Women say the uncertainty surrounding maternity services during the coronavirus outbreak is “making a stressful situation harder”.
Some NHS trusts are not allowing home births or partners on a ward following a birth, while others are. One trust only provides face-to-face postnatal support when it is “absolutely essential”.
The Royal College of Midwives says services must be reduced due to Covid-19. Maternity services have been restricted because of staff shortages due to sickness and workers self-isolating, the college adds.
A group of NHS trusts and boards across the UK were asked about the services they are able to provide during the coronavirus pandemic. Nine trusts in England, five boards in Scotland and one trust in both Wales and Northern Ireland responded. All 16 bodies said one birth partner could be present during labour, but just over a quarter of those asked are allowing partners on the postnatal ward following the birth.
Around a third of trusts and boards who were surveyed are now allowing home births. In the weeks after a birth, midwives and health visitors are now heavily relying on virtual communication to provide families with postnatal support. Home visits are mostly still happening, but one trust in London said it only allows face-to-face contact when it is “absolutely essential”.