Changes to maternity visiting from Friday
New guidance for maternity visiting arrangements are due to take effect this Friday, May 7.
Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that increased visiting will be facilitated in all health and social care settings across the North, in the document ‘A Pathway to Enhanced Visiting.’
From Friday, a chosen birth partner will be able to accompany the pregnant person to any pregnancy related appointments and scans. The birth partner will now also be able to be present for an induction of labour, the duration of labour and birth, and for up to three hours after birth.
In terms of post-natal care, one daily visit from one of two nominated individuals will now be allowed.
Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy has welcomed the announcement and said: “I welcome confirmation that from Friday partners can again company expectant mothers to prenatal appointments and births.
“This is great news and a relief for many families across the north. “We are continuing to make great progress on the pathway to recovery and today’s announcement is another step on that path.”
The Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I fully recognise the importance of visiting for those who are receiving care. I hope this guidance will be widely welcomed.
“It is also important to remember that the threat from COVID-19 remains very real. Everyone has a vital role to play when it comes to safe visiting. That includes social distancing, hand hygiene and not visiting if you are feeling unwell yourself.”
The Department of Health guidance, which will come into effect from Friday, states: “For Maternity Outpatient Services, a chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to any pregnancy related appointments and ultrasound scans where the environment is COVID-19 secure.
“For Labour and Birth, a chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman for induction of labour, duration of labour and birth and, for up to three hours after the birth.
“For Maternity Inpatient Services, one daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where
this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments. Where the visitor requires assistance, then no more than one additional person
will be permitted to accompany them when this can be accommodated within social distancing guidance. Duration of visits should be agreed
with person in charge. Alternatives, for example, outdoor visiting, virtual visits, should continue to be made available.”
To view the document, visit the Department of Health’s website (www.health-ni.gov.uk/Covid-19-visiting-guidance).