Protecting human rights in childbirth

Registered Charity Number 1151152

Alliance urge Welsh Government to rethink guidance on visiting restrictions in maternity services

A coalition of organisations who have campaigned on visiting restrictions throughout the pandemic has today written to Eluned Morgan, Health Minister for Wales, urging her to revise the guidance on visiting in maternity services during the pandemic.

Despite Wales having no national restrictions on meeting others at present, visiting restrictions in maternity services are among the most restrictive in the UK.  In one Health Board Cwm Taf, no visiting at all is allowed on antenatal and postnatal wards, despite the neighbouring Health Board Aneurin Bevan facilitating visiting between 8am and 8pm. In other Health Boards visiting is limited to two hours, leaving women and birthing people on their own for most of their hospital stay, and often having to look after a newborn baby despite needing rest and recovery themselves.

There is now clear evidence about the adverse impacts of visiting restrictions on both those giving birth and their partners. This evidence needs to be explicitly taken into account when considering what restrictions are proportionate to stem the transmission of COVID. The coalition is calling on the Government to give a clearer steer that families should not be separated without a very good reason now that testing and vaccination are widely available.

Maria Booker, Programmes Director for Birthrights said:

As a coalition we urge the Welsh Government to revise their guidance on visiting in maternity services as a matter of urgency in order to protect the right of families to be together around the time of birth. Families in Wales have suffered disproportionately and it is time for this to end.

UPDATE- Welsh Government response to letter

Notes for editors

1. A copy of the letter can be found here.

2.  The letter refers to this article by health economist Rachael Hunter that quantifies the mental health impact of the pandemic on pregnant women and that maternity providers have an important role to play in bringing down this cost.

3.  The organisations who signed the letter are: Birthrights, AIMS, Pregnant then Screwed, But Not Maternity, the Fatherhood Institute, Birth Trauma Association, Doula UK, Queer Birth Club, Paternal Mental Health, Sarah Rees (service user rep, Wales).

About Birthrights

Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights. We provide advice and legal information to women and birthing people, train healthcare professionals to deliver rights-respecting care and campaign to change maternity policy and systems.

1 thought on “Alliance urge Welsh Government to rethink guidance on visiting restrictions in maternity services”

  1. How have they still not changed there stance point?
    I came to a north wales hospital on 24/12/21 for reduced movements which resulted in me having an emergency C section and my baby taken in to NICU and I didn’t see him for 4 days. I tested positive on arrival- no symptoms. My partner wasn’t allowed at the birth and he isn’t allowed to see me or the baby for 15 days afterwards.
    I’m on day 12 of being shut in a room, on my own, going through my post natal journey in solitude. Having to deal with having had unexpected surgery and not seeing my baby for 4 days after the birth. Having to go through the post partum journey alone and then dealing with a baby 24/7 alone after he was returned to me has been gruelling.
    There has been no empathy for my human rights or compassion for my situation.
    They didn’t do skin to skin in theatre, it’s not in their policy.
    And they didn’t let me meet my baby in theatre until I shouted out a lot as they were taking him out to NICU and they let me hold him for 10 seconds.

    How can I help stop this happening to other people in the future?
    How can we push the Welsh government more to change their policies?

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