Expand maternity care during lockdown for mothers and partners, whilst lockdown eases.

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Last week, I personally paid £150 for a scan so my partner could could have the ‘privilege’ of actually seeing his first ever child. I’m 29 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I’m feeling left out of what should be a very supported time in my life.

I’ve just seen that discussions have begun about pubs to be opening in TWO WEEKS. Many other retail shops are opening in about a week as well. Gardening centres and takeaways have been open for weeks, including mass chains with big kitchens and staffing from separate households. Most shops allowing more than one person from a household in at a time, and barely anyone adheres to social distancing in these settings...I have personally been coughed on in a Tesco’s...this wouldn’t happen in a socially distanced setting such as a midwifery appointment. Please read below for treatment of pregnant people which has come up in topical discussion:

-partners aren’t allowed at scans with one sonographer, but can walk around Tesco’s with you. Fathers/significant others/families/siblings are missing out on important bonding which is very special and essential....but they’re allowed to go to the shop to buy a new teeshirt or some face wipes.

-masks are compulsory in hospitals from next week, for everyone, but not in shops.

-some women will have to give birth in masks, but again, you don’t have to wear one is a shop full of people you don’t know. How does this new action affect the use of gas and air?

-midwife appointments are being cut down to the minimum, and midwives are really struggling with providing care for women because they’re so overstretched. You’re given ONE plastic pot to reuse for itinerary through your ENTIRE pregnancy. Most appointments are over the phone and this doesn’t encourage an engagement of trust between yourself and your midwife who you need to know and trust...yet you can go to the shop, unlimited walks around people you don’t know, etc.

-all antenatal classes closed, even if it’s a very small group of women who can easily socially distance in a setting. But again, non essential retail is opening to more than one person in different households in one space. This is non essential, learning to cope with birth and beyond is very essential. Online classes are not available to everyone and practical advice is not viewable in person.

-partners aren’t allowed to be with their newborns for open hours, or until active labour, but can go to the pub full of people they don’t know and then come straight back to the hospital within 24hours to visit. Partners from the same households should be allowed to stay for the entirety. 

-Restrictions on numbers of birth partners, even if they are from the same household with no symptoms. This is taking away vital support networks needed by labouring women.

-families aren’t allowed to hug one another, but Cheltenham racing was enjoyed by mass crowds. Beaches and parks have been packed. Some festivals have not announced closure.

Personally, I have had enough. Many men and women voice the same opinions. I am totally within the understanding that we should protect our workers at the NHS, but they are being subjected to far worse than two people from the same household sitting and socially distancing from them whilst talking about their unborn child. Possibly high risk. Possibly their first child. Possibly a rainbow baby. Possibly a long awaited hard to conceive baby. Possibly scared and suffering.

I will not be putting myself and my unborn child at risk by visiting the nearest pub or clothes shop when it opens, yet I’m still not within my rights to a person with me for support when I need it, not having regular maternity care. I have been shielding since the end of March, closed my business, not had ANY of my family touch my bump, not having a baby shower. My pregnancy is being torn away from me, my mental health is suffering, along with nearly 100% of mothers I have had support from online in regards to this petition.

As the lockdown eases in the UK - mothers, fathers, families, siblings, partners and expecting parents should be entitled to more extensive care. Should be allowed to include their support person from the same household in the pregnancy. And should be regularly updated with positive movements towards the normality of maternity care during UK Lockdown 2020.