AT SIX months pregnant, a North-East woman is calling on hospitals to ease rules restricting partners from being present at scans and on labour wards.

Jessica Brady, 31, who is expecting her first child with partner Adam Mouland, 29, in February, is backing a campaign by maternity pressure group Pregnant then Screwed, which is fighting to allow women to have their partners at their side throughout the process.

Ms Brady, from Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, who plans to give birth at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, said: “Since we came out of the first lockdown people have been out shopping, they’ve been actively encouraged to go to the pub and to boost the economy but things that are really important in terms of mental wellbeing are being left to rot.

"How long is it going to take before it changes?

"I’m terrified. I feel desperately sad for my partner and some of the women who have been through horrendous experiences without their partners there."

Hospitals around the country have different rules in place around which appointments pregnant women can have a partner to support them at, and when they can enter the labour ward.

Despite Government guidance permitting partners to attend both scans and the entirety of labour, many trusts around the country are asking expectant mothers to attend  some appointments alone.

The Northern Echo:

At South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, which runs James Cook, partners can attend the 12 week scan and are allowed to be birthing partners once the mother is in active labour.

It says the measures are in place because of community infection rates and added that senior clinicians regularly reviewed the restrictions in place. 

Ms Brady, who recently moved back to her home town from London, where she was trying to make it in musical theatre, added: "From what I understand at James Cook I will have to be alone until I'm in active labour, which might be hours and hours of being alone.

"He can be there at the birth but I don't know how long he will be able to stay with the baby after the birth."

She added: "They are making something that’s scary at the best of times even more terrifying. They are putting pregnant women in a vulnerable position because they won’t have someone fighting in their corner. They are just left to get on with it.

"On top of a pandemic and everything else that’s going in, I feel like they are playing with fire with women’s emotional health."

The Northern Echo:

Jessica and Adam are expecting their first child in February


A South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “Community prevalence rates for Covid-19 remain high and we have sadly seen an increase in patients requiring Covid-care.

“National guidance requires local maternity services to take account of local Covid-19 community infection rates and the need for social distancing.

“The experienced clinicians who are guiding our response to the pandemic are doing so with the singular goal of helping to keep patients and colleagues safe.

“To reduce the risk of transmission, visiting on all our sites is currently suspended with exceptions in a small number of areas including birthing partners and at 12-week dating scans.

“Our maternity unit understands that this is a naturally anxious time for expectant mothers but can provide reassurance that women who have felt vulnerable under the current infection prevention control precautions have reported a good experience.

“The current precautions are also reviewed regularly by our senior clinicians.”

Pregnant then Screwed campaigns around a range of issues affecting women who are pregnant or with children, including maternity and childcare rights.

The campaign is being backed by MP Alicia Kearns, who has written to trusts across the country to urged them to allow women to have a supportive person present for all scans and during every stage of labour.

She said: “Being pregnant is wonderful, but difficult at the best of times and it is truly heart-breaking that women across the country are not being treated equally at this huge milestone in their lives.

“Expectant mothers and their partners or loved ones deserve better, and my colleagues and I will continue to campaign on this most important of issues until it is resolved”.