Charity calls for partners to be included at maternity appointments during pandemic

on 30 June 2020

A charity in Northern Ireland has called for partners to be allowed to attend maternity care appointments during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As part of lockdown restrictions, the UK Government announced that pregnant women should attend their maternity care appointments alone.

BirthWise is now calling for guidance to be updated after a survey, conducted by the charity, found that 86% of pregnant women attended their appointments alone and women who were without their partner in early labour described their experience as “lonely”.

The survey was carried out between 22-25 June 2020, asking women about their experiences of maternity care during lockdown.

52% of women who had an in-patient stay on a ward since March 2020 commenting saying they felt alone, unsupported or anxious.

72% of respondents said visiting hours between 5-8pm would be the best time for their partner to visit the postnatal ward.

Despite feeling unhappy about not having their partner at appointments, most women said they were satisfied with the level of maternity care they have received from their care provider during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alongside the survey, Deputy First Minster Michelle O’Neill said she have written to the Health Minister for an update on restrictions to maternity services.

“Last week I wrote to the Minister for Health to request an update on the Department’s plans to ease restrictions on hospital visitations and appointments,” she said speaking to BelfastLive.

“In particular, I raised the issue of partners not being allowed to accompany expectant mothers to maternity appointments, during labour and in the maternity wards following the birth of the new baby.

“The Department has assured me that these restrictions are under review and are hoping to relax them in the near future.

“As a mother, I understand just how precious this moment is for parents. It is important that we all explore a way to allow our families across the north to return to some sort of normality as soon and as safely as we possibly can.”

The BirthWise survey received 167 responses.