While the rules and restrictions surrounding coronavirus show no signs of getting any less confusing (even the PM himself admitted it), it seems one important subject has been completely disregarded by MPs – maternity care.
That’s right, despite easing the rules on beauty salons, pubs, schools and urging us all to get back on packed public transport again and into the office, the government has made ZERO announcements on whether anything is going to change in regards to how maternity care is currently being administered. The lack of change or news has led to thousands of expectant mothers and healthcare providers calling for a change and a campaign, #ButNotMaternity has been launched.
Back in May, Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife, and co-founder of My Expert Midwife told GLAMOUR, “Some of the biggest changes that women faced during this time include being unable to take partners or family members to their ultra sound scans and not being able to have their chosen birth partner with them until they are in the active phase of labour.”
Gilchrist added that expectant mothers, “would need to reach the criteria of having regular strong contractions and their cervix dilating to 4cms or more. This means that the latent phase of labour or the first part of induction of labour needs to be done alone and this can take a while.”
Now, four months later, in some hospitals partners are still unable to join for scans and the same rules are still preventing women from having a birthing partner in the room until the very late stages of their labour. This means women are continuing to go through one of the most painful and traumatic experiences of their lives alone, despite most rules easing for everyone else outside the hospital walls.
One mother who recently experienced this wrote on Twitter, “This needs to be addressed immediately by the government. I gave birth by myself & my husband didn’t see our baby until she was 3 days old. Giving birth alone was the most traumatic experience of my life. We must do better by those giving birth during this time #ButNotMaternity.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “I’m giving birth next week & can confirm that everything about being pregnant in a pandemic is grim. Perhaps we should all give birth in pubs in order to get a better deal? #butnotmaternity”
One doula wrote, “Enough is enough. Human rights are being forgotten about and birth trauma and PTSD are on the rise. Pubs, gyms and schools are now open but a person giving birth cannot have their chosen partner with them during an induction or some antenatal services. #butnotmaternity
According to reports, there seems to be no consistency in the way hospitals are dealing with the changes. While some are now allowing partners to be present from the beginning of labour, for others they’re still following the strict guidelines that were introduced in March.
So far, the petition on change.org has over 350,000 signatures (and rising) with many maternity care advocates, including Pregnant Then Screwed and Birth Rights, midwives, doctors, nurses and doulas supporting the campaign for change.
Sign the petition here: change.org/partners-allowed-for-entirety-of-labour-birth-in-all-hospitals