A HEREFORD mother is calling on health bosses to lift visiting restrictions for birth partners who visit Hereford County Hospital.

Ceri Morris, 29, gave birth in April and says it would have been much better if her partner John could have been with her for support.

She is one of many people affected who are calling to lift restrictions on maternity units so that women’s partners can attend scans, appointments, or labour.

Campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, who have the support of Conservative Party MP Alicia Kearns, say they have been contacted by almost 400 mothers across the UK.

The Government has shared guidance to hospitals and the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the chief midwife have all written to health trusts asking that they lift these restrictions – but the decision is up to each hospital.

Hereford County Hospital’s current guidance does now allow partners to attend any antenatal scans.

MORE NEWS Hereford KFC worker tests positive for coronavirus

The birth partner can attend the delivery suite throughout the stay and the triage for labour assessment.

And they can attend from 10am to 6pm if the woman is undergoing an induction of labour in a side room.

But when in a bay, visiting times are 10 to 12 or 4pm to 6pm On the maternity ward, antenatal women and postnatal women can have the partner visit for a two hour session either between 10am-12pm, or 4pm-6pm.

And if patient is being discharged home then partner can collect mum and baby from maternity ward once discharge is complete.

“Every woman tries to plan their birth which is exactly what I did,” Ceri said.

“I opted for the birthing pool, I set up my playlist for relaxing music and got my camera ready to have some nice pre-birth videos and pictures.

“However, on the day, although many births do not go as planned, not all go differently due to the coronavirus and the restrictions that were in place.

“At the time the restrictions in place were that only one birthing partner was allowed in with you when you were 4cm and they were only allowed to stay for two hours after you had given birth, which is no time at all for any family to bond and enjoy the special moment.

“When we got into the hospital my fiancé, John, was not allowed to come with me to be examined and as a first time mum, I didn’t know what to expect and was nervous as I’m sure many other expecting mums are.

“When I was examined I was told I was only 1-2cm but I was in so much pain I couldn’t get back into the car so they gave me pethidine to try and help me get some rest so John then went home until I was further along.

“I was then taken to a side room where I was on my own trying to get some rest.

“I wasn’t re-examined at any time so couldn’t ring John when I was further along or keep him up to date and after not getting much rest I started to feel something happening so rang for someone to come to check me.

“After telling the midwife I felt like I was pushing she didn’t believe I was and she suggested I was constipated and that I should take something to help and take a shower.

“I knew my own body and told her I needed to be examined, she was reluctant but finally examined me.

“The midwife said I was pushing my waters and after asking for another examination she confirmed a head was on its way.

“I now, whilst pushing had to ring John to get in quick, there was no time to go to the delivery suite and no time to get gas and air.”

Hereford Times:

Due to the restrictions, when John arrived at the hospital, he had to call Ceri to notify the midwife so that he could be allowed in.

“This delayed him being with me even further. Our baby’s head was almost out and John thankfully made it just in time for her to be born at 6.22am.”

She said partners were not allowed in to visit after they left.

“I had no physical support with me at the hospital and found it so stressful being a first time mum, on my own adapting to a new life.

“Nothing prepares you for a baby but I know I would have had a much better time if the restrictions were not in place and had John been there with me for more support, FaceTime isn’t the same as physical support.

“The whole experience for me felt rushed and I feel I was robbed of the support. Although this wasn’t a particularly nice time for me, I have not had it as bad as many others.

“Our baby was delivered safely and she’s a healthy baby but there have been women attending appointments and hospitals alone being told devastating news which they should not be dealing with on their own without the support.”

MORE NEWS This is planned as the second phase of a major housing scheme in Herefordshire

A Wye Valley NHS Trust spokeswoman said they understand it can be a difficult time for women who are pregnant and are giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The extra measures are in place for the safety of women and babies,” she said.

“We are sorry to hear that Ceri felt the standards of care fell below her expectations and we would encourage her to talk to us about her experience by contacting either Herefordshire Maternity Voices herefordshiremv@outlook.com or the trust’s patient experience team on 01432 372986 or email pals@wvt.nhs.uk

“While we continue to have infection prevention measures in place for maternity services in line with government guidelines, these are regularly reviewed.

“Partners are now able to attend antenatal scans, and have throughout the pandemic been able to attend the delivery suite throughout their stay.

“Visiting hours are in place for partners or a nominated visitor on the maternity ward.

“Our midwifery teams continue to provide specialist support for women throughout their maternity journey, which includes individualised birth plans, access to pain relief during labour, and support when parents and their baby return home.”

Aceil Haddad, a Pregnant Then Screwed spokeswoman, said hosptial restrictions had become a postcode lottery.

“Guidance has been clear from NHS England, RCOG, The Chief Midwife and The Government that restrictions need to be lifted,” she said.

“It has become a postcode lottery, as hospitals can differ within 10 miles of each-other as decisions are made at a trust level.

“Birth Partners are key for good clinical outcomes, they are not a luxury, but play a key role in advocacy, care as well as support. They are also necessary for good clinical outcomes.”