Praise for Ipswich Hospital as it announces that partners of new mums can now stay overnight in the maternity ward

The maternity team at Ipswich Hospital along with new dad Carl Duff and baby Fletcher, celebrate the

The maternity team at Ipswich Hospital along with new dad Carl Duff and baby Fletcher, celebrate the fact they will be supporting families to stay together throughout their hospital stay.

In a move that is likely to help thousands of parents in the years ahead, Ipswich Hospital has revealed it will now finally let the partners of new mums stay overnight at the hospital after their baby is born.


The fresh policy has been introduced on all three of the hospital’s maternity wards – Orwell, Brook and Deben – and aims to help reduce any anxiety for mums while giving partners the chance to bond with their newborn.

The news has been welcomed by hundreds of parents across the county who say having the support of a partner will make the experience of child birth less stressful and frightening.

Healthwatch Suffolk last year launched a survey calling for mothers, fathers and birthing partners to have their say about how the maternity experience at Ipswich Hospital could be improved.

The results show that more than half of mums wanted their partner to stay overnight with them but couldn’t, and 44% of birthing partners would have liked to stay the night but were not given the option to.

As part of the new guidelines, partners at Ipswich are now welcome to stay throughout the admission, and will be offered a reclining chair, blanket and pillow to make them comfortable.

Previously, they needed to leave at 9pm, which meant that anyone whose baby was born in the evening could only spend a short time with them before having to go home.

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Sharon Edwards, lead midwife on the Orwell Ward, said: “We are really pleased that we are now able to welcome partners to stay overnight on our maternity wards as extra support can help women to feel relaxed during labour and throughout their hospital stay.

“Giving partners the chance to be by the bedside can also help them feel actively involved in the birth while encouraging them to bond with their baby in those all-important first few hours of life.

“We have already received some excellent feedback about the initiative, with people telling us that being given the opportunity to stay together has made a big difference at what is a special time for the whole family.”

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, an organisation that seeks to gain feedback from people on health and social care services across the county, said his team were delighted to hear the news.

He added: “We know from our conversations with new parents and their families that this decision will make a big difference to the experience of mums and also birthing partners, who have a vital role to support mum while on the maternity wards.

“Not only will this have benefits for the mother but we also consider that it will be beneficial for maternity staff as allowing a partner to stay overnight means that the birthing partner can help with baby care.”

Healthwatch Suffolk will soon release the full results of its maternity survey, which was launched in the summer of last year and was also conducted at James Paget and West Suffolk hospitals.

What parents have to say about the announcement

Abi Davis said the new policy would have been “fantastic” when she had her little girl 21 months ago.

She added: “I was in such a rush to get home as I don’t like staying in hospital on my own. I also felt very uncomfortable as I am a young mum and didn’t want people to judge. I’m very pleased this has been put in place.”

Leanne Hadley said: “I think it is a great idea to let the partners stay with the women overnight once having a baby as it gives not just the female time to bond and get use to the new arrival but also gives the father of the baby time to and gives time for both to bind together as a family.

“When I had my little boy at night my partner wasn’t aloud to stay and had to go home and I was quite upset about that.”

Jess Ellis had her baby just over a year ago at Ipswich Hospital and she said she would have been uncomfortable having men in the maternity block with her overnight.

She added: “Breast feeding was really tough and I think if my partner stayed I wouldn’t have asked for the much needed help for feeding etc. It’s difficult enough sleeping in a ward with four newborns let alone partners as well. At least your partner can home and have sleep so he can take over the next day while you sleep.”

Chloe Strudwick had her son at Ipswich Hospital five months ago at midnight.

She said: “Before I knew it my husband was asked to leave, over the next few hours I became quite stressed and felt vulnerable and would have benefited on having my husband by my side to help me go through this new experience. I needed support to reassure myself that everything was fine.

“I think it is amazing that the fathers can now stay. You are in this together.”

Charlotte Jarvis gave birth to her first daughter Ella, now 10, at Ipswich Hospital in 2005.

She said: “Although I had a relatively easy birth, my daughter was born early in the morning, which meant I had been up all night and then had to stay up all day with her. Coupled with excess blood loss and I found it incredibly hard. If I’d been able to have my husband with me, he could have fed our daughter and comforted her while I caught up on some well-earned rest. It would have made life so much easier.”

Kelly Emsden’s son Fletcher was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit after he was born and Ms Emsden spent two nights in Ipswich Hospital.

She said: “I sobbed each time Andy left. This will be fantastic for future mums who find themselves in similar situations.”

Rebecca Chalklen said: “My husband stayed with me in September when I had my second baby and he slept on a chair but he was just happy to be with us. With our first he was sent home two hours after my son was born by emergency c-section and I’d been in labour for 23 hours, so absolutely shattered. It really does make such a difference for them to be able to stay.”

Becky Rodwell’s husband was allowed to stay overnight with her when my son was born three years ago as a special favour.

She said: “It was my first baby and so very daunting and I asked if my husband could stay with me for the night as I wanted the support. The maternity ward went to a lot of trouble to arrange a side room for us as a family which made a big difference to us.”