New mums allowed visitors after birth as Covid rules eased in some areas across Wales

Some health boards have relaxed visiting restrictions for new mothers following a fall in coronavirus rates

New mothers will be allowed a visitor on maternity wards in some hospitals in Wales following a relaxation of Covid restrictions.

It comes following an announcement from two health boards that said it will allow birthing partners to be present for certain times before and after birth.

Many new mothers have faced spending time in hospital after giving birth alone after visits were restricted due to concerns around the spread of coronavirus.

Birthing partners have also only been allowed onto maternity wards during a specific time period during "active labour" or during a caesarean section procedure.

Health boards have been following guidance issued by the Welsh Government, but some have begun easing rules following analysis of the current coronavirus rate and a review of its wards.

However, changes do vary depending on which health board expectant mothers are under, due to different layouts of maternity wards to ensure social distancing, for instance.

  • So what changes have been announced and where?

The Grange University Hospital opened in November last year
  • Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which provides services across five boroughs in Wales, including Newport, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly and Torfaen, said from 13 April, birthing partners will be allowed on its antenatal and postnatal wards between a twelve-hour window of 8am and 8pm.

Only one birthing partner must stay for the duration and they are allowed in birthing areas during "established labour and caesarean section".

"Partners must wear masks, be free of Covid symptoms, tested for Covid on arrival and stay in room with you at all times", it said.

There are no changes to scans and antenatal appointments, the health board said. Currently, a partner can be present for a 12 and 20 week scan only and early pregnancy scans as well as when there are concerns with the mother's or baby's health.

The University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff
  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

For hospitals within Cardiff and Vale, there are no changes to antenatal appointments.

Rules however have been relaxed to allow one birthing partner during a labour assessment, and during the duration of active labour and "immediate postnatal period" - which is no change to the current restrictions.

In terms of visiting, it said women on the first floor maternity - antenatal and postnatal - will have the opportunity of "daily visiting during a specified time period".

Visiting will be for a maximum of one two-hour period per day by one birth partner and that person must be the same birth partner who was present during labour.

It added it was introducing set staggered visiting times to ensure social distancing on its wards.

The Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, which has hospitals in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf said it will be communicating changes as "soon as possible".

Val Wilson, Director of Midwifery said, “At Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB, we are keen to involve families in all aspects of their care during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, and have routinely reviewed visiting restrictions throughout the pandemic using a Wales-wide risk assessment tool. 

"We are currently undertaking further risk assessments of all of our sites to assess what restrictions could be lifted whilst still maintaining the safest possible services for women and babies.  Maternity services facilities and accommodation differs widely between health boards, so risk assessments need to be undertaken on an independent basis.  

 “We are keen to welcome back partners and anticipate that some of these step-down measures will be in place in the very near future. We will be communicating these changes as soon as possible.”

Partners will be allowed to visit mothers and their babies in both Cardiff and Vale health board and Aneurin Bevan
  • Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

In north Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which has hospitals in Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham, said there are no changes to its current rules.

All visiting has been restricted "until further notice to reduce potential exposure and transfer of the virus", it said.

Women are allowed a birth partner once they are in active labour and for the birth, but not for assessments or induction of labour.

  • Swansea Bay University Health Board

Swansea's health board told ITV News there is no current change to its rules, but it is in the process of conducting a review.

  • Hywel Dda University Health Board

Hywel Dda University Health Board which provides services throughout Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire said it is also in the process of reviewing visits.

Mandy Rayani, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, said, "We are working with our Health and Safety team to ensure that what we will be changing is safe to do within our environments, taking into consideration social distancing, use of face coverings and hand hygiene. Any changes that are made will be small to begin with and reflect the cautiousness of our return to full visiting permissions."

  • Powys Teaching Health Board

Powys Teaching Health Board, which is responsible for healthcare in mid Wales, said it continues to follow the latest guidance provided by the Welsh Government.

"We recognise the benefits of partners being present during labour and birth, and for appointments such as ultrasound scans. Please talk to your midwife about your specific needs and circumstances. 

"We continue to follow the latest Welsh Government guidance in relation to visiting our hospitals. Our latest visiting arrangements are available from our website."