Having a new baby is usually a wonderful event, but with maternity services geared towards Mum, what does that mean for the birthing partner? Find out how George helped improve the experience of birthing partners.

When his wife was taken away by midwives for medical treatment after giving birth, George was left holding the baby (literally). Alone in the delivery room with his new-born son, George waited for staff to return for nearly an hour. By chance, a midwife returned to find George still holding his son, but feeling completely abandoned and at a loss as to what to do.

George raised his concerns with Healthwatch Bucks who decided to talk to more birthing partners to find out their experiences of Bucks maternity services. They brought together 18 dads in two focus groups and talked through their experience. They also worked with the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) inviting one of the Midwifery Teams to attend the focus groups.
Findings showed that while they appreciated the work of the Midwifery Teams, many dads wanted a clear role during the birth process and to be listened to and talked to during the birth. One dad commented that “You might not be giving birth, but you are important.” Dads also wanted access to information that would tell them what was happening, with most expressing a need for “how to” guides dealing with practical issues such as how to change a nappy from a reliable source such as the NHS. One dad commented “We Youtubed how to bathe the baby.” Based on this feedback, Healthwatch Bucks put together a report with a set of recommendations to involve and support birthing partners.

Using these ideas, BHT Midwifery Teams reviewed all information with the role of the partner firmly in mind. Staff have also been encouraged to talk to partners and keep updating partners with progress. The Trust’s web pages have been updated to provide the information that partners had asked for such as podcasts on feeding and changing nappies. And the Trust’s newsletter to Practice Development Midwives sent reminds staff that “it’s scary for the partner to be left alone in that room with no knowledge of what’s happening to the person they love the most.”

Most exciting of all, the Trust has a new policy saying that the partner should not remain for more than 20 minutes without an update when separated from the mother.

When Healthwatch Bucks told George how his views had shaped future maternity services, he commented, “That would have made such a difference when my wife had our first baby. I know other dads that have been left alone in this situation and its really tough for them.”

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