We want the Department of Health, Health Minister Robin Swann and the five Health Trusts to recognise that the partner of a pregnant person is not a visitor.
We want the pregnant person and their chosen partner to be viewed as a single unit, or a "Birth Bubble", that can attend:
- all antenatal appointments
- all scans
- foetal medicine
- early pregnancy unit
- admission & assessment
- antenatal inpatient wards*
- induction of labour
- postnatal wards*
* within reason eg not overnight on wards
Why is this important?
Birth partners are not visitors; they often are the other parent to the baby/babies and provide essential physical, mental and emotional support during pregnancy and birth.
While pregnancy is not an illness, pregnant people are particularly vulnerable emotionally and mentally, and having to attend appointments without the support of a trusted partner can leave them feeling alone, scared and anxious.
This can lead to mental health issues.
Prior to the pandemic, one-third of women found their birth experience traumatic, which can significantly affect their lives, their relationships and their transition to parenthood; restrictions are compounding this.
Birthing people and their partners should be treated in an holistic way, protecting their physical, emotional and mental health.