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Dads-to-be can join expectant mums at scan appointments

PUBLISHED: 16:52 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 25 June 2020

Maternity ward rules introduced at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals at the height of the coronavirus pandemic are to be relaxed allowing new mums to have visitors.

The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which is responsible for Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton hospitals, are currently following strict national regulations on coronavirus to keep mothers and babies in their care safe.

Not all the restrictions have been lifted, but big changes are coming into effect from Monday, July 6, to support pregnant women and their families.

MORE: Citizens Advice warn thousands having coronavirus finance worries

Ultrasound scans

During the peak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, pregnant women had been asked to attend their scans alone.

From July 6, one adult from the same household can attend 12-week and 20-week scans with a pregnant woman at Ipswich, Colchester and Clacton hospitals.

Both the expectant mum and whoever she brings will be required to wear a face covering during the appointment, which should be brought from home.

Staff will be wearing face masks and PPE for the safety of patients and themselves.

Children still cannot attend ultrasound appointments.

MORE: What changes are coming into effect on July 4?

Visiting maternity wards

Women on antenatal and postnatal wards can now receive visitors at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals.

A woman who has been on either ward for more than 48 hours can have one visitor a day for up to 45 minutes.

The ward clerk or healthcare professional looking after her will be able to arrange a visiting slot.

ESNEFT also ask that the same person visits each time, such as the woman’s birth partner. Children cannot visit wards.

Staggered visiting times are running from 10am to 9pm, seven days a week.

ESNEFT ask all visitors to:

• Book a time to visit the ward and stick to the agreed timings

• Wear a face covering when coming into the hospital, which could be a bandana or a scarf

• Observe social distancing at all times

• Wash or sanitise their hands regularly

• Not linger in shops or communal areas

• Not visit if you have COVID-19 symptoms. These are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, loss or change in sense of smell or loss or change in sense of taste

Birthing partners

Despite a review of social distancing guidelines and ‘one-metre plus’ advice coming into effect from July 4, ESNEFT is not changing their rules on birthing partners.

The following restrictions remain in place:

• Only one birthing partner may accompany a woman in labour

• Only the pregnant woman may attend an induction. Once she is in labour she can be joined by her birthing supporter/partner

• Only one birthing supporter/partner may attend with a woman for an elective Caesarean section

• Only pregnant women may attend maternity triage and antenatal appointments, including appointments with a consultant

Anna Shasha, director of midwifery at ESNEFT, said: “The safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is our number one priority.

“We would like to reassure our women that we will make other changes in maternity services as quickly and safely as we can.

“No two maternity units are the same. We have to carefully assess our own sites and facilities, including the size of rooms we use, for example, to make sure we can stick to the two metre rule.

“For now, some of our restrictions have to remain in place to keep everyone safe.”

ESNEFT chief nurse Melissa Dowdeswell said: “We understand this has been a difficult time for pregnant women and their families.

“We are very pleased we can make these immediate changes to visiting and that we can update our guidance on the attendance of ultrasound scans, which comes into effect on Monday, July 6.

“We have to make decisions to keep women, their babies and our staff safe, but we recognise some of those decisions are upsetting and worrying.

“We are constantly reviewing the restrictions we have in place. We will share updates with our women when we are able to relax restrictions further.”

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