Baby Lifeline welcomes the NHS guidance around support for women throughout pregnancy and childbirth – which urges NHS hospitals to allow women to have a supporting person with them throughout their care, as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
The pandemic has been stressful for expectant and new parents, not least due to the uncertainty of the virus but also the ever-changing guidance around birth partners and appointments. We know the value of having someone there throughout pregnancy, birth, and afterwards.
The new guidance will ask maternity units to complete more risk assessments to enable pregnant women to have access to support from a person of her choosing whilst also preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting pregnant women and NHS professionals.
The guidance asks NHS hospitals to “welcome the woman and her 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 women can safely take a 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.
What this might mean for you?
- You and your support person may be asked to complete a COVID-19 test on arrival.
- You and your support person will need to wear face coverings to appointments.
- You and your support person must keep to the 2m social distancing rule.
- Your support person may be asked to wear further protective clothing (PPE), as instructed by your maternity team.
- Your maternity team will let you know where to wait – this may mean waiting in your car until called to reduce the numbers in the waiting areas.
- If you or your support person tests positive for COVID-19, you will be able to speak to your maternity team about the next steps – you will be able to select an alternative support person who has not tested positive.
- If your baby needs extra support after birth and is admitted to a neonatal unit, you will be offered a test at regular intervals. If these tests are positive, you will be offered video access to your baby if required to self-isolate.