Press Releases and Research



72% of pregnant women say that hospital restrictions, which include partner’s being banned until established labour and no visitors on the postnatal ward, are having a negative impact on their mental health.

Sunday 16th January 2022: Pregnant Then Screwed is today releasing figures from a new study of 6,906 pregnant women which explores the impact of the Omicron variant on their mental health. The survey found that a shocking 24.4% of women said they were unable to have a visitor to the postnatal ward, whilst 22.2% said they would have to give birth alone should they contract Covid, despite this going against NHS guidelines.

Hospital restrictions for pregnant women are a postcode lottery with 41.8% saying they couldn’t have a partner with them until they were in established labour, despite research showing that outcomes for women and children are improved when a birth partner is present throughout. The need and importance of support is evident as local councils under NHS Wales have asked for relatives to help with care in hospitals due to staff shortages.

Anxiety is high amongst pregnant women due to these restrictions. 97.9% say they feel anxious, with half saying the restrictions make them really anxious. But it is also evident from the data that a lack of clarity is a key contributor to these increasing levels of anxiety with

62% saying they find it difficult to stay on top of what the latest restrictions are at their local hospital and of those, 68% say that this is having a negative impact on their mental health.

Joeli Brealey, CEO and Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed comments, ‘Giving birth can be life-threatening; not only that, it is completely unforgettable for the parent of any child. Limiting a partner’s access to this momentous and sometimes perilous event is triggering anxiety and mental health issues for the whole family. We have heard from women with PTSD as a result of these restrictions and we know that chronic stress during pregnancy can cause problems for a growing baby. The impact of this will be long-lasting, affecting a mother’s ability to bond with her child and potentially the outcome of her labour. We need to urgently find a solution that works for both the staff and the patients because it is clear that the current setup is failing everyone.

Pregnant Then Screwed attempted to document the restrictions at each hospital trust using publicly available information, but much of the information was unclear or it contradicted itself.

According to the survey, other restrictions include: only one birth partner during labour, no children allowed at perinatal appointments or on the hospital ward, fewer in-person appointments with a midwife and health visitor, only one parent allowed on the neonatal ward and restricted hours on the neonatal ward, no antenatal classes and suspension of home-births.

Quotes from the survey:

‘’As a solo mum with no emergency childcare nearby, I’ve spent £200+ on childcare to attend scans. I couldn’t attend the EPU when I was bleeding as my toddler wasn’t allowed in. I dread getting reduced movement, as they won’t see me with my 21 month old in tow.’’

‘’Restrictions in hospitals/antenatal care has been the biggest stress factor of my pregnancy. Due at the end of Feb and worry daily about going through labour on my own and not having the people I wish to support me. Meanwhile if I gave birth in the pub, at a football match or in the supermarket I could have whoever there.’’

‘’The fear of my partner being kicked out led to my section and the guilt and anger of him being kicked out before he properly held his daughter will haunt me forever.’’

‘’I had covid one month ago and still testing positive and treated like an active covid patient meaning I have to remain in isolation in hospital for my induction and my partner is not allowed to be present until active labour. He won’t be allowed to visit following birth. My birth partner has never had covid.’’

‘’I have a toddler and have had to have emergency appointments due to complications which I have had to attend on my own (these have been last minute appointments so no time to organise childcare). I suffer from anxiety and needle phobia and rely on my husband to help me stay calm to prevent anxiety attacks – doing these on my own has set me back.’’

‘’Recently pregnant and the thought of more restrictions coming in gives me a panic attack, traumatic first birth and genuinely don’t know how I will do it on my own, we also wanted to hire a doula to support both of us (first birth traumatic for partner as well) and this doesn’t look possible. Terrified I will end up with PTSD again without the support I want and need in labour.’’

‘’Home Birth services being suspended and choices being taken away means high levels of anxiety surrounding my birth, when asking for the alternatives it was the hospital ward (which is full of rules and restrictions) and has a much higher risk of me catching covid that staying home PLUS I can’t visit the ward prior to birth so I’d be in a completely unknown environment, which is not conducive to a positive, oxytocin producing birth. The restrictions are countering almost all the things the female body needs in order to birth without interference.’’

‘’My wife and I have been isolating for a solid month; staying home, not seeing friends or family (even over Christmas) and doing all grocery shopping online. We’re living in fear that a positive covid test would prevent me from being with my wife during labour. It’s also causing a lot of stress knowing that I must leave my wife and newborn alone one hour after she’s given birth.’’

‘’I called my midwife team to say I was just experiencing blurry vision and asked to see someone (24 weeks and only seen a midwife once in person), and was told that wouldn’t be possible with restrictions and if I had concerns to present to AE. This is my second pregnancy (first pre Covid) and the support/experience couldn’t be more different’’





For further press information or case studies from Pregnant Then Screwed please contact:  [email protected]


Notes to Editor:



Pregnant Then Screwed is a charity and campaigning group ran by women with lived experience of pregnancy and maternity discrimination.  We want to see an end to the motherhood penalty.

Our free advice line for mothers can be contacted on: 01612229879


Survey details in full: 


This was a self selecting survey which ran through Typeform from 8th – 10th January 2022. There were 6906 responses from women who are currently pregnant or have had a baby in the last month. The results were as follows:


30.7% of pregnant women said they have a mental health issue

13.2% said they have experienced a health and safety issue at work

10.2% said they have experienced workplace discrimination whilst pregnant

3.5% have lost their job whilst pregnant


More than half of pregnant women describe themselves as stressed or really stressed (56.6%)


70.3% said that hospital restrictions have caused them stress whilst pregnant or just after their baby was born. Other issues that caused pregnant women stress were:

  • Misinformation about the vaccine (50.4%)
  • A lack of information about the safety of the vaccine (47.4%)
  • The closure or reduction of health visitor services (38.5%)
  • Lack of priority access to the vaccine (29.1%)
  • Lack of mental health support (20.8%)
  • Lack of health and safety precautions at work (18.4%)
  • Discrimination at work and job loss

65.5% of pregnant women or their partners said that there were restrictions at their local hospital that they were aware of. More than a quarter (25.5%) were unsure whether there were restrictions. Only 9.1% said there weren’t any restrictions at their local hospital

The restrictions were as follows

  • 72.3% said they could only have one birth partner
  • 41.8% said they couldn’t have a birth partner until established labour
  • 39.3% said that only birth partners were allowed on the postnatal ward
  • 37.5% said they had fewer in-person appointments with the midwife
  • 37.3% said that partners were unable to attend antenatal appointments
  • 31.6% said they had fewer in-person visits from the health visitor
  • 31.1% said they could not have a birth partner with them while they were being induced
  • 24.6% said that visiting to the postnatal ward for birth partners was restricted to 2 hours or less
  • 24.4% said they couldn’t have a visitor on the postnatal ward
  • 22.2% said they couldn’t have a birth partner at all if the pregnant women tests positive for Covid
  • 20.2% said that partners were unable to attend any scans outside of the usual 12 and 20 week appointments
  • 16.7% said that only one parent was allowed on the neonatal ward
  • 17% said they had limited hours on the neonatal ward
  • 16.2% said that home births had been suspended
  • 7.4% said that partners could not attend the 12 week scan
  • 5.4% said partners could not attend the 20 week scan


72% of pregnant women said that hospital restrictions are having a negative impact on their mental health


97.9% say that these restrictions and the chance of further restrictions are causing them anxiety. With half saying the restrictions make them really anxious


62.4% say they find it difficult to stay on top of what the latest restrictions are at their local hospital with 68.1% saying that this is having a negative impact on their mental health.

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