Birth partners are not a luxury (UK)

birth partners

Three specialists in reproductive health in UK, Benjamin Black (international humanitarian work and Whittington Hospital, London), Jane Laking (Midwifery Matron, Whittington Hospital) and Gillian McKay (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), have written a letter to the British Medical Journal, Birth Partners are not a luxury.

In response to reports of women being given life changing news alone and being left to undergo induction of labour without support and while in pain, they argue for greater priority to ensuring women are accompanied at all times during the pregnancy, childbirth and postnatally.

They argue the case from four perspectives.

  • Safe service: women and their partners have to want to seek care. “The power dynamics between the health workers and the woman are often complex and unbalanced.”
  • Reducing the workload of “shop floor” clinicians.
  • Rights of pregnancy women.
  • World Health Organisation guidance.

The authors conclude, “There is an urgent need to learn and change approaches before the winter surge of covid-19 transmission, and for the foreseeable future waves.”

birth partners


Black B, Laking J & McKay G (2020), Birth partners are not a luxury, The BMJ Opinion

Header photo: Sheila Dee. Creative Commons.