Pregnant women were 'stressed' without birthing partners due to Covid

Researchers found substantial stress was caused by women not having their partners present.

Pregnant women felt ‘anxious and isolated’ by Covid restrictions, study indicates iStock

Coronavirus restrictions during the pandemic made pregnant women feel anxious and isolated, according to a new study.

Researchers at the universities of Aberdeen and Dundee looked at changes in maternity care provision over the course of the pandemic, as well as their impacts on patients and staff.

They surveyed and interviewed more than 2500 people, as well as more than 450 maternity staff, who used or were working in maternity services from June 2020 to July 2021.

The study found that care during labour and after the birth was well received by the vast majority of women.

A majority, 86% of those surveyed, rated their care during labour as excellent or good and 76% rated their care after birth as excellent or good.

However, the findings also revealed that substantial stress was caused by women not having birthing partners present at various points during antenatal and postnatal care and during the early stages of labour.

Most (89%) of those who responded reported attending antenatal appointments alone, with 67% saying that they felt uncomfortable in doing so.

After giving birth, most women (73%) felt they should have been able to have their partner/a supportive person with them more often in the postnatal ward.

Many women noted that restrictions around partners being with them after the birth had felt excessive, and the rationale for the restrictions not well communicated, the study indicated.

Dr Mairead Black of the University of Aberdeen who co-led the study, explained that pregnant women not being able to have their partner accompany them to scans in early labour led to “great anxiety”.

“This wide-ranging study reveals a lot about the impact that Covid restrictions had on maternity service users and staff,” she said.

“One of the clearest disadvantages of the restrictions centred around women not being able to have a partner with them as much as they would have liked.

“Many women told us that knowing in advance that their birth partner would not be able to accompany them to scans or in early labour led to great anxiety, as well as when it actually happened.

“The need to physically distance and replace in-person visits with phone or video calls has led some to feel they had a lesser relationship with their doctor or midwife, and staff too have reported a frustration and conflict between what they were allowed to do and what they would normally do to support a pregnant woman and her partner.

“Having said that, overall, many women were complimentary of the service they received and some aspects of the maternity service that were forced to change in order to meet Covid requirements have actually been well received by women and staff alike and may well remain, in some form, post-Covid.”

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