On Tuesday, the government decided to ensure predictability for mothers by facilitating that pregnant women can be accompanied by a partner during the birth and maternity leave, provided that infection control considerations can be taken care of in a responsible manner.
The Storting has also asked the government to ensure that rapid tests are used in the hospitals to make it easier for partners to participate.
The decisions come in the wake of the fact that more and more people have signed up for the food uprising under the hashtag # jegføderikkealene.
In September, pediatrician Carina Saunders gave birth to a baby boy.
As a consequence of being pregnant during the coronary pandemic, her husband was not allowed to attend ultrasounds and hospital visits before the birth, nor maternity leave afterwards.
Saunders is very pleased that the government has finally made decisions that improve the situation for pregnant women and women giving birth, and their partners.
However, she adds that it should have happened much sooner, and thinks it is sad that mothers have had to fight with appeals and campaigns.
– It is sad that partners have been excluded, and especially in cases where they find discrepancies, Saunders says.
After going two weeks over the due date, she had to go to the hospital herself for stripping and to have a balloon inserted, both without a partner.
Coincidentally, the man was allowed to join
Coincidences meant that she still had to carry her husband with her for most of the birth. Because she knew he would not be allowed to attend until she was in active labor, which is defined by 5-6 cm opening, she postponed going to the hospital.
When they arrived, it turned out that she already had a large enough opening, and he was allowed to join her. There, however, the progression stopped, and after two days of contractions, little Adam was delivered by caesarean section.
– Had the progression stopped at, for example, 3 cm, I would have had to spend time in the hospital alone, she says.
After the caesarean section, Carina’s husband was allowed to be with the baby for two hours before she was sent on maternity leave, and the man was sent home.
There she lay in a shared room with a thin curtain between her and her new mother next door. She was in great pain and could barely sit upright. Suddenly, she also had a baby to take care of, and the time in an understaffed maternity ward without the support of her husband became demanding.
After almost four sleepless days, she was exhausted and had an argument about moving to the maternity hotel. There the man could finally be with and relieve her.
– If I had not been moved then I would have written myself out of the hospital, says Saunders.
– Can affect the child throughout life
She thinks it is a general problem that the maternity ward is understaffed and is poorly arranged for visits from a partner, but thinks it has become extra bad after the corona pandemic.
– For me, it seems illogical that the partner is allowed to come at a certain time in active birth. If he is there from the beginning, there is little difference, I think.
She is afraid the stress the exclusion entails can also have long-term consequences for both mother, father and child.
Saunders works as a pediatrician at Ullevål Hospital in Oslo, where she is involved in research on lifestyle factors and stress during pregnancy, and whether it can affect the risk of disease in children during life.
– Chronic stress in the mother during pregnancy can change the development of the baby’s genetic material in the womb. It will thus be able to affect the child throughout life, she says.
May have serious consequences
In addition, it expresses concern about the increase in the number of postpartum depressions during the pandemic.
– There are plenty of women who have had a much worse birth experience than me, and who have struggled and had postpartum depression, she says.
According to Saunders, postpartum depression can affect both the relationship between mother and child, and between mother and partner in a critical phase of the child’s life.
– It’s completely hair-raising. Exclusion of a partner can have serious consequences.
Saunders believes this will be highlighted in future research studies on children born during the coronary pandemic and their mothers.
Section leader for the maternity ward at Ullevål, Thorbjørn Brook Steen, thinks the #Ifodderealeals campaign is misleading.
– It scares pregnant women unnecessarily. No one gives birth alone, he says.
Steen points out that all women who have a partner or supporter who is not in quarantine may have this with them during an active birth.
However, he emphasizes that women in childbirth in particular are a vulnerable group, and that he understands that the pandemic has hit them hard.
– This is part of a larger and extremely important debate about caring for women throughout pregnancy, Steen says.
Hope vaccination can improve the situation
He adds that regardless of the corona pandemic, it is very important that both mother and partner have a good experience of pregnancy and childbirth, but that the pandemic makes it demanding.
When asked why a partner cannot be present even before and after birth, Steen answers that it is mainly the increased risk of the spread of infection that is the cause.
– But what difference does it make if the mother and partner already live together, and the partner is there for hours at a time and comes and goes?
– There are several cases where only one of the parties in a couple is infected. It will increase the risk of spreading the infection, and if it only increases the risk a little, that’s enough, says Steen.
He believes that consideration of the risk of infecting an entire ward, so that it goes beyond the health care of other foods, must weigh heaviest.
Expect action from Høie
– We are now vaccinating the maternity wards on an ongoing basis, with the hope of being able to open more, he says.
Health policy spokesperson in FrP Åshild Bruun-Gundersen tells TV 2 that she thinks it is sad that the hospitals have used rigid infection control reasons, and thus deprived women of having a partner at birth.
– We all understand that we are in a pandemic, and that it must be handled with care. But there is no reason to rob the women of having their partner, says Bruun-Gundersen.
She is aware that Frp’s goal now is that all pregnant women, no matter where in the country they live, should have a partner both during birth and in childbirth.
– This just needs to get in place as soon as possible. And we expect Minister of Health Bent Høie to take action already this week.