Protecting human rights in childbirth

Birthrights calls for easing of visiting restrictions in maternity services

Birthrights has today written to NHS England and NHS Improvement calling for national guidance on easing visiting restrictions in maternity services in England, to recognise the unique needs of pregnant women/birthing people and their partners. Some Trusts still have the same visiting restrictions that were put in place at the height of the pandemic. Birthrights wants Trusts to return to accommodating a woman’s partner or supporter of choice, and a second partner/visitor if possible, unless a Trust can show that local circumstances require additional restrictions.

Maria Booker, Programmes Director, Birthrights said:

“Ongoing visiting restrictions are a significant interference with the rights of both pregnant women and their partners at a huge moment in their lives. We want to see national guidance that makes clear that the “norm” is for an individual to be supported by their chosen partner/s throughout their maternity care, and that Trusts need to have a compelling reason for deviating from that.”

10 thoughts on “Birthrights calls for easing of visiting restrictions in maternity services”

  1. Basingstoke no partner at scan or appointments not even allied to FaceTime scan. My daughter lost baby dec is now 22weeks and hubby not allowed. If to del in hospital then only allowed at the end. I am a retired midwife and I see this as a form of abuse and total disregard for both their mental health only way round is she is adamant she will deliver at home. Opposition but she will not accept their practise and has contacted her no. She is a clinical mental health practitioner. Lots of comments on Facebook but those who are supposed to lead are not listening ok to go to pub and eat out but no support for women. Disgraceful

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  2. I absolutely agree that this is so important. Dads/partners are not visitors, they are a hugely important part of the family unit that is going through this momentous process. And having a partner present during active labour is not enough – when they are banned from antenatal wards, mums get stressed which is not good for oxytocin and leads to poor birth outcomes, and when they are banned from postnatal wards mums are coping alone which leads to poor mental health, not getting breastfeeding off to a good start, etc.

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  3. Totally agree with Lesley and Gabrielle and the statement of the letter. Thank you for taking action. Risks v benefits should always be weighed up in decision making. The risk to birth outcomes, familial bonding, mental health and emotional wellbeing AND longterm health outcomes of the baby HAVE to be part of the risk assessment. Ref: ACEs. I’ve heard tragic stories of separation around birth as a result of COVID protocols during this pandemic. Anyone affected can contact me or fellow Matrix Birth Reimprinting practitioners for support and to heal birth trauma gently. @SyntonicBirth / 01825 841045

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  4. Thank you for doing this. We’ve been shocked at the postcode lottery for birth partners being present on postnatal wards – every thing from 1 hour a day, 2 hours a day, 7 hours a day to 24 hours a day. Surely this isn’t based on risk yet despite meeting with managers we’ve about our previous trauma and the importance of my husband being present we’ve not had any success. I look forward to reading the response you get.

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  5. Absolutely ridiculous. Shopping centers are left open for an all out frenzy, but a birthing partner is not allowed in even once the mother is in labour. They are only allow led after 4cm dialated even my wife had to wait an extra 2 hours after she was 4 cm in order for me to be let in. Incredible stress on the mothers head and anxiety. It’s an absolute disgrace makes no sense.

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  6. Has there been any acknowledgement from NHS England on this yet?
    The variation in what trusts are allowing is so huge, it doesn’t seem fair.

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  7. Absolutely shell shocked to find out that my partner is
    Only allowed to attend the surgical part of our twins planned CS and no visiting in the days after. Worried for both mine and his mental wellbeing at such a momentous event. Anxious that BF will be impacted and no one will be their to advocate on my behalf if needed. Thank you for writing the letter. I hope that some sort of guidance is issued in a national level soon. Disgusted that people can crowd into pubs, airports, shops, restaurants with no social distancing, and yet the person I live with, who has shielded and been careful for his family, can only attend a tiny part of his children’s birth.

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  8. Hi, do we have any idea yet about the number or % of trusts up and down the country who are still implementing this awful policy? Would be interested to see this. Disgraceful either way but women in my area are being utterly gaslit by trusts who maintain that EVERYONE is doing it when we all know they’re not.

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    • Hi Emma We don’t have a comprehensive record of Trust’s visiting policies across England (the rules are slightly different in the devolved nations) although we try to highlight good examples as much as possible and we are aware of bad examples. There is a lot of variation at present ranging from a birth partner only being allowed during labour still, to 12 hours a day visiting or even partners allowed overnight, and second birth partners allowed during labour in some Trusts. The fact that other places have restrictions is a very poor excuse – if there are no good ground locally for restrictions they shouldn’t be there as they are harming families.

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