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A prominent feminist campaigner and writer has described in devastating detail how she was left feeling “humiliated and alone” as she was forced to deal with a miscarriage without her partner.
Caroline Criado Perez, the author of Invisible Women, called on NHS trusts to allow partners to attend medical appointments, scans and emergencies in maternity services, because the refusal to do so was “traumatising an already traumatised woman”. She added: “It needs to stop, now.”
At the start of the coronavirus crisis, the majority of NHS trusts began preventing partners from accompanying pregnant women to the majority of maternity appointments, and reports suggest this is still the case in many areas.
Writing about her experience in her newsletter, Criado Perez said that she had driven to the maternity unit “inevitably full of women with babies and round bellies, while my belly was dripping into my pants”.
“I didn’t expect to have to walk in completely alone, because my partner was not allowed to come in with me – yes, even if you’re bleeding copious red blood and passing clots,” she wrote.
She added that while she knew those who loved her would tell her she had done nothing wrong, she couldn’t help feeling humiliated. “Try not feeling humiliated bleeding with your pants off in front of strangers while being told that your body has failed in one of its most basic functions, and there is no one in the room to turn to,” she wrote. “I keep replaying the moment in my mind. I’ve never felt more vulnerable, I’ve never felt more utterly alone.”
In September the Guardian revealed that three-quarters of NHS trusts were not allowing birth partners to support women throughout their whole labour, despite being told by the NHS and Boris Johnson to urgently change the rules on visiting.
In the UK one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, according to the Miscarriage Association. The Duchess of Sussex revealed last month that she had suffered a miscarriage in July and been admitted to hospital.
According to a November survey by the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed (PTS), 82% of respondents said their local hospital had restrictions in place (for labour or scans), while 90% said that these restrictions were having a negative impact on their mental health.
Of the 5,131 pregnant women who responded, 77% said their hospital had restrictions in place that would prevent their partner attending the duration of labour. Of these, 97% said restrictions had increased their anxiety around childbirth.
Criado Perez described how she had dreaded going for a scan alone. “The night before the scan I had a panic attack about going through it on my own,” she wrote. “But I also tried to tell myself that these were extraordinary times, that we all had to make sacrifices.
“Having now been through it and experienced that trauma first hand, I can tell you that the refusal to allow partners to attend scans is inhumane.”
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said that throughout the pandemic the needs of pregnant women had been ignored. “Pregnancy is such an all-encompassing experience. It can make you feel vulnerable and powerless, particularly when you are told that your baby’s health is in jeopardy,” she said. “How a society protects and supports pregnant women is not only a measure of our humanity, but it is also critical to a well-functioning society.”
She said pregnant women had received little guidance from the government about their health and safety rights. Last month survey data from PTS suggested that pregnant women were being put at greater risk during the second wave of the pandemic. It found that just 1% of 5,131 surveyed pregnant women said they had been suspended from work because of their pregnancy, compared with 76% when the group asked the same question on 28 April.
“The government and NHS officials must now step up and fix these problems to keep pregnant women safe and supported. We are devastated for Caroline and her partner,” said Brearley.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Author who suffered miscarriage alone demands end of NHS Covid partner ban | Caroline Criado Perez