Changes announced for partners of pregnant women giving birth and attending scans in Sheffield
Birth partners are now allowed to be present at scans at Sheffield’s Jessop Wing maternity unit, as well as when babies are born and during labour.
Until today (February 11), strict Covid restrictions were in place at the Jessop Wing for birth partners wishing to attend scans.
These rules remained in place in Sheffield in spite of Government guidance around the presence of partners changing in December 2020 to allow them to be there ‘at all stages’ of the pregnancy.
Previously, on June 5 last year, a blanket ban on birth partners was lifted and some hospitals started to allow partners to attend births and labour. However, scans remained prohibited until the end of the year.
Now an update from the hospital has confirmed that partners can attend scans as long as they abide by rules in place to keep people safe.
A spokesperson for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are pleased to announce that thanks to the hard work of our maternity team, we have now been able to redesign our facilities to enable partners or a nominated support person to attend the 12 week first pregnancy scan dating scan and the 20 week anomaly scan at Jessop Wing from today.
“We have created additional space and routes through the scan department to enable appropriate social distancing and also introduced additional infection control measures to limit the potential for Covid-19 transmission.
“Your birth partner can be with you throughout labour and birth and also for caesarean section, unless you need a general anaesthetic.”
Partners can also be present at labour inductions, and lateral flow testing has been made available to women and their partners.
The Jessop Wing rules state: “This is to enable your birth partner or companion to be present throughout the induction of labour process, during the day if they have a negative Covid-19 test result.
“The results of the lateral flow test can take up to 30 minutes, so please understand that your birth partner will need to wait for the results before they come onto the ward.
“You can say no to the test but, to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19, your partner will then only be able to visit you for one hour each day if we cannot be sure they are Covid-19 negative.”
In order to attend births, scans and labour inductions, partners are advised to wear masks, wash hands using sanitiser, maintain social distancing from staff members and to make sure they do not attend if they are feeling unwell in any way.
Those attending births must remain by the bedside of their partner, and those attending scans must be over 16 years old and must leave the room straight after the scan.
Partners and nominated to support people over 16 can visit the antenatal and postnatal wards for one hour per day, in a nominated time slot with PPE and social distancing.
The Sheffield NHS spokesperson added: “We know how difficult the last year has been for everyone, and we would like to thank women and their birth partners for their patience and understanding while we have been working hard to find an appropriate solution which strikes a balance between keeping everyone safe and enabling the special moments during pregnancy and birth to be shared.”
Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake had campaigned for the change even before experiencing the heartache of learning she was having a miscarriage without her partner being present to hold her hand in August.
She told how the change in policy would make a huge difference to many women and their partners, and how she was pleased that no one would have to go through what she did on their own.
“Lots and lots of families will be really pleased this has changed because it means they will now be able to go to appointments in a more relaxed way,” she said.
"I think there was a lot of stress a lot of people were feeling about going to appointments on their own, so this is really welcome news.
"Since I shared my story I’ve had hundreds of people contacting me about the difficulties they were experiencing up and down the country.
"For me it was such a stressful experience and I felt so isolated afterwards, having to go through that and not even get a hug from anyone.
“The staff at the hospital weren’t even able to hold my hand or pat me on the shoulder. It was so clinical because of Covid, and having someone there would have made a huge difference.
"Someone was there but they were in the car park outside, not knowing what was going on. The thing I found most challenging was having to go out and explain it to my husband and him not being able to ask questions and me being obviously very upset.
"I said at the start that I didn’t want anyone to go through what I had to alone, and this change will make such a difference to those who do unfortunately get bad news.
"But it should be a time of celebration for a lot of parents-to-be, and this means they will be able to see that first or second scan together, which is such a huge part of going through pregnancy in modern life.
"Obviously I would have wanted this change to be made faster, but given the nature of the work the trust has had to do to keep people safe I can understand the time it’s taken.”
and being able to see that first or second scan together.”