Pregnancy can be a stressful experience at the best of times, but with Covid restrictions remaining tight for maternity appointments, many are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever.
With the upset of partners and loved ones being banned from vital appointments, women across the country have joined the campaign #ButNotMaternity – raising awareness of the challenges faced by pregnant women due to the strict guidance surrounding maternity.
And Emma Scott and husband Martin, from Currock, are among those feeling anxious, hurt and “forgotten” by the government.
“It should be a really beautiful time, but instead it’s just quite scary,” 26-year-old Emma said.
“You have to go to all midwife appointments on your own, and you’re only allowed one person at the birth, and that’s only when you’re at a certain stage of labour.
“I can’t imagine giving birth without Martin and my mum there, but now you have to choose – and how can you?”
The couple had tried for three years to have a baby, before Mrs Scott went for fertility treatments in Manchester during the pandemic – and had to do so alone. She finally fell pregnant naturally.
The first-time-mum said: “All appointments we’ve had over the past year for everything, I’ve had to go completely on my own.
“There’s no logic behind the guidance – we live together, but Martin has to sit outside the door while I’m having an appointment with the midwife.
“It just doesn’t make sense. It’s so isolating, and you just feel so lonely and like you’ve been forgotten about.”
She added: “The midwives and nurses are amazing, but I know so many women feel the same.
“My anxiety has never been worse, which is really sad because I should be so happy right now.”
Mrs Scott added that while “forgotten” by the government guidance, many pregnant women are turning to holistic approaches, with the help of yoga instructor, Emily Hoyle, who has been holding mum-to-be classes.
“Emily’s been amazing for us all,” she said. “Her sessions have been a lifesaver for so many of us – you can ask each other questions and feel less alone, so they’ve been such a massive comfort.”
She added: “I think [#ButNotMaternity] is really good, because it’s raising awareness of the issue.
“I don’t think people realise just how hard it is, or how much maternity has been ignored by all the guidance and everything that’s going on, and it’s so important to spread the word so people are aware of the really difficult time a lot of women are going through.”
A spokesperson at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We understand how important and special it is having a baby, particularly during the times we are facing.
“As such, we have taken appropriate steps to involve partners of pregnant women as fully as possible whilst ensuring this is in line with national guidance.
“Since September we have allowed partners of pregnant women across north Cumbria to attend all antenatal scans taking place at West Cumberland Hospital, The Cumberland Infirmary and Penrith Birthing centre.
“Birthing partners are also able to be there during the birth to provide support. Partners are being supported to visit post-delivery through an appointment system on both our postnatal wards.
They continued: “All visitors must adhere to infection control measures, which includes wearing of face masks in accordance with Trust Infection Prevention Control guidance.
“Scan rooms will continue to be cleaned thoroughly between all women attending at present in accordance with Infection Prevention Control measures.”