Pregnant women should be able to be supported by their partner during maternity appointments as well as labour and after birth with calls for hospitals to review their current rules.
The new guidelines have been drawn up with health chiefs making it possible for new mums to have someone with them as long as their birthing partner isn’t showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
This means that mums-to-be will be supported during baby scans and midwife appointments – which they previously had to go to alone.
The new document was published on Monday (14 December) in a publication titled: ‘Supporting pregnant women using maternity services during the coronavirus pandemic: Actions for NHS providers’.
It states: “Pregnant women value the support from a partner, relative, friend or other person through pregnancy and childbirth as it facilitates emotional wellbeing and is a key component of safe and personalised maternity care.
“It is therefore our aim, further to a risk assessment, that a woman should have access to support from a person of her choosing at all stages of her maternity journey and that all trusts should facilitate this as quickly as possible.
“At the same time it is our priority to prevent and control COVID-19 infection and keep women and staff safe. Many trusts have already found creative solutions to overcome remaining challenges and they have maximised the support that pregnant women can receive throughout their pregnancy. It is important now that all trusts do this.”
The document outlines that women should be welcomed alongside their support person – ‘regarding them as an integral part of both the woman and baby’s care throughout and not as a visitor.’
It includes making sure that woman can take their support person to: the early pregnancy unit, all antenatal scans, other antenatal appointments where the woman considers it important to have support, labour and birth from the point of attendance at the hospital or midwifery unit.
Trusts will now be asked to undertake risk assessments and pregnant woman as well as their birth partner should be tested for the virus before they attend 12 and 20 week scans – and any other maternity-related appointments.
Birthrights tweeted their welcoming of the proposed changes. In a further statement, they wrote: “We applaud the dedication of maternity professionals across the UK who are working tirelessly to deliver the best possible care in a fast-moving situation.
“Despite the challenges the NHS now faces we all remain united in the belief that every woman needs safe, respectful and compassionate care during pregnancy and birth.”
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