Expectant fathers express anger at COVID-19 ban on hospital visits

“This measure is extremely hurtful against the father, showing how not important we are”

Expectant parents have expressed outrage at a decision to prohibit fathers of newborn children from spending time with their partner and baby in hospital after the birth, according to new rules introduced as part of COVID-19 restrictions.

Under the new regulations, while expectant fathers are allowed to attend their child’s birth, they must leave the hospital as soon as the mother is transferred to a ward for post-natal treatment.

“I am really angry that this measure has been reinstated as I really do not believe that any of the studies mentioned during yesterday's press conference show a high rate of Covid infections from the fathers being near their wife and newborn,” one father, whose child is due to be born next week, said.

“This measure is extremely hurtful against the father, showing how not important we are, and then we preach for equality. There is also the added mental stress and obviously the physical hardship that the mother will have to endure alone.”

An online petition has been launched, arguing that fathers should be allowed with the mother during and after labour and delivery, had gathered over 3,600 signatures within 24 hours at the time of writing.

“Fathers should be allowed to stay with the mother before and after birth. They are an essential part of the process to ensure a healthy birth experience for both parents and the newborn child,” the petition reads.

The petition also warns of the common problem of post-partum depression, a mental health condition which can afflict mothers of newborn children.

It argues that PPD was already a problem before the measures were introduced and which could only be exacerbated by their adoption. “PPD is already a problem for many and the directives preventing the mother from having the support of her partner is not only cruel, but void and ridiculous seeing that people are still being allowed to meet up and party even though these families have been isolating for weeks to prepare for the birth,” the petition statement continues.

Hospital visits by partners had already been restricted as the first wave of the pandemic struck the Maltese islands last year.

Those restrictions were lifted heading into summer, as COVID cases declined.

Other countries are also introducing similar restrictions, with the UK, Ireland and Germany all having introduced rules preventing fathers from attending maternity appointments, or labour or even childbirth over the past year.