New research finds some employers are preventing partners from getting involved in pregnancy. Recent experience of Strictly celeb couple shows why it matters.
Men are being prevented from attending antenatal appointments.
Obstructive employers are leaving themselves open to the possibility of a tribunal hearing. While the dads are frustrated at being unable to be as involved with their partner’s pregnancy as they’d like.
As Strictly Come Dancing pro Gorka Marquez revealed earlier this month that can have serious consequences. Marquez has spoken about how he struggled when celebrity girlfriend Gemma Atkinson got into difficulties giving birth to daughter Mia.
The results come from a survey of 300 UK mums who have given birth in the past five years. It was carried out by the UK’s leading provider of private midwifery services Private Midwives and published in the UK Maternity Report. More than one in four (28%) women questioned said their partner was unable to attend midwife appointments due to their workplaces not granting the necessary time off.
As a result 25% of respondents said that the dad was unable to be involved in the pregnancy as much as they wished. This can impact partners’ mental health as they lose the opportunity to gain reassurance, support and advice, in advance of the labour.
Women aged 18-29 were the most likely to attend midwife appointments alone due to partners not being permitted time off. Almost one in three (30%) of this age group reported this was the case.
One in 10 women surveyed said that their employer seemed to be uncomfortable with the number of midwife appointments they needed to attend.
Legislation states that pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable, paid time off for antenatal care. Fathers, partners and civil partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off during their working hours to attend up to two antenatal appointments.
Employers who refuse to grant time off could be taken to an employment tribunal.
The research found that a quarter (25%) of pregnant women would prefer midwife appointments to be available outside office hours or at the weekend to avoid these kinds of difficulties.
Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Antenatal appointments are crucial way in which we support and advise not only mum but their partners too. Each appointment is an opportunity for partners to feel involved in the pregnancy, discuss how they are feeling, which is such a special opportunity for both parents. It’s heart-breaking that employers are making it difficult for partners to be involved in this special time, despite legislation being implemented by Government to prevent this happening. This legislation aims to achieve a greater involvement of both child’s parents from the earliest stages of pregnancy.
“By attending antenatal appointments from the early stages, partners will feel more involved in and will have a better understanding of the journey that they and the baby’s mum are on. This can contribute to a more positive birth experience – as it means both partners have had the opportunity to ask questions, learn and be reassured about the birthing process from the outset.”