Maternity Ward Rule Changes For Partners and Visitorsby Laura Driver
Hospitals have been ordered to allow partners and visitors onto maternity wards so pregnant women are not forced to give birth on their own.
NHS England and NHS Improvement have written to all of the directors of nursing and heads of midwifery to ask them to urgently change the rules around visiting.
The letter, which is dated 19 September says NHS guidance was released on 8 September so partners and visitors can attend maternity units now “the peak of the first wave has passed. We thank you and are grateful the majority of services have quickly implemented this guidance and relaxed visiting restrictions,” it reads. “To those that are still working through the guidance, this must happen now so that partners are able to attend maternity units for appointments and births.”
The letter adds: “Pregnancy can be a stressful time for women and their families, and all the more so during a pandemic, so it is vital that everything possible is done to support them through this time.”
Make Birth Better, a campaign group which polled 458 pregnant women for a new study they shared exclusively, said mothers-to-be have been forced to give birth without partners and have had less access to pain relief in the wake of the public health crisis. Half of those polled were forced to alter their own childbirth plans as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak – while almost half of those who were dependant on support from a specialist mental health midwife said help had stopped.
Birthrights, which campaigns for respectful pregnancy care for women, recently warned mothers-to-be were being forced to potentially spend days alone in hospital ahead of giving birth as they grapple with a postcode lottery due to strict visiting restrictions.
Expectant mothers are routinely being blocked from having their birthing partner present until they are in proper labour which can be “worrying” for women who wait for their labour to start in hospital, the organisation previously said.