Sheffield mum-to-be calls for relaxation of Jessop Wing's Covid rules

A Sheffield mum who is currently expecting her fourth child says coronavirus restrictions on partners attending scans and births are leaving expectant mothers alone at vulnerable times in their lives.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 7:00 am

Frankie-Mae Smith, aged 23, of Norfolk Park, says rules at the Jessop Maternity Hospital in Sheffield which force women to attend scans alone and only allow their partners to attend for a short time during labour or caesarean section are leaving new mums without the support they need.

Frankie-Mae is currently pregnant with her fourth child and has had to attend all her scans so far on her own, leaving her to make potentially life-changing decisions without the benefit of her partner’s support.

And when she had her third baby in May, he was only allowed to be with her for a very short period of time while she was having a caesarean section, leaving her recovering from surgery and looking after a newborn with only the help of busy hospital staff.

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Stock image of an ultrasound examination (Photo credit should read JASPER JACOBS/AFP via Getty Images).

Frankie-Mae has now lent her support to a national campaign called ‘But Not Maternity’, which is calling for all new mum to have the support of a birthing partner through every stage of their pregnancy, and is encouraging people to sign a petition which already has hundreds of thousands of signatures.

She said: “Matt Hancock has now said that partners should be present throughout each stage of pregnancy but the Jessops are currently refusing to even consider changing the rules.

“Going to scans on your own can cause a lot of anxiety anyway but I had to have an early pregnancy scan last week as they say there might be complications – so I am having to make all these decisions without anyone else there.

“And when I had my daughter in May and she needed her bottle I sometimes had to wait 15 minutes for one of the nurses to answer the buzzer. If my partner had been there he could have done it himself.”

The Jessop Wing in Sheffield, home of the neonatal unit.

To find out more about the campaign or sign the petition, visit www.change.org/p/partners-allowed-for-entirety-of-labour-birth-in-all-hospitals.

Professor Chris Morley, chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said the safety of women and babies had to be their ‘first priority’.

He said: “We really do wish we were in different circumstances because we understand how special the arrival of a baby is for couples and their wider family.

"However, Sheffield is seeing a continued rise in cases of COVID-19 in the community and now in hospital admissions and we simply don’t feel we can take the risk of bringing mums, their babies and indeed our staff into potential contact with the virus.

“We will continue to review the situation but safety will continue to be the priority and we would ask people to be kind to our midwives and other staff who are simply trying to do the right thing for everyone concerned so that babies are born as safely as possible in these unprecedented times.”

For full details of all Jessop’s Covid-19 rules, visit www.sth.nhs.uk/our-hospitals/jessop-wing.

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