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26th Mar 2021

Why Ireland should follow New Zealand’s lead when it comes to pregnancy loss leave

Losing a child, no matter at what stage, is a terrible loss.

New Zealand has just approved automatic paid leave for parents after miscarriages and still births, but it has me wondering why this wasn’t always the case?

It also has me wondering why still in 2021 so few countries have this type of paid leave and when will Ireland follow suit?

This week New Zealand’s parliament passed the Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill, which will enable mothers and their partners to take three days leave in such circumstances.

There is talk in Ireland of bringing in similar leave as Senator Ivana Bacik earlier this month introduced a new Bill to the Seanad to provide employees in Ireland with up to 20 days leave for early miscarriage or other reproductive health reasons.

As it stands though the Bill has not progressed much further and while it is being discussed, many women and their partners are left grieving with no time off or support.

Back in 2016 I found myself in this very position.

I was in work one day, almost three months pregnant, and suddenly I started having stomach pains like cramps.

I ran to a relative’s home nearby and told them I needed to use the bathroom (no one in my family knew I was pregnant) and it was there that I discovered I was bleeding.

After waiting hours in A&E at the nearest maternity hospital I had the worst confirmed, I was in fact miscarrying.

I can still remember it all like it was yesterday.

It happened on a Tuesday. I was back in work the following day.

Not only do women and their partners in Ireland not have the ability of taking paid leave should the worse occur during their pregnancies, with Covid restrictions at most hospitals it also means many women face this pain alone and with no support.

Unfortunately, women in Ireland have been let down too many times before between being infested with hepatitis C as a result of being administered with contaminated Anti-D human immunoglobin manufactured by the Blood Transfusion Service Board (BTSB) between 1970 and 1994 and the recent CervicalCheck scandals.

Can we as a country stand by and watch them being let down once more?

I truly hope that the Bill proposed is followed through on and that parents suffering the loss of miscarriage and still birth and their rightful time to grieve.