Restrictions on maternity visits earlier in the pandemic caused a huge amount of distress.
''Being pregnant and giving birth, especially for first time mums, can be a very worrying time and having your partner with you at important appointments, hospital visits and while giving birth provides a great comfort for many.
''I would call on the health trusts and Department of Health to show empathy around this and do everything within their power to avoid reintroducing these restrictions which negatively impacted on so many women.
“I welcome reassurance from Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Ian Young that much fewer people are contracting Covid while in hospitals compared with previous waves of the virus so there is less of a case for reimposing visiting restrictions. I hope this will bring comfort to worried mums to be at what should be one of the most special times in their life.”