Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise has said birthing partners should be able to attend births in hospitals with family members, something which has been banned under the emergency situation rules to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Due to the emergency situation, the Society of Gynecologists, the Association of Midwives, the Society of Pediatricians and the Society of Perinatology have drawn-up guidelines for hospitals to monitor childbirth, pregnancy and newborns during the epidemic. According to these rules, a woman who is giving birth may not be accompanied by a partner.
Madise said banning birthing partners contradicts the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
She said the presence of a birthing partner during the epidemic is allowed in hospitals in several other European countries, but additional safety measures have been introduced. Such countries include Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, France and Ireland.
"In emergency situations, visits to hospitals are limited, but the birth partner has a different role from a visitor," Madise said.
She points out several studies both in Estonia and in other countries have shown the birthing partner plays an important role in childbirth. For example, they can help overcome communication problems between a healthcare professional and a mother, support the mother both physically and emotionally, and help convey the mother's wishes.
In addition, Madis said, the WHO has emphasized that even during an epidemic, the mother should be provided with a safe and positive childbirth experience, which includes the presence of a birthing partner. The birthing partner could be, for example, a family member of the mother or the father of the child.
Editor: Helen Wright