Mums-to-be in the borough have hit out at the lack of support during their pregnancies as “unacceptable” and “the worst time of my life” in a review of services in the pandemic.
Healthwatch Hounslow carried out a survey between May 26 to July 1 with more than 3,300 respondents from the borough sharing how coronavirus and lockdown had impacted them.
Residents gave feedback on hospital services, mental health support, access to GP surgeries, pharmacies and more during lockdown, and Healthwatch, the health and social care services watchdog, found that “little or no” positive feedback was given from expectant or new mothers.
A report, brought to Hounslow’s Health and Wellbeing Board on November 4, said that users found midwifery and health visiting services delayed or reduced, or described as “non-existent” in one case.
One mother commented: “Very disappointed in antenatal care during pregnancy. My only midwife appointment was in February and we are now in June, and my glucose blood test cancelled.
“Not my midwife nor anybody else called me to check if my health is OK being pregnant and shielding at home on my own since March. Unacceptable.”
Another mum gave feedback on support for her mental health, adding: “I am pregnant, ill and severely depressed. Midwifery has been indifferent and virtually non-existent.
“My mental health issues have been ignored. I hope once I give birth I never have to deal with the hospital services ever again as they have turned my much wanted pregnancy into the worst time of my life.”
Comments from others urged for more support for mums-to-be as they feel anxious about having their first baby, and extra contact would have been reassuring.
One mum said: “Now they [expectant mums] have to contend with keeping safe, staying at home which affects their mental health, not being able to have the support of friends or other mums who may be in the same situation.
“And a lot of hospitals are not allowing their partners to be at their birth. It’s a lot to deal with for new mums. I think they at least should be having a regular call from the midwives offering their support between appointments.
“We are living in very difficult times.”
Among the report’s recommendations is a hotline service to be established, or specific support services for pregnant women and new mums.
It reads: “While we recognise that services are reduced and home visiting is difficult, this needs to be balanced with the needs of patients, some of whom are isolated and in difficult situations.
“We urge services to make contact, if possible regularly, with patients to check on needs and welfare.”
To read the full report and recommendations click here.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
November 6, 2020