On 25 February, Maternity Action and the Refugee Council published the report ‘When maternity doesn’t matter: Dispersing pregnant women seeking asylum.’
In response to the ‘When maternity doesn’t matter’ report, which focuses on the treatment of pregnant asylum seekers by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser of parent charity NCT said:
“We are extremely concerned about the findings of this report. Having a baby can be a stressful time for any woman, and both continuity of care and stability in support networks are of crucial importance to the wellbeing of women their babies. This is of even more significance when the pregnant woman is in a new and strange environment, separated from friends and family.
“Although this study focussed on a small number of women, we are shocked by the high proportion of this group who were moved multiple times during their pregnancy or immediately after the birth. For women who are already at high risk of clinical or psychological trauma or other complications, the disrupting effect of being moved, with no choice or involvement in the decision, is devastating and likely to increase the probability of harm.
“The present government has pledged that women will have ‘one named midwife who will oversee their care during pregnancy and after they have had their baby’, and ‘the best choice about where and how they give birth’. In the cases of pregnant asylum seekers, it seems that these promises are not being fulfilled.
“The report shows that nearly half of the women gave birth alone without a birth partner, which is unacceptable. Birth partners play a vital role during childbirth, helping to provide emotional, physical and practical support and without one, women are more likely to feel worried and stressed during their labour.
“We support the report’s recommendations and urge the UKBA to reconsider its policy of dispersing pregnant women as a matter of urgency.”