Senator Eileen Flynn has announced that she is pregnant and due her second baby in September.
The Donegal-based Senator made the announcement in the Seanad on Friday during a speech on maternity services.
Senator Flynn lives in Ardara with her husband Liam Whyte and their daughter Billie, who is almost two years old.
Senator Flynn told the Seanad that her pregnancy has left her worried about maternity supports, like many other women in the country. She made the call for restrictions to be lifted on partners accompanying mothers during maternity unit visits and labour.
“Some maternity hospitals are still excluding partners from pregnancy appointments, during induction, labour and afterwards when the baby is born. There shouldn’t be one set of rules for one hospital and a different set of rules for another,” the Independent Senator told the Seanad.
“Every woman should be able to have her partner with her,” she said.
Dr Peter McKenna, the clinical director of the HSE Women and Infant’s Health Programme, said earlier this week that restrictions can be eased, and asked hospitals to be ‘more liberal’.
Senator Flynn said: “From being told bad news alone, to going through labour without support, to cancelled antenatal classes – there have been so many ways that women and pregnant people have been let down during this pandemic.
“Having a baby is a journey filled with joy and worries. Without the people who love us the most to hold our hand, facing it can seem like a terrifying, traumatising ordeal.
“It’s a roller-coaster of a journey. And it is important for your partner to be with you.”
The Senator said that now that staff are vaccinated and risks in maternity hospitals are low, there is ‘no excuse’ to keep the restrictions in maternity hospitals and wards.
Senator Flynn said: “In fact, this shows just how much disregard our health system has for women and pregnant people.”
Senator Flynn also addressed the issue of medical costs associated with being pregnant.
She said: “There is an illusion that maternity care is covered under public health.
“But if you suffer from common illnesses associated with being pregnant – such as extreme morning sickness or gestational diabetes – you may have to pay thousands of euros.
“I am calling for treatment for all pregnancy related illnesses to be made available for free.
“The Department of Health really needs to value and listen to people going through maternity services,” she said.