In yesterday's government announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the rules and restrictions surrounding coronavirus had gotten "complicated and confusing" (you don't say?). So, the guidelines have once again changed – from Monday there'll be a ban on meeting with more than six people at any time, both indoors and out – but bars, pubs, shops and beauty salons will remain open.
Yet when it comes to maternity care, no announcements have been made – and thousands of expectant mothers and healthcare workers are calling for change through a campaign called #ButNotMaternity. Currently, in some hospitals, birth partners still aren't allowed into screening room for scans, such as ultrasounds. "Whilst valid at the start of the pandemic, they are now unnecessary and adversely affecting the health and well-being of parents and their babies," say The Doula Directory.
They're also not allowed to enter the labour ward until their partner is a certain number of centimetres dilated, meaning while it's still totally cool for you and five others to go to Nando's, some pregnant women are going into labour without important in-person support. Shocking, right?
A first-time expectant mother, Aimee*, 30, told Cosmopolitan UK how the rules have impacted on her first pregnancy, "I was told by my hospital that my partner wasn't allowed to come to my first trimester scan. Not only did this make the whole surreal experience much scarier for me, but it also meant he wasn't able to share in the joy of seeing his first child move on the sonographer's screen, or hear its heartbeat at the same time as me."
She added that had there been a problem with her baby, her husband wouldn't have been on hand to offer comfort or ask the doctor questions about their child. "And had we been told something was wrong, I would have been left to deal with the news alone. What seems completely non-sensical is that he could have gone to the pub to booze with 100 others while I was in the hospital for my scan."
The rules vary from hospital to hospital too, something Aimee says adds further frustration, "Plus, the rules seem to be a postcode lottery: a pregnant friend who is having her baby at a hospital five miles from mine was allowed to bring her partner to her first trimester scan. The inconsistency and lack of logic to the rules is incredibly frustrating and inhumane."
My husband's not a visitor, he's a parent who's been shunned from his child.— Hannah O'Sullivan (Pender) (@hannahpensully) September 2, 2020
He can go to the pub, gym, a holiday & cinema #ButNotMaternity
Birthing partners are still not allowed at inductions, antenatal appts and scans. @MattHancock Stop denying parents their rights.
Other maternity care advocates, including Pregnant Then Screwed and Birth Rights, midwives, doctors and an array of other medical staff and doulas, are also lending their support to the campaign, urging for clearer, across the board guidelines. A petition calling for partners to be allowed in the birthing room for the entire duration has already amassed 347,000 signatures (and counting). They're also encouraging members of the public to write to their local MP and to make noise about the crusade on social media.
Let's hope the government take note soon.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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