Mothers Of Premature Babies

Maternity Leave Extended For Mothers Of Premature Babies

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The Cabinet will discuss plans to give extra maternity benefits to mothers of premature babies and fund IVF for the first time through the state today.

Ireland is one of only three countries in the EU that offers no support for those undergoing IVF.

4500 babies are born prematurely in Ireland each year but the maternity benefit system has remained rigid for their mothers with payments only kicking in from the original due date.

The benefit entitles all mothers to 26 weeks maternity.

Now the government has decided to accept a Green Party bill to extend maternity benefit to mothers for every week below 37 weeks gestation that a baby is born.

This means that if baby comes early at 32 weeks, the mother will receive the standard 26 weeks benefit and an additional five weeks benefit for the early arrival.

Separately, the Minister for Health will also discuss the long anticipated support for couples going through IVF.

A key question will be how many cycles the HSE will fund for those trying to conceive.

Krysia Lynch is from the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services says she welcomes the move;

“Parents of premature babies go through so much. They probably find out early on that their baby is going to be compromised or have problems, then they find they’re not able to financially sustain themselves and the extra costs their babies may require. It’s absolutely fantastic that that need is being recognised”.