PREGNANCY should be a time of joy for expectant parents, but coronavirus has left many mums-to-be scared and heartbroken as they face being on their own for labour.

Restrictions at Royal Bolton Hospital have banned partners from scans and the maternity ward, only allowing a birthing partner to be with mums in the delivery unit.

Expectant mums are having to face all their scans, and the first hours of labour alone, a prospect which is too much to bear for some.

Stacey Lynch, 30, is eight weeks along her high-risk pregnancy, and can’t face going to her 12-week scan without Christopher, her partner of 11 years.

The mum-of-one from Great Lever has lost 12 pregnancies so far, and the thought of being alone if her next scan brings bad news terrifies her.

She said: “To be given the news that your baby has no heartbeat is devastating enough, now imagine being told this on your own, and then having to give birth to your stillborn alone. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

“I go for my 12-week scan in October and if I’m told my baby doesn’t have a heartbeat on my own I wouldn’t cope mentally.

“No mother should have to face that alone – this baby is also my partner’s, he wants to see his baby and support me if I’m told my baby has died again.

“I think it’s important that your partner or a close friend or family member is present at a scan or midwife appointment, anything can happen during pregnancy.”

Stacey has now been given special permission for Christopher to attend her scans, but worries that other mums won’t get the support they need.

Nicole Kinsella is having her first child, and was forced to make the difficult decision to have a riskier home birth because she couldn’t face labour without her partner Chris.

The 19-year-old from Westhoughton found out she was pregnant just before lockdown started, and has struggled with the restrictions.

She said: “I’ve found my pregnancy very traumatic and worrying, despite how excited we are to meet our little one – attending scans alone has been quite scary.

I think my partner feels quite left out and isn’t very aware of what’s actually happening as the pregnancy progresses.

“It’s been quite disappointing because I don’t think we will be having any more children after this one so my partner will never really get to experience all of the scans he has missed out on.”

Nicole has also struggled with keeping her partner informed about what’s going on with their child, as she finds it difficult to relay all of the information she hears at appointments.

After being forced to go through so many milestones of her pregnancy alone, she’s now turned her concerns to giving birth.

She added: “I’m constantly worrying and getting upset about the situation in Bolton hospital, I’ve had friends and family members be in labour alone for hours.

“I’ve spoken to people who had to be induced and then spend hours alone in the postnatal ward terrified without support from their partners.

“Many women claim to make lifelong friends in the process but from what I’ve heard the ward is currently full of terrified women who are crying and in pain.

“Although I understand the risks of having a home birth with your first child, I feel I have no other option. I couldn’t face going into hospital alone after some of the horror stories I’ve heard.”

“I just really hope I don’t have to be induced as I don’t know how I would cope with that.”

Marie Forshaw, interim director of nursing at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: "Sadly we have had to reintroduce visiting restrictions in maternity. These changes mean that we can only allow one birthing partner when their partner is in labour and we must restrict all hospital appointments including scan appointments to mums-to-be only.

"For women admitted to one of the maternity wards there are no visitors allowed.

"If a baby is in our neonatal unit visiting is restricted to the baby’s parents only on a one at a time basis to facilitate social distancing at any one time. The health and safety of mums, mums to be, their babies and wider families remains our number one priority.

We understand that these are difficult times, especially for pregnant women and their families, and note the recent guidance published by the Royal College of Midwives and the Society and College of Radiographers. Reintroducing visits is challenging during a pandemic; the priority of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust remains the safety of everyone within the Trust including pregnant women, staff and visitors."