Visitor ban at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital to tackle COVID-19 leaves pregnant women anxious over births

A visitor ban at Stevenage's Lister Hospital in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus means pregna

A visitor ban at Stevenage's Lister Hospital in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus means pregnant women are facing scans, triage and assessments alone, and new mums face ward stays with their newborns without the support of their partners. Picture: Pexels - Credit: Archant

New mums face time on a ward with their newborn babies alone due to a ban on visitors in a bid to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

There is now a no visiting policy in the maternity unit at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, other than one named birth partner during labour.

This means pregnant women must attend scans, assessments and triage alone. It also means that if a newborn baby and its mother are admitted onto a ward following birth – perhaps due to complications or a caeserean – not even the partner is permitted to visit.

This is in line with national recommendations in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, but could cause major upset for those affected, particuarly when it comes to a father’s opportunity to bond with his newborn baby.

One pregnant Lister patient said: “I’m extremely concerned the birthing partner can’t visit on the ward, during induction - if required - or after the birth to help.

“I understand the need to keep everyone safe but I don’t agree with removing birth partners as visitors. At a time when midwives are more stretched, removing our support seems counter-productive to staff and detrimental to the health of mothers and babies. I am extremely anxious and upset.”

Another said: “This is really not helping expectant mothers’ mental health.”

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A petition on calling for Matt Hancock - Secretary of State for Health and Social Care - to re-evaluate and alter the rules on a national level has amassed more than 250,000 signatures so far.

The petition was started by Emma Payne, who is close to full-term with her second child. She said: “My heart breaks for the women going through this for the first time alone. My anxiety has sky rocketed and I have not been able to rest. Precautions need to be taken given the current circumstances, but women have the right to support during labour.”

If you are a Lister patient and have concerns regarding your pregnancy during the Covid-19 pandemic you can call the new Maternity Advice Line on 07789935620 between 7am and 9pm. Alternatively, contact your community midwife in the usual way.

A spokesperson for East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: “Our maternity visiting guidelines are based on national guidance and are in place to provide safety to our women, staff and visitors. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“We understand that this situation can make people feel anxious which is why the trust has created a new maternity advice line (07789 935620). This phoneline is open between the hours of 7am to 9pm and is for non-urgent queries only.

“It will enable people to call and speak with a midwife about any questions or concerns they may have.

“If you require urgent or immediate care, please contact the maternity unit in the usual manner.”