Protecting human rights in childbirth

Registered Charity Number 1151152

Coronavirus – how will it affect my rights to maternity care?

(updated 17th March 2022)

If you are pregnant, you may be concerned about how coronavirus or COVID-19 (the illness resulting from coronavirus) will affect your rights to maternity care. The NHS has general information on its website about coronavirus (separate guidance applies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). In addition NHS England & Improvement has specific guidance for providers about facilitating visiting in maternity services. The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) has information for pregnant women and their families on its website, which will continue to be updated. The relevant Royal Colleges (the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) have also published this information for maternity healthcare professionals.

You can read our March 2020 position statement here.

Click below to view our template letters to Trusts/ local MPs re visiting restrictions:

Template letter to local Trust about visiting restrictions due to COVID
Template letter to your local MP about visiting restrictions due to COVID

Frequently Asked Questions

What rights do I have as a pregnant woman in the pandemic?

You still have the right to a safe and positive birth experience. This includes being treated with dignity and respect, having a companion of choice, having access to pain relief, being able to be mobile in labour and give birth in the position of your choice, and being communicated to clearly by staff. On the postnatal ward, your essential needs for food, drink and physical support must be met.

Will I still receive maternity care as normal?

You will still receive maternity care. However in some cases your care might be slightly different to what you expected. The latest guidance from the Royal Colleges recommends that the normal schedule of antenatal appointments should be provided if at all possible. However, depending on local circumstances some appointments may be conducted over the phone or by video link.  If you have, or may have, COVID-19, then routine appointments, including scans, should be delayed until after your isolation period.

Will I have to accept changes I am not happy with?

Maternity services should still treat you with dignity, and you can always decline any intervention/treatment you are not happy with. However in some cases Trusts/Boards may have to make changes to the services they offer. The law allows them to do this, even if it means restricting choices, if they can show that it is a proportionate response to the challenge of coronavirus.

I have been planning a home birth, will I still be able to have one?

Yes, if the Trust/Board has enough staff to run this service and women are able to be transferred to hospital if necessary.

Official guidance recommends that women who have (or may have) COVID-19 give birth on an obstetric unit. If the Trust/Board is not able to offer a home birth to well women, they should be able to give a good, evidence-based reason for this, and to offer alternatives such as birth in a midwifery-led birth centre, where possible. They should also review this decision regularly as the situation changes, for example, if the home service has been partially withdrawn because of staff shortages of over 20%, the expectation is that the service should be reinstated once staff shortages return below 20%. RCM/RCOG have also published guidance on the provision of midwifery settings and home birth during the current pandemic.

If there is no home birth service what happens if I stay at home and give birth without assistance?

The legal position is that you cannot be compelled to go to hospital and giving birth without assistance is not illegal, but should be thought about carefully.
Some women have reported being threatened with social services when mentioning this option. This is completely inappropriate. A referral to social services should only be made on the basis of a risk of “significant harm” to the baby after the baby is born, and should never be made on the basis of birth choices alone.

I am due to have an elective caesarean, will this still go ahead?

Yes. If you have , or may have COVID-19, your care team will discuss with you the option of delaying the caesarean. However, if the caesarean cannot be safely delayed it will go ahead. If you have, or may have COVID 19, special precautions, e.g. protecting staff with special masks, will be in place.

If you do not have COVID-19, there may occasionally be a need for some re-scheduling of elective caesareans, as services prioritise.

I am due to have a maternal request caesarean, will this still go ahead?

Yes, unless the Trust can give a good reason why the Trust cannot honour that commitment due to the changed circumstances. Caesareans will be prioritised according to clinical need but Trusts should be doing their best to follow NICE guidance, and to undertake all caesareans on their lists, even if some re-scheduling is required.

Will I still have continuity of care?

National guidance from the Royal Colleges says that continuity of care should continue to be offered where possible. Each Trust continue to monitor if it has sufficient staff to offer its usual service, and to make short-term alternative arrangements to see a midwife or doctor even if not your usual one.

Will I have one to one care in labour?

Yes – all units aim to provide you with one to one care from a midwife during active labour.

Will my partner be able to be with me at all times?

You should always have a chosen partner with you during active labour and birth (ie from when you are admitted to the labour ward or birth centre and are therefore in your own room, or during a caesarean unless you are having a general anaesthetic).

Some Trusts continue to have restrictions on visiting in place particularly on postnatal wards (for example visiting limited to two hours). These can only be justified if there are issues with maintaining 1m social distancing if all partners were present. A Trust must be able to show that ongoing restrictions are necessary and proportionate, taking into account the need to control the spread of the virus as well as the harm caused by the restrictions themselves. Trusts are required to be innovative in overcoming any obstacles in the way of including partners within maternity services.

Visiting should only be restricted on the postnatal ward if the staff are able to meet all your basic needs for food, drink and physical support. If you need additional support, for example if you have had a caesarean, or you have had twins, or you have a mental health condition, exceptions should be considered on a case by case basis.

If visiting restrictions are still in place and you feel that there are reasons to make an exception for you, do raise this with your care team.

Please note the situation regarding visiting in maternity services differs across the UK. You can find further information here on current visiting guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Will my partner still be able to be with me during my labour/birth if I have COVID?

You should still be permitted to have a birth partner with you even if you have COVID. If your birth partner has COVID you can have an alternative birth partner with you instead.

Giving birth without the support of someone you know is a significant interference with your rights and Trusts must do everything they can to avoid this happening.

Can my partner join appointments by phone or video call if they are not able to be present in person?

Partners are now able to attend most antenatal and scan appointments. Where this is not possible, many Trusts are facilitating partners dialing into appointments with midwives and doctors. If you are prevented from doing this, you should be given a good, evidence-based reason. Healthcare professionals should bear in mind that the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association have said that patients should be able to record consultations.

We have received legal advice saying that Trusts/Boards should allow partners to be involved in scan appointments remotely unless the Trust/Board can show they have looked at all the evidence and have a good reason to say no. Updated national guidance on remote attendance was published by the Society of Radiographers on 12th August 2021 and provides some ideas about how discretion can be applied when partners are not able to attend in person.

Do I have the right to decide who is present at my home birth?

A Trust/Board cannot compel people to leave your house. However Trusts/Boards have a duty to keep their staff safe so they can restrict their service and say they won’t attend in certain circumstances, say if someone with a positive COVID test or symptoms is present. By declining to provide the service, the Trust/Board is potentially putting the woman and baby at risk and may be legally liable in the event of an adverse outcome. Therefore Trusts/Boards will need to assure themselves that the restriction is proportionate. For example, requiring other members of the household including other children, to leave the house during the birth, is unlikely to be proportionate.

Do I have to have a vaginal examination to assess whether I am in established labour?

No. You always have the right to decline any intervention, including vaginal examinations (VEs). If you have given your consent to a vaginal examination under pressure, for example, because you have been told your partner cannot join you until you are in established labour, your consent may not be valid and the healthcare professional could be legally liable if they proceed with the VE.

There are other ways for an experienced midwife to tell if you are in established labour (around 3-4cm dilated) and therefore ready to be admitted to the unit if that is your plan. If you are still in early labour, you should have the option of returning home with your partner. If there is any doubt about whether you are in established labour or not, you should be admitted to the birth centre or labour ward if there is room.

Will I have access to pain relief during my labour?

Yes. Trusts should not withhold pain relief including access to water to relief pain in labour, as well as access to an epidural or other drugs without having a rational and evidence based reason to do so.

Will I need to wear a mask during labour?

You should not be required to wear a mask in labour although who are showing symptoms of COVID are asked to cover their faces until they are in a private room. Partners may be asked to wear a mask and healthcare professionals are expected to wear a mask.

In addition, RCOG/RCM advise that babies should not wear face masks due to the risk of suffocation.

Will I need to wear a face mask during a caesarean?

There is no official guidance on this but RCOG have told us the following:

“The NHS guidance on wearing face coverings in hospital settings applies to staff, visitors and those attending out-patient appointments, not people admitted to hospital. We do not believe it is appropriate for pregnant women in labour or those having a planned or emergency caesarean birth to be asked to wear a facemask while in labour or when giving birth.
“Pregnant women admitted to hospital who tested positive for or who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, would usually be asked to wear a face covering until they are moved into a private room, or while moving from their room to the operating theatre if they are having a caesarean birth.”

Do I have the right to decline testing for COVID?

Yes you can decline the test and care must not be withdrawn. RCOG’s guidance on testing says that if you decline a test you should be treated as if your test result is pending (ie you should be treated as positive if you have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms or a positive result). RCOG’s guidance can be found here.

Should I be prioritised for vaccination?

As of 16th December 2021 pregnant women and birthing people have been prioritised for vaccination (alongside anyone under 65 who has a long term health condition). This follows evidence that clinical outcomes for pregnant women with COVID have worsened over the pandemic (see here for further information).

Vaccination sites have been given operational guidance telling them that they need to make reasonable adjustments for people who might struggle to stand in a queue including those who are pregnant.

What if I am under 18?

Anyone who is pregnant should be prioritised for the vaccine. If you are over the age of 12 you can have the Pfizer vaccine.

Do I have the right to decline vaccination?

Everyone has the right to make an informed choice over whether to be vaccinated or not. However the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation is calling on all pregnant women to get vaccinated as soon as possible. There is now good available data which shows no safety concerns with vaccinating pregnant women. If you have any concerns we would recommend looking at the latest information and data from reputable sources such as the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (see here).

Does all of this apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

The Human Rights Act applies to the whole of the UK and therefore the underlying principles of: individuals having rights which can’t be restricted without good reason, the need to explore all alternative options to ensure restrictions are the minimum necessary to achieve the legitimate aim of protecting the health of others, and the need to review these decisions as the situation changes, apply equally to the devolved nations.

RCOG/RCM guidance also applies UK wide.

The situation regarding visiting in maternity services differs across the UK. You can find further information here on current visiting guidance in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What about the rights of staff?

We understand that maternity staff are currently working in very challenging circumstances and are understandably worried about the risk of catching COVID and of passing it on to family members.

Midwives, doctors and other NHS staff have rights as employees, including the right to a safe workplace, and to protective equipment. However NHS Trusts as public bodies also have a duty to protect the human rights of the patients they look after. Trusts must balance the need to protect their staff against the need to protect the rights of their patients. Whilst banning all birth partners, for example, could reduce the risk of infection to staff, it would be a profound restriction on the rights of a woman and her partner. Such a ban would only be proportionate in the most extreme circumstances. 

We recognise the dedication and sacrifice of maternity healthcare professionals who are facing increased risks on a daily basis to ensure that women have a safe and positive birth experience.

If you feel your rights during birth are at risk, please do email us on advice@birthrights.org.uk

77 thoughts on “Coronavirus – how will it affect my rights to maternity care?”

  1. How can a blanket policy of only one birth partner be challenged? Do you mean challenged in the moment when arriving at the hospital/ birth centre?

    • Hi Katie – the post meant that a policy may be open to legal challenge. There are 3 tests which must be met when a rights is restricted – it must be lawful, have a legitimate aim and be necessary (ie proportionate). But best to raise any concerns informally with the Trust first and before labour – if you are aware of Trusts who are implementing this policy without due consideration, and who are not willing to consider exceptions please do email us at advice@birthrights.org.uk

      • Hello, I have heard from Northwick Park Hospital that they are not currently allowing any birth partners – do you think this can be changed? It is very worrying.

        • We have been in contact with Northwick Park this week and understand they have now reverted to a policy of one birth partner, which we were very pleased to hear.

          • My wife has today been admitted to the obstetric ward at Northwick Park for an early induction due to the crisis. She has been told that they will not now allow her to have a birth partner, so they seem to have gone back on their decision to follow the RCM/RCOG guidance. We are both very upset that they appear to be the only hospital in the UK that are making their own rules.

          • Sorry to hear that Andy – is that for the early part of labour or the whole labour and birth?

          • We’ve just been told that I will be allowed in when my wife is in established labour. It may be that this revised policy hasn’t been effectively communicated to all staff.

  2. My daughter & I have been doing a hypnobirthing course during her pregnancy & she is distraught at the thought I won’t be present as our hospital is saying only one birthing partner is allowed, can they implement this?

    • Hi Diane As the post explains the Trust will need to show that it has looked at the risks of having an extra birth partner and has considered carefully whether only allowing one birth partners is a proportionate response, weighed against the benefits to the woman giving birth. Please do email us at advice@birthrights.org.uk if your daughter finds the Trust are saying that you can’t attend…

      • Thank you Maria,

        How would we go about getting in contact with the trust, we are at the hospital today seeing the anaesthetist. Should we explain this to a midwife & request to challenge the one birthing partner.

        • Hi Diane We would encourage your daughter to explain to her midwife how important it is to her to have both her partner and yourself present, and ask them if they have done any modelling of the impact of the policy to restrict birth partners in general (looking at the additional risk of infection vs impact on women), and/or if they could look at making an exception in your daughter’s circumstances. You could take a copy of our factsheet on birth partners https://www.birthrights.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Birth-partners-2019.pdf – the same principles apply even though the circumstances of coronavirus are different. If you need any further advice please do contact advice@birthrights.org.uk

          • Thank you Maria,
            We have spoken to the head of midwifery at our hospital here on the
            Isle of Wight & explained the effect this is having on my daughter so close to her due date next week, all our plans for a hypno birth, her worry about her low platelets & how having me as her support through the entire pregnancy would have on her mental state & only a definite “No” one rule for all!
            We are devastated.

          • So sorry to hear that Diane. We continue to urge all Trusts to think carefully about the balance between infection control and women having the support they would like to have. We know that other Trusts are still managing to allow more than one birth partner even in the current circumstances, and we are sorry that the Isle of Wight NHS Trust does not feel able to accommodate your daughter’s request to have you there, in addition to her partner.

  3. Thanks so much for this. As a solo mum-to-be who really feels anxious to ensure my two closest people are there to support me, I’m particularly worried about the birth partners restrictions and reassured that I might challenge them on proportionality.

    Just to note the information for maternity healthcare professionals is currently not working.

    • Hi there We are urging Trusts to think about their policy on additional partners carefully and to allow some discretion where birth partners are being restricted. On the other hand, we are conscious that Trusts have very good reasons for keeping physical contacts to an absolute minimum at the current time which is very hard for people due to give birth in the next few months. Have you considered a home birth? Or if you think there are good reasons why an exception should be made in your case if you are giving birth in a hospital or birth centre, do raise this with your care team…

  4. Hi.

    My friend has been told she is no longer allowed a homebirth a she is out of area, yet the homebirth service is still running. Is this allowed? She is almost 37 weeks and struggling to cope with the alternative of having to go to hospital with just one birth partner.

      • Hi,
        I have spoken to 2 hospitals in my area today regarding birth partners and they have both said that in 2-3 weeks time when I am due the situation will likely be worse and birth partners may not be allowed at all. Not the reassurance I was looking for!
        Can they really make you give birth without one? Surely the consequences of having no support and being stressed and anxious during delivery will be disastrous for a lot of women?

        • Hi Lois, we would agree that banning birth partners altogether is a very significant restriction on women’s rights and possibly a counter-intuitive one at a time when resources are stretched. As the blog states, the legal position is that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act still applies ie women still have the right to choose the circumstances of their birth, including who should be present at the birth, but as always this is a qualified right, and Trusts are able to restrict this right if is lawful to do so, if there is a legitimate aim (protection of health of others in this case) and the action is necessary (ie proportionate). We think it is arguably proportionate in the current circumstances, to limit birth partners to one, if exceptions are considered on a case by case basis. However the evidence of significant risk to the health of others would have to be very significant to justify banning birth partners entirely as a proportionate response.

  5. Hi,

    I have no issues with the limit of only my husband. That was always our plan.
    We are due for induction and he isn’t allowed in until I’m in active labour. As loss parents we are obviously incredibly anxious anyway, with COVID on top it is making our anxiety even higher.
    I don’t want to argue with the staff, as I believe they are trying to keep everyone safe, we need them to be safe to help us when we need it.
    I do though feel particularly vulnerable. Is there anyone I should talk to

  6. Hi, regarding pregnancy appointments, should hospitals make exceptions to women having to attend these alone based on vulnerabilities ie mental health concerns/history of childhood sexual abuse? Our hospital is not allowing anyone to accompany women to appointments which will mean that some just opt to not access these.

  7. Most trusts are now saying that partners can only be present for “active labour” not before or after or allowed on the postnatal ward, can I do anything about this ?

    • Hi Emma, this is far from ideal but RCM/RCOG have said that it is for Trusts to take the decision locally about whether these restrictions (antenatal/postnatal) are necessary to restrict the spread of the virus, but they have said all Trusts should be allowing birth partners to attend throughout labour. If you think there are good reasons for an exception to be made in your case- Trusts should look at these on an individual basis.

  8. This is so useful. Is there any reason I might not be able to have a water birth during this time? My 2 boys were both very big, although very straightforward and both born very happily in water. I’m 36 weeks and the thought of not having water to ease the pressure is quite concerning… any info gratefully received.

    • Hi Vanessa

      Do see the RCOG/RCM guidance – in short no, unless you are infected or may be infected – but situation varies from Trust to Trust – do discuss with your care team.

  9. My Trust has now said that my birth partner can not be in theatre during the birth (c section) but will have some time in recovery with me (not clear on timescale) before having to leave. Surely this isn’t a birth partner since I will be alone at the point of birth? Any advice?

  10. I have sent an email but might be helpful for others.
    My trust has suspended the homebirth service. However I do not feel safe giving birth in a hospital setting for many reasons not excluding the current situation but risk of intervention, no birth partner etc, Could the trust deny me care or pain relief at home
    if I was to go ahead regardless?

    • Hi Rebecca, In normal circumstances, we would advise that if you have a home birth planned and the Trust are aware of this, then they should honour this commitment unless there were some unusual, unforseen circumstances they couldn’t have planned for. However these are not normal times. If the Trust has considered all alternative options properly, and decided that it is unable to provide a home birth service, they may be able to justify not providing you with care. They should still try, but we would advise you to think very carefully about freebirthing in the current climate. As per other replies above, Trusts absolutely should be allowing birth partners.

  11. The thought of giving birth without my partner is unbearable. We have been self isolating for weeks to ensure we do not get infected, no contact at all. Their is a well know and important issue with womens mental health before, during and after childbirth, and to say that a woman must go through this traumatic situation alone due to the possibility of infecting self or others when people such as builders are still working is disgusting. I was in labour for 3 days with my first child, I could not go through that alone. What is being forced upon vulnerable women is unacceptable and needs to be wavered as funerals are.

    • Just to reassure you Laura that the RCM/RCOG have made clear that birth partners should be allowed including in theatre unless a general anaesthetic is needed. This is set out in the latest guidance from RCOG/RCM (link in blog above).

  12. Hello, I am from the Czech Republic. I am not pregnant, although I am very concerned about the fact that none of the hospitals in our country are currently allowing any birth partners. Even more alarming is the official statement of our new Public Defender of Rights Stanislav Křeček who said (in an official statement) that “The presence of a father at childbirth is a possibility, not a human right” and that “The presence of the father at the childbirth has been without a doubt a bit of a fashion trend lately and is definitely not necessary for keeping healthy family relationships nor for the healthy development of a child. […]” The above-stated translation is mine, translated as accurately as possible according to my best conscience; the official press release is somehow not available in English at the Defender of Rights’ website (unlike other press releases) so here’s a link to the Czech one https://www.ochrance.cz/aktualne/tiskove-zpravy-2020/pritomnost-otcu-u-porodu-je-moznost-ale-nikoliv-lidske-pravo/ Some non-profits are already trying to deal with this issue, however, I would be really grateful for your opinion and for any advice on how Czech women can protect their birthrights.

    • Hi Denisa Our remit is for the UK only. However the European Convention of Human Rights applies to the Czech Republic so Article 8 which encompasses the right to private and family life (and the right to choose the circumstances of your birth) equally applies but it is a qualified right. Hospitals can restrict the right if it lawful, for a legitimate aim and if the restriction is proportionate. In the UK national bodies have given guidance that not allowing birth partners at all is not a proportionate action.

  13. Hi I am due soon I’ve had very little contact or responce from my midwife due to staff storages. I’ve been told I am unable to have a home birth due to this… I suffer a severe anxiety disorder called DPD, this is heightened by new faces, new environments, and a lack of support from my fiance in particular. I can cope somewhat with a change of environment knowing he’s there but I’ve been told he’s not allowed there until established labour 4cm dilated. This would lead me to be inconsolable and need sedation prior. Would this be something we can have altered so he’s there for the whole thing we are meant to be hypnobirthing which also would massively effect my anxiety levels without or with someone I don’t know.

  14. Hi my hospital have informed me today that no birth partners are allowed at c sections. I am due to have mine on Wednesday. I would like to know where I stand legally on this matter as it is causing me undue stress. Regards Theresa

  15. How am I supposed to have a “back up” birth partner in place when I’m not allowed to be near anyone who’s not part of my household?

  16. I’m not currently pregnant but have two children, both born by maternal request ELCS due to extreme tokophobia. I saw in a BBC article today that some pregnant women who have opted for ELCS for the same reason are being told that because of coronavirus they will no longer be able to have an ELCS. Is this really the case?

    I’m very concerned about these women- if this had happened to me I don’t know what I would have done. I’m really worried about the hidden victims of coronavirus in general but in particular mental health and I know how horrendous tokophobia is.

    • Hi Charlotte, we absolutely recognise the importance of access to maternal request Caesarean for many women. We would expect that Trusts to be doing their best to follow NICE guidance, and to undertake all Caesareans on their lists, even if some re-scheduling is required. Trusts may restrict the services they offer if they can show that it is a proportionate response to the challenge of coronavirus, however they should still be considering exceptions on a case by case basis.

      • Hi,
        Just to follow on from Charlotte’s comment on 1 April 2020. I had a c section with my 1st child due to various health issues which meant my baby had to be born by 38 weeks. I opted for a c section instead of induction. I am expecting my 2nd child and was told by the consultant that normally I would be giving the choice of a repeat section or Vbac, however because of Covid – 19 I will not be given a choice, it will only be Vbac. Also if I need to be induced then they will only do it via the instrumental induction due to Covid 19. I tried to find Nice or RCOG guidance on the matter but I cannot find anything. I understand this is a difficult time for everyone but I am panicking because I can’t research it myself. Also, if I have issues again and need induced then I am concerned about the associated risks and concerned that I have no choice to do what is best for me and my baby.

        • Hi Michelle We understand that both RCOG and NHSE’s position is that everything possible should be done to avoid rationing caesareans and that this should only be done if shortages of staff or other resources require it (bearing in mind that the COVID situation in many areas is improving rather than getting worse). You don’t say how many weeks pregnant you are but it is hard to see how a Trust could be making a proportionate decision about what the situation would be in a number of weeks time. We would be very interested to hear which Trust this is and would be happy to write to them if necessary. Please do contact us on advice@birthrights.org.uk

  17. I had severe PTSD after my last birth – forceps – many years ago, and am due in a few weeks time. After seven years of counselling and antidepressants I managed to recover. I am due to have an elective section which I requested but am petrified that my section will be “de-prioritised” as mental health will not be seen as medical need. Have you heard of any c-sections being refused? Can I refuse any treatment other than a section? This is causing me a massive amount of worry.

  18. my hospital is allowing one healthy birth partner during active labour, however they then state the partner has to be from your same household, which really means “if your husband shows any symptoms you are alone”. Can I challenge this? If I had a healthy friend what would be the rationale of not allowing them?

    • If the healthy friend had been self-isolating can think of no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to accompany you. Do ask the Trust to give you a good explanation- if they can’t justify it as a proportionate response, they should re-think it.

  19. Hi,
    Just to follow on from Charlotte’s comment on 1 April 2020. I had a c section with my 1st child due to various health issues which meant my baby had to be born by 38 weeks. I opted for a c section instead of induction. I am expecting my 2nd child and was told by the consultant that normally I would be giving the choice of a repeat section or Vbac, however because of Covid – 19 I will not be given a choice, it will only be Vbac. Also if I need to be induced then they will only do it via the instrumental induction due to Covid 19. I tried to find Nice or RCOG guidance on the matter but I cannot find anything. I understand this is a difficult time for everyone but I am panicking because I can’t research it myself. Also, if I have issues again and need induced then I am concerned about the associated risks and concerned that I have no choice to do what is best for me and my baby.

  20. Hi,
    I’m 5 weeks pregnant and UCL hospital have just sent me a letter to say my first appointment will be at 13 weeks. I know that hospitals are trying to limit contact but I’m surprised not to even be offered a call. This is my first pregnancy and I would have liked to have a health check and also be given some advice. Given that the risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester I think it’s negligent not to offer any support, information or advice during this time.

  21. I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and my gp said all my care would be under a consultant. I found out I was pregnant shortly after. All of my appointments have been cancelled and I have been told I wont see a midwife until I am 28 weeks pregnant. She said we can discuss a referal to a consultant then. My understanding of hypothyroidism is that it is a concern during the 1st and 2and trimester as that is when the baby is relying on my thyroid. By the 3rd trimester it has its own. I find that completely unacceptable and insufficient care.

  22. Are expectant dads allowed in 20wk scans in Lincolnshire yet? My daughter in law has got hers tomorrow and they dont know if my son can go in with her this time.

    • Hi Denise I’m afraid your daughter in law and son will need to contact their Trust directly about this. All best wishes

  23. UCLH is not allowing partners in until a vaginal exam is carried out. I will not be giving consent for the vaginal exam; they keep saying they then can’t let my husband in. This is blackmail/coercion. I am now 40 weeks; I am not sure how to handle this. It appears to violate the EC on Human Rights and UK Law, esp given my specific extenuating circumstance. Please can you look into their “policy.”

    • Hi Jessica There are other ways of assessing whether you are in established labour. You have every right to decline to have a VE and should not feel coerced into having one on the basis that they won’t let your husband in without one. If you have been told this please contact us on advice@birthrights.org.uk and we will happily write to UCLH on your behalf.

  24. Hi,

    My wife and I are expecting our second child and are currently at 11 weeks. We previously experienced a miscarriage and have been left anxious coming in to this pregnancy. Understandably my Wife is frightened and nervous as we approach the first scan, scheduled for 17th July at East Surrey Hospital, especially given the fact that I cannot accompany her. How can the NHS continue to leave women isolated and lacking support for all antenatal appointments when the streets of Soho are packed with people at the weekend? I have started and signed a number of petitions to get this heavy-handed and unnecessary ban overturned. Is there anything else that I can do on this. Thank you, in advance.

    • Hi Jack Congratulations on expecting your second child. It has been left to Trusts to decide their own visiting policies – however we are aware of a number of Trusts who are allowing partners at scan appointments. Even if East Surrey is not permitting this yet they should consider making an exception for you and your wife given your previous experience of a miscarriage. We would recommend raising this with the Head of Midwifery and/or the sonography team. If you would like any further advice or assistance please email us at advice@birthrights.org.uk

      • Hi,
        I’m disabled (autistic) and suffer with horrendous anxiety. I have a doula who is supporting me but have been told she may not be able to attend with me as I’ll have my partner too.
        Should they be making reasonable adjustments to support my disability and facilitate a less stressful birth experience?

  25. Hello,
    I am due to give birth at Queens Hospital in Romford in around 3 weeks.
    Have they lifted restrictions yet in terms of 2 birthing partners? Or will they be?
    I need so much for my mum & partner to both be with me!

    • Hi Ellis. We are seeing some variation with some Trusts beginning to make incremental changes to their birth partner and visiting policies and we are sharing examples of where Trusts are doing this on our social media. However it looks from their website that your Trust hasn’t lifted restrictions yet and that their policy is still for one birth partner only. If you’d like to contact us at advice@birthrights.org.uk we’d be happy to offer you some support.

  26. I’ve been made aware today I have to be Covid tested. Am I able to refuse a test still ? I live alone have no symptoms and worrying about false positive results and not being able to see my baby I’m booked for induction Monday. I’m 41+9 days I live in uk. Even if I go into natural labour they are still going to test?

  27. Hi Maria,
    Is there any mention of the restrictions of 1 birth partner being lifted with all the vaccinations happening.
    I’m due in may and really want my partner and mum with me

    • Hi Claire

      The NHS England guidance states that Trusts should be moving towards pre pandemic visiting as soon as they can but it is down to individual Trusts to make these decisions. Hopefully the vaccination roll out will help – fingers crossed for this changing for you before May. All best wishes

  28. Please can you advise what the rules are with regards to birth partners for a home delivery. My Son and partner live with us and have opted for a home birth, which we are happy with. The issue is that she would like her mother to drive up from London (200 miles) to attend the birth and stay over. We can’t find any rules other than for Hospital births which are quite clear for just 1 partner?

    • Hi there – current Government guidelines do not permit a member of another household mixing inside/staying over so in the first instance this is a decision for you. In terms of whether your local maternity service would be happy with this arrangement -up until now many maternity services have said that there members of another household should not attend a home birth unless there is a good reason (for example if a single pregnant woman would otherwise be left without support) in order to reduce the risk to their midwives. This may change with the vaccination roll out. If you would like any further advice please contact us on advice@birthrights.org.uk


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