We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Shutterstock/Inked Pixels

HSE guidelines allow for huge easing of restrictions on partners accessing maternity wards

The guidelines can be implemented from 1 November.

THE HSE HAS today released new guidance which would allow partners of pregnant women to be present for longer periods during pregnancy. 

Previously, certain hospitals had implemented rules whereby partners had to return to their vehicle once the woman was checked into the hospital. They were only readmitted when the woman went into labour. 

The restrictions differ by hospital. Some only allow the partner to be present when the woman is in active labour, when the baby is about to arrive. They are not allowed in in the time leading up to this moment. 

Some other hospitals have also placed time limits on how long a partner can be present after the birth of a child. Time limits regarding visits the day after the birth were also put in place by some hospitals.

However, new guidance issued by the HSE has significantly eased restrictions on partners. 

The HSE has updated guidance on access for partners to hospitals, including maternity units which come into effect on 1 November.

In a statement, the HSE said maternity hospitals remain committed to facilitating the support partner of a woman attending for antenatal care or childbirth, to be present to the greatest extent possible.

Here’s what’s changing

From 1 November, all maternity services can provide access for nominated support partners to access inpatient areas during normal visiting hours of 8am and 9pm.


  • Scans/ Ante-Natal Care: Partners should be welcome to attend at the 12-week and 20-week scans, early pregnancy assessment unit attendances, unscheduled attendance including attendance at emergency services and other antenatal appointments that are likely to involve communication that would be very upsetting or emotionally distressing.
  • Labour Ward: A nominated support partner should have access to the labour ward and throughout delivery.
  • NICU (Neonatal Care Unit): Parents with babies in the NICU should be allowed regular access, but it is important to schedule visits to protect the babies who would be in quite a small, open space.

While these are guidelines for all hospitals, HSE boss Paul Reid said hospitals can still implement their own exceptions. However, their reasoning behind implementing the exception will now be published online. 

Reid said: “It’s been very frustrating for everybody, especially for young mums and their partners, but we’ve got to a stage of where there are exceptions, or a hospital has an exception, why they can’t implement the directive for the policy that they would publish that, and we will publish it online, so everybody is very clear what the issue is they are trying to manage.

“We also implemented site visits, and we’re seeing a reasonably good level of compliance. It has been frustrating. I think we’re in a much better place now in terms of the engagement with the hospitals on that process with us. We’re expecting them to comply with the process we circulated.”

The guidelines in full can be found here

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel