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Charity urges for protection of women in childbirth during coronavirus

Maternity charity Birthrights also called on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to ensure the urgent release and support of pregnant women and new mothers from prisons

WOMEN in childbirth and midwives must be protected as resources are diverted during the coronavirus crisis, maternity charity Birthrights said today.

Birthrights, which has senior midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists from the NHS front line on its board, warned that the pandemic is affecting all areas of care and that maternity services are facing “huge” upheaval. 

Babies will be born at the same rate as ever during the crisis and, with resources diverted, perinatal services must remain “as robustly funded as possible” and treated as a priority, the charity said.

Programmes director Maria Booker said: “Pregnant women have the right to a safe and positive birth, even during the current pandemic.”

She said that the charity “applauds the dedication” of maternity professions working tirelessly to deliver the best possible care in a fast-moving situation but called on NHS England and the Royal Colleges to ensure that any restrictions on the rights of women giving birth are carefully weighed up against the infection risks.

“Giving birth alone, in an environment not of your choosing, without adequate support, is not something any woman should have to face — even in the time of coronavirus,” Ms Booker said.

Birthrights has also called on Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to ensure the urgent release of pregnant women and new mothers from prisons and mother-and-baby units along with “proper” support during and after this transition.

The shortage of midwives in NHS maternity units has doubled since the start of the outbreak, according to a survey by the Royal College of Midwives, which made a plea to service leaders on Sunday to protect the safety of pregnant women by ring-fencing maternity services during the outbreak.

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