Hospitals to consider allowing partners of mothers-to-be to stay overnight to help during births

Keri Bird with her newborn daughter Phoebe Tebbit

Keri Bird with her newborn daughter Phoebe Tebbit - Credit: Archant

A mother has welcomed a review into whether birthing partners should be able to stay overnight in hospital to offer support.

Healthwatch Suffolk said the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, and West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, were both reviewing whether to allow the partners of new mums to stay overnight.

The JPH is going to trial overnight stays to enable partners to support new mums.

Keri Bird, 28, who gave birth to her daughter Phoebe Tebbit in September, said it would be a 'huge advance' for partners to be able stay overnight.

'That first night, I was in a ward completely on my own,' she said.

'It was an eight-bed ward and I was the only person on there.

'When you've got your little baby and you're a first-time mum and you're trying to breastfeed, it's not a happy memory for me. I wished my partner was there to support me.'

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She added that her partner, Jonathan Tebbit, had wanted to stay and help.

'He felt the same as me,' she said. 'He felt helpless he couldn't be there to help.

'When I look back at the whole experience of having her and the aftercare I didn't find it the best experience. I think it would have changed things massively just to have him there.'

What the hospitals say

Jayne Utting, head of midwifery and gynaecology services at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'This report has offered us some vital insights into the perceptions of the maternity service we provide from both the mother and birth partners.

'The report offers some key recommendations for us to look into further and implement.'

West Suffolk Hospital also said it was 'reviewing the possibility'.

Lynne Saunders, acting head of midwifery at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We have permanently extended our visiting hours for birthing partners and children, which has been well received by our families.

'We are currently reviewing the possibility of introducing overnight provision for birthing partners on the ward after the birth of the baby, and are collecting patient feedback and responses to a noise at night survey to identify if this could be a viable option in the future.

'We always aim to be as flexible as possible and judge patients' needs on a case-by-case basis.'

'It indicates to us that hospitals are willing to listen'

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: 'The changes that our local hospitals have made to improve support for new mums and their birthing partners are fantastic and indicate to us that the hospitals are willing to listen, and act upon, the views people have shared with us.

'In particular we are pleased to have been able to champion the voice of birthing partners, who have a vital role to support mum throughout the entirety of her pregnancy.

'We know from our conversations with new parents and their families that these improvements will make a big difference to people's experiences both under the care of the hospital and in the community.'

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