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Overnight visiting in our maternity units

Overnight visiting in our maternity units

From 1 August 2023, we will be welcoming one birth partner per woman / person to stay overnight at our maternity units.

This includes:

  • Orchard Ward, Bedford Hospital
  • Ward 32, L&D
  • Ward 33, L&D

Partner / Companion Staying Overnight – Antenatal and Postnatal Stay

It is important that you read and understand the contents of this page with regards to overnight visiting. You will be asked to sign the paper version of this document on the ward if you choose to stay overnight with your partner / companion.

We welcome partners / companions staying overnight. However, it is with the understanding that you are able to provide practical help and support for mother and baby.

We recognise that this helps with family bonding and reduces anxiety amongst mothers. We would recommend that if you are overtired or have existing health problems, that you do not stay overnight.

Due to our restricted environment and limited space, we are unable to offer comfort facilities such as a bed or showers.

However, we do provide a reclining chair by the bed for rest and you can provide your own blanket if you wish.

We have a responsibility for the health and safety of everyone present and must comply with local policies such as infection control, fire safety and the safety of mothers and babies.

In view of this, partners / companions must agree to the conditions set below in order to stay overnight. Thank you for your co-operation.

Please note: If you or your visitors have an illness such as a cold, flu or vomiting and diarrhoea, please do not visit. Speak to the midwife in charge.

Anyone who is perceived to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed to stay. Children are not permitted to stay overnight.

Conditions for overnight stays

We recognise that for some situations, it is supportive for a birth partner / companion to stay overnight.

We also understand that due to the lack of sleep and relative comfort associated with an overnight stay, it is often helpful for the birth partner to return home to sleep and come back in the morning.

Bedfordshire Hospitals recognises that not all women / birthing people choose to have their birth partner stay with them overnight, for a variety of reasons. For the comfort of all parties, we will aim to provide a bay where there will be no partners staying overnight.

If you decide to stay overnight, we anticipate that you will provide support overnight with elements such as:

  • Obtaining refreshments
  • Supporting to the bathroom
  • Baby care such as changing nappies, feeding and holding baby

If you are staying overnight, you will need to agree to the conditions set out. This is to ensure we can maintain an environment that is suitable for everyone.

If you are unable to meet the conditions outlined, we will not be able to support you to stay overnight and you will be asked to leave.


  • You will need to sign a register to stay overnight so that we know you are present and can account for you in case of a fire but also should we need to evacuate the ward / department.
  • You will be required to wear a wristband, which clearly identifies you as a partner / companion, staying on the ward.
  • If the fire alarm sounds please follow instructions given by ward staff. Do not attempt to leave the ward, staff will guide you.
  • Do not take your baby out of the ward area at any time. We need to ensure that babies stay with the mothers at all times.
  • To avoid babies falling / being dropped, please put your baby back in the cot after feeds, nappy changes and cuddles.
  • Please do not walk around or sleep with the baby in your arms or in the bed.
  • Please ensure you are appropriately and fully dressed at all times. Light weight casual clothes is the recommended attire. Pyjamas, underwear or bare above the waist are not permitted.
  • Wear shoes / slippers (nonslip) and kindly do not walk around in bare feet or in socks.
  • We request that you do not wander around the ward at night and not to leave the ward between 10pm and 8am. Not all women will have a partner / companion to stay and may find strangers wandering around uncomfortable or possibly threatening.
  • If you are a smoker and cannot go without smoking overnight, it is advised you do not stay as you will not be permitted to leave the ward to smoke during the hours of 10pm and 8am. Please be reminded that the Trust adheres to a no smoking policy.
  • If you are not staying overnight, we ask that you observe regular visiting guidance and leave the ward by 10pm.
  • If there is an emergency involving your partner or baby that requires immediate medical attention, please stay calm and let staff do what they need to do. In this instance it would be helpful to stay in the background until the emergency situation is over. A member of staff will provide information and support following the emergency.
  • If there are any concerns for the physical safety of mothers and babies, or staff on the ward, the Security Team will be called to assist at any time.
  • We reserve the right to decline permission for partners or companions to stay on the ward at any time if there are significant concerns that will compromise the safety of mothers, babies and staff on duty.
  • Bedfordshire Hospital operates a Zero Tolerance Policy on violent, disruptive and aggressive behaviour. It is a criminal offence to cause a nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises (CJIA 2008).
  • We reserve the right to ask partners or visitors to leave at any time. Failing to leave will result in you committing an offence under section 119 & 120 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Failure to comply with a request to leave may result in criminal prosecution.

Infection Control/Prevention

  • Please do not sleep in the beds with your partners. The beds are not designed or safe for two people and any damage will have to be paid for. Women / babies are more at risk of developing infections following birth. You may also be more at risk of picking up an infection on the ward.
  • Please use the hand gel and wash your hands before and after you help care for mother or baby.

Dignity / Noise

  • Partners / companions are advised to keep fully dressed while on the ward. We wish to preserve the dignity and privacy required by everyone present including staff members.
  • Please keep noise levels down, and do not use mobile phones or hand held devices that are noisy at night time and after 10pm and 8am. This will help facilitate sleep and rest for the mothers and babies.

Recording audio or visual footage is not permitted in clinical areas of our hospitals

  • We kindly request that our patients do not use mobile phones for recording in clinical areas in the hospitals, without specific consent, as per the Bedfordshire Hospitals Communications Policy.
  • Recording in clinical areas increases the risk of breaches of confidentiality where information of a sensitive nature can be captured.
  • Should you wish to request the recording of your procedure e.g. video recording of a birth for your own personal use, please speak to a member of staff.
  • Where patients / relatives are or are thought to be recording outside of these guidelines, staff will ask them to stop and delete the recording. If they fail to do so, Security can be called and where appropriate and safe to do so, the patient / relative can be asked to leave the premises.

We thank you for your understanding.


  • There is a visitor’s toilet for your convenience situated at the back of the wards, but there are no shower facilities. Please do not use the showers on the ward. We would advise you to go home if you need a shower and proper rest.
  • Tea and coffee will be available but not food.
  • Please bring your own overnight bag, towels, toiletries, blankets and pillows.


Our staff are here to provide care for mothers and babies and so have to prioritise the care they give. On occasion you may have to wait for a few minutes until the call bell is answered, however we endeavour to do so as quickly as possible.

At night there are not as many staff around as during the day time. Please be patient if you require extra assistance at night time. Do alert a member of staff if help is required urgently.

If you have any concerns or worries regarding your partners or baby’s / babies welfare, please ask to speak with the midwife in charge or the matron in charge of the ward.


We would welcome any feedback about your experience as a partner / companion staying overnight. Please speak with your midwife or ward Matron, or complete our Friends and Family Test.


Please note that parking overnight in the hospital grounds is not free. Normal parking charges apply when you are here. We would advise that you park your car outside the hospital in nearby parking spaces/meters if staying overnight. Please ask you midwife for longer stay permits.