#ButNotMaternity was a social media campaign started by doulas at The Birthbliss Academy. It has organically grow into collective of volunteer campaigners, all aiming to ensure that maternity restrictions in the UK are evidence based and proportionate to the risk of birth trauma as well as Covid-19.
We thank the following organisations, who each work independently in the birth field, for coming together in sharing their expertise to make change happen - supporting both parents and birth workers through the Covid-19 pandemic and associated maternity restrictions. We hold a weekly meeting to discuss and share news and resources. If your organisation would also like to join this alliance please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions or require comment regarding the campaign, please contact email@example.com and you will be forwarded to the most relevant person or organisation.
#ButNotMaternity is a hashtag that has galvanised many parents and campaigners with one clear voice, supporting the birthing rights of all parents and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Restrictions on partners attending scans and appointments, as well as the time allowed into labour wards for birth partners, have become a post-code lottery. Whilst some Trusts have managed to work without any restrictions since the end of the first lockdown, many have left them in place ever since - and a myriad of others sit in between. We understand that every ward has differences - there is no blanket set of rules that will work for all to ensure social distancing and safety for both staff and parents. However, we believe that there is more that can be done, best practice and innovative ideas that can be shared, and that the risk of birth trauma should be taken in to account when risk assessing restrictions.There have been studies that show restrictions have adversely affected the health and well-being of parents and their babies. So many stories have been shared online using #ButNotMaternity, about traumatic births, stillbirths, women birthing alone. And yet as many organisations, MVPs and members of the public fight for change, they are not being heard or given the consideration that they deserve.
UPDATES AND RESULTS:
Whilst the government can request that NHS England makes changes, they cannot enforce them. NHS England can set guidelines for their 125 trusts to follow, but they are GUIDELINES and not RULES/LAWS. Each Trust follows it's own regulations and policies in place.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Sign our petition (link below).
If you are being personally affected by the restrictions:
Write to your MP. You can find their contact details here. MPs cannot make changes directly with their local trust, but they can help raise awareness in Parliament and open meaningful conversations with Trusts on behalf of their constituents.
Please use one of AIMS template letters to write to your Trust and copy your local MP
Write to your NHS Trust, your hospitals PALS or your MVP to ask them when and if they will be lifting restrictions. If their restrictions seem illogical or unfair to you, ask them for the reasons behind those restrictions - you can request to see the risk assessments under the Freedom of Information Act (although that may require a different email address to the maternity department, and can take up to 4 weeks to be replied to).
Where restrictions cannot be lifted, ensure that you are as prepared as you can be. Research all of your options, ensure that you look in to local ante-natal services, local and online support groups and enlist the help of a local doula to emotionally and practically support you throughout your pregnancy, labour and birth - even if it has to be virtually. In lieu of face-to-face care, there is still so much that can be done virtually now.
If you work in maternity care, there are ways of working that can help ease restrictions safely:
Please share best practice between trusts - seek out those trusts who have managed to lessen restrictions
Keep us updated so we can share updates (see the list below)
Birthworkers are all welcome to our open discussion group on how we can best support our clients here
If you are a local birth activist:
Please adapt this AIMS template campaigning letter to lobby your Trust.
Started by Jess Celestine at Developing Doulas, Click here to view all 125 NHS trusts across the UK and their current restrictions. This spreadsheet is volunteer led and takes a lot of time to update (especially with constant changes!). If you spot a mistake, or have an update from your Trust, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org in case we miss it on their website/social media. Thank you!
There are several nationwide directories to find a local doula, learn more about what they do and apply for access funds, or buy gift vouchers for care for your loved ones who are pregnant.
Doulas work in person where possible and many now offer virtual support too, during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period - for all parents.
For those worried about the costs involved, there are options with most doula's for friends and family to buy vouchers from them. This can be a wonderful present to receive, and can hugely help when the people who would usually be your support network are unable to travel to be with you in person.
If you are in real need, and unable to pay, then there are also charities and funds you can apply to for free doula support:
https://doula.org.uk/doula-access-fund/ (UK wide)
https://www.doulaswithoutborders.com/ (UK wide)
https://www.thedoulaassociation.org/doula-charities.html (a list of many options around the UK)