60 MPs sign letter calling for partners to be allowed at births and scans

Video report by ITV News Reporter Martin Stew

For many mothers-to-be during the pandemic, going to hospital without loved ones has been a major cause of anxiety.

Restrictions have meant pregnant women have been unable to have partners with them at scans, and even during labour.

Last week, guidance in England was changed to say expectant fathers should be allowed to go to antenatal scans and clinics as well as be at the birth.

Campaign group Pregnant then Screwed claims two-thirds of NHS trusts are yet to update their policies.

NHS England says many trusts have already made the change but different hospitals have different challenges and it can take time.

Now, 60 MPs, including former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, have signed a letter written by pregnant politician Alicia Kearns demanding they do so.

Sophie Osborn's partner was only allowed in to the hospital once her caesarean was about to be performed. Credit: Sophie Osborn

"Birth is one of the most difficult times of anyone's life it's one of the most exciting but its also terrifying and unknown," the Conservative MP told ITV News.

"I've been lucky that my NHS trust immediately changed the rules so I've had a partner with me for both of my scans...

"Women need this because it is traumatic and it is now safe to do so.

"That is what the experts have said."

For the second half of Sophie Osborn's pregnancy, Covid 19 protocols meant boyfriend Garry Bell could not go to any scans and was only allowed at the birth of daughter Hallie during the caesarean itself.

"I wouldn't like anyone to go through what we've been through," Ms Osborn told ITV News.

"The midwives were amazing you got the support but its not the same as having your loved one next to you and its also that valuable time of bonding really especially after you have your baby."

Garry Bell was unable to visit his partner in hospital for four days before his daughter's birth. Credit: Garry Bell

Mr Bell said currently people can "socialise in pubs, you can go out with your friends and family" but many fathers are in a similar situation to him and are unable to play a larger role in the birth of their children.

He said after half an hour he was unable to see Hallie and told "you've got to leave... that was the hardest thing I had to deal with...

"I'll be honest I had a little cry on the way home I just didn't know what to do with myself. A spokesperson for the NHS said: "NHS guidance has been absolutely clear throughout the pandemic that an exception on visiting restrictions must be made for birthing partners when a woman is in labour. "Now we have moved past the peak, and after extensive engagement with various professional bodies, new guidance has been issued to all maternity units so partners can attend all antenatal and post natal clinics safely."