Pregnant women were identified as being at elevated risk from COVID-19 early in the pandemic. Certain restrictions were placed upon birth partners accompanying their pregnant partner to in-person maternity consultations and for in-patient maternity care. In the absence of a central directive in England, the nature of restrictions varied across maternity services. Eleven participants (seven pregnant women and four partners), who were expectant parents during the first UK COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, took part in serial interviews in pregnancy and the postnatal period. Data were subject to a reflexive thematic analysis. Four main themes were identified, with sub-themes: uncertainty and anxiety (uncertainty and anxiety about COVID-19, uncertainty and anxiety about maternity services); disruption of partnering and parenting role; complexity around entering hospital spaces (hospitals offering protection while posing threat, individual health professionals in inflexible systems); and attempting to feel in control. Separating couples may result in disruption to their anticipated roles and significant distress to both partners, with potential impacts for mental health and future family relationships. Trauma-informed perspectives are relevant for understanding parents’ experiences of maternity care in the pandemic and identifying ways to improve care to promote and protect the mental health of all parents.
|Number of pages
|International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
|Published - 15 Feb 2023