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Employers are failing to allow women and their partners time off to attend vital antenatal appointments, a survey of 300 UK mums has found.
In the report, carried out by midwifery service Private Midwives and published in the UK Maternity Report, 28 per cent of women said their partner was unable to attend midwife appointments due to not being given time off work.
Missing crucial appointments like these at any stage of a pregnancy takes its toll. Opportunities to receive advice and support ahead of the birth, posing serious mental health risks to all involved.
The news follows Strictly Come Dancing stars Gorka Marquez and Gemma Atkinson recently sharing candid accounts of the struggles they went through during her difficult pregnancy, from a traumatic caesarean section to challenges with breastfeeding and bodily changes.
Young mums-to-be aged 18 to 29 were most likely to report that they had to attend midwife appointments alone due to partners not being permitted time off, with almost 30 per cent of the age group reporting this to be the case.
Legally, 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.
Greater flexibility in appointments times could provide a solution - 25 per cent of pregnant women would prefer midwife appointments to be available outside office hours or at the weekends.
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."
Let's hope increased awareness of the stats involved gives birth to a new employer mentality towards crucial antenatal care.
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