The damage that Covid restrictions have had on the mental health of pregnant women and new mums has been laid bare in a landmark survey.
Nine in ten said virus curbs are damaging their mental wellbeing, with 97 per cent saying
And one in five said they felt forced to have an intrusive examination to ‘prove’ they had entered the final stage of birth, in line with many hospitals’ draconian rules to allow their partner to finally join them.
Nine in ten said virus curbs are damaging their mental wellbeing, with 97 per cent saying lockdown had increased their anxiety around childbirth (file photo)
Campaigners who carried out the study, involving 15,000 women, called the figures ‘deeply concerning’. The Mail on Sunday has been pushing to end the trauma of women going through labour and scans alone.
It comes as 34 cross-party MPs have written to NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens urging him to swiftly roll out the 15-minute tests the Government promised to send maternity wards.
Boris Johnson has said the rapid checks would be prioritised to make sure all women can have a partner by their side during labour. However, campaigners and MPs last night said they have not heard a single example of the tests being used to allow visitors.
The letter, seen by The Mail on Sunday and also signed by senior doctors and midwives, calls for the NHS to recognise childbirth as ‘one of life’s most significant events and not an illness or medical procedure’.
It adds: ‘We firmly believe that no one should have to hear that their baby’s heart has stopped beating without their partner’s hand to hold. No one should be induced while their partner sleeps in a bike shed in the car park for days on end.’
Signatories include Shadow Minister Stella Creasy, former Cabinet Ministers Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey, and Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who has campaigned for the Government to make 15-minute tests available to pregnant women.
Campaigners who carried out the study, involving 15,000 women, called the figures ‘deeply concerning’ (file photo of a pregnant lady getting vaccinated in a hospital)
The letter also raises concerns that women who are forced to have an intimate examination to allow their partners to join them is a ‘breach of women’s human rights when they are at their most vulnerable’. The letter says: ‘The long-term impact of these restrictions for new mothers and their family could be catastrophic.’
Ms Kearns said: ‘It’s long past time for NHS chiefs to step up and end the trauma women and their partners are enduring. The NHS should treat them as a bubble and the appalling restrictions on partners being present be ended once and for all.’
Asked if any 15-minute tests have yet been used in maternity wards to admit partners, NHS England did not respond.
The study into mental health was carried out by campaign group Pregnant then Screwed. Founder Joeli Brearley said of mothers: ‘Their stress and anxiety levels are deeply concerning. Medical research has repeatedly demonstrated the link between stress in pregnancy and post natal depression, as well as health issues for a growing baby.’