19 May 2021, 9:10 p.m.

From Monday 24 May 2021, birth supporters will be able to attend all antenatal appointments, including ultrasound scans, and continue to support you during labour and birth. An additional supporter may also be present during labour, and we are extending visiting on our postnatal ward.

Restrictions to maternity attendance and visiting are to be eased from 24 May 2021 to allow our maternity patients a greater degree of personal, physical and emotional care and support. The new measures apply to those attending antenatal appointments, as well as during labour, birth and for visiting our Maternity Ward after the baby has been born.

The availability of rapid swab testing is one of the key things that has enabled increased access during labour, birth and the postnatal period. People can access these tests in a variety of ways before presenting evidence of their results when they attend our hospitals to accompany someone in labour or visit the maternity ward. We encourage birth supporters to take rapid flow tests twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check whether they have the virus.

All those attending our hospitals are asked to follow the COVID Safety advice on our maternity pages (note that this page will be updated with this new information on 24 May).

We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 infection and transmission rates, while offering our maternity patients and their loved ones more flexibility and freedom. We will review further changes in accordance with local and national guidance.


For labour and postnatal visiting, birth supporters and visitors will need to complete a rapid swab test (lateral flow test) before attending our hospitals.

Antenatal appointments

1 birth supporter can attend all routine antenatal appointments with you, including consultant appointments and ultrasound scans.

Please note: as social distancing must be maintained, your birth supporter may not be able to remain in the waiting room with you; they may be asked to wait in another area before being called back at the appointment time.  

This only applies to hospital premises, and rules at your GP surgery or community settings may vary. 

COVID tests for birth supporters

Birth supporters should order a rapid swab (lateral flow) test and complete it before attending our hospitals for labour, birth and postnatal visiting. You can order rapid swab tests from the NHS.UK website, or collect up to 7 rapid tests from your local pharmacy or test site.

The rapid swab test is a nasal swab, which provides test results after 30 minutes. Birth supporters will be asked to complete a test when:

  • attending labour and birth
  • attending induction of labour
  • attending a caesarean
  • visiting inpatients on the maternity ward

Labour and birth

Your birth supporter and 1 other person can attend our delivery suite or birth centres, and stay during labour and birth.

They must wear a hospital grade face mask and any other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while they are in the hospital and birthing room.

To accompany you, both birth supporters will need to provide evidence of having taken a rapid swab test in the last 72 hours and received a negative result

Induction of labour

Birth supporters can accompany you on admission for your induction and stay throughout your labour, if they have received a negative result from a rapid swab test in the last 72 hours.

Birth supporters are required to wear a mask

You will also need to take a coronavirus test on admission before you are induced.

Caesarean section

Birth supporters may accompany you during your admission for caesarean.

The birth supporter can stay with you throughout the procedure if their rapid swab test is negative.

If you have an elective caesarean, you will have your coronavirus test before you’re admitted.

Home birth

Our midwifery team still supports home birth services, as long as you and other members of your household are not experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.

Postnatal visiting

1 person (per bed) can visit the maternity ward between 9am and 9pm, if they can provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test taken in the last 72 hours.

Your partner or other birth supporters will also be able to stay overnight on the maternity ward, from 9pm to 9am if they have negative lateral flow result.

Siblings and children under the age of 16 will not be able to visit.

Birth supporters may be asked to provide evidence of their negative lateral flow test every day they attend the maternity ward.

All visitors must wear a mask at all times.