After a tireless campaign over months, pregnant people in England will now be allowed their birthing partner of choice with them for the entirety of their maternal care.
This will include scans, appointments, the whole of labour and the postnatal window, provided that the partner in question is not showing any signs of Covid-19. If you're pregnant, you and your partner will need to take a test for the virus before your 12 and 20-week scans.
Delighted to see the revised guidance for visiting in maternity services, recognising that #partnersarenotvisitors, that they are a "key component of safe and personalised maternity care" who should be included throughout https://t.co/wDgLNTAsnJ #butnotmaternity @NHSEngland
— Birthrights (@birthrightsorg) December 15, 2020
Until now, depending on which NHS trust a person was with, some were having to attend appointments – in some cases, hearing news of miscarriage or foetal abnormality, or going through labour – alone. This was partly because hospitals could draw up their own rules on maternal care during the pandemic. Now, standard guidance has been released.
While the previous rules said that partners could be in attendance for 'active labour' (when the cervix is 4-5cm dilated), in practice, this meant some partners missing the birth entirely, as well as being asked to leave as soon as the baby had been delivered. Naturally, this has proven incredibly traumatic for a lot of women.
Echoing the thoughts of many today... Delighted to see the new @NHSEngland maternity guidelines today. Thank you and well done to everyone who has campaigned thus far. #butnotmaternity https://t.co/JvpNPGmkgN
— But Not Maternity (@Butnotmaternity) December 15, 2020
The new guidance was published on Monday this week, as part of the "Supporting pregnant women using maternity services during the coronavirus pandemic: Actions for NHS providers" document.
As part of the ask to "urgently complete any further action needed so that partners can accompany women to all appointments and throughout birth", trust heads will be asked to conduct risk assessments in every part of their maternity service to check where there might be an increased risk of transmission due to partners being present, to reconfigure space to ensure that it is as Covid secure as possible and to use testing.
The guidance states: "Pregnant women value the support from a partner, relative, friend or another 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."
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