NHS guidelines recommend pregnant women cook partner 'special meal' so they don't feel 'overlooked'

pregnant woman cooking dinner
A spokesperson for the public health service has apologised for the "out of date" wording. Photo credit: Getty Images.

If you're getting to the later stages of pregnancy and your energy is largely consumed by growing a human being in your body, you may not feel like running around after your partner.

That's why guidelines from UK healthcare system NHS for new and soon-to-be-mums has is causing controversy by suggesting mothers cook for their partners and seek help when it comes to the household "chores".

In the factsheet for expectant parents, published this week in Metro, one page stated 22 weeks into pregnancy is a "good week to make a fuss of your partner" so they don't feel "overlooked". 

"Partners can get a bit overlooked sometimes - to be fair, they're not lugging a baby around in their belly, but they may be feeling nervous and not sure how they fit into the picture. Could you try cooking them a special meal?" said the advice, which has now deleted off the NHS website.

Recipes for recommended dishes like chicken curry along with fish and chips were included.  

The pregnancy guide also recommended pregnant women seek "help with chores from your partner" in the lead up to the birth. 

Women's maternity advocate Joeli Brearley told Metro: "The [guideline] that pregnant women with pelvic floor pain should get 'help' from their partner suggests that the housework is a woman's responsibility."

She said the phrasing "entrenches and perpetuates" gender stereotypes, "thereby ensuring women continue to do the lion's share of the housework".

"If your partner feels 'overlooked' because you're pregnant, then they might want to consider paying for their own counselling," she added. 

According to Glamour UK, on Monday a spokesperson for Public Health England apologised and said the "wording was out-of-date". 

"We recognise it is not appropriate and we apologise," they said.

"We would encourage all pregnant women to seek help if they need it both physically and emotionally."