UK coronavirus birth partner rules: Expert explains current hospital guidelines

Caroline Allen
Contributor

The easing of lockdown restrictions in England has meant that shops can begin re-opening and people can start to go back to work, albeit with strict social distancing rules in place.

As life partially returns to some normality, what does this mean for pregnant women and their birth partners?

At the height of the pandemic, partners were only allowed to be present during the very last stage of labour with strict rules in place.

But now lockdown’s easing, so are some hospital guidelines.

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Dr Brooke Vandermolen, who runs online antenatal classes at The Birth Collective, explains what the latest update means for pregnant women and their partners.

Dr Vandermolen confirmed that the current guidelines differ region by region, depending on a number of factors.

During the height of the pandemic, partners were not allowed. (Getty Images)

You’ve probably noticed that the rules around how children go back to school differs dependent on what school your child attends, that’s because schools are able to make decisions on how best to manage it.

This is very similar for hospitals.

“The guideline is leave it up to the hospitals,” Dr Vandermolen explains on Yahoo UK’s The Baby Bump with Lauren Pope.

Many people will be wondering why some hospitals are able to facilitate partners and others aren’t. At the moment, it’s not typically down to coronavirus cases, it’s more to do with space.

“It does depend on their ability to achieve social distancing. For example, after the baby’s born, you might stay on the labour ward for a bit but then you’ll get moved to the postnatal ward.

“The postnatal ward is arranged in bays, so if your partner is by your bedside but they end up very close to another partner, they can’t be two metres away, so that might factor into why they might not let partners stay for longer,” Dr Vandermolen explains.

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If you’re giving birth within the next few weeks, Dr Vandermolen suggests asking your hospital of midwife for up-to-date guidance.

Dr Vandermolen says: “I think they will start to relax this. So, instead of being asked to leave at one hour, maybe they can stay for a few more hours, but it will depend on each hospital so ask your midwife what their current policy is.”

Former TOWIE star Pope, who is 34-weeks pregnant, asked Dr Vandermolen whether it might depend on the day if the ward is busy or not as to how long your partner can stay.

“The policy wouldn’t depend on a day-to-day variation,” Dr Vandermolen explains. “So, they’ll either have a rule that birth partners can stay or they can’t but they might have a little bit of flexibility on certain days depending on how busy the unit is.”

“If they’re quite quiet I can’t imagine they’ll be pushing you off within one hour.”

She also says that this information is only valid while there is a low rate of coronavirus cases. If there’s a “second wave” this advice may change.

“If we’re worried that every room has a patient with coronavirus in it then that would factor into it as well.”