The Psychological Society of Ireland has expressed concern about the implications of continued maternity restrictions on parents and infants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said that the exclusion of partners and support persons from maternity service have been highlighted as a cause of increasing distress among pregnant women, fathers, partners, and families.

The PSI said that while restrictions have been eased across some hospitals, they continue to remain across many hospitals in Ireland.

It added that women who have experienced acute trauma or perinatal loss during a previous birth are disproportionately negatively affected by these ongoing restrictions.

It pointed to research elsewhere showing that restrictions due to Covid-19, which have resulted in partners' exclusion until a woman enters the labour ward, have negatively affected maternal mental health.

They have also been associated with increased levels of anxiety and fear of childbirth.

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Earlier this month, a senior Health Service Executive official said some additional lifting of restrictions will take place at maternity hospitals in the coming weeks.

New guidance from the HSE will allow for partners to attend 12-week scans and to be present during some caesarean sections and early scans if miscarriages are suspected.

HSE Clinical Director of Women and Infants Health Dr Peter McKenna said with the move to ease restrictions further there are conflicting priorities; to keep people safe and also to keep the process of childbirth as normal as possible.

He said the conversation can mean tension between these two priorities.