Written by: Joanne Concannon, Midwife and KeepaBeat Franchise Owner
NOTE: Information is guidance one and will be individual to each trust and can be changed at any time. Please check with your local trust for specific information.
Pregnancy can be full of anxiety at any time but during COVID-19 there have been extra anxieties that no one could have predicted. You are looking forward to this new chapter of your life and should be so full of excitement but the unknown of pregnancy during a pandemic is overwhelming. We have put together some information to try and make that journey a little smoother and answer some frequently asked questions.
Why is my partner not allowed to attend scans?
This is probably the most asked question of all. There are a few reasons but the main one is to protect you and your baby, your partner and the hospital staff from increased exposure. Usually waiting areas are small and to enable appropriate distancing, pregnant women must attend alone. All Trusts have their own guideline and most do not allow videos to be taken due to the diagnostic nature of scans. They will, however, give you pictures (most are offering this for free)
Some private scanning companies are allowing partners to attend – check local companies
Do I have to wear a mask on the antenatal or postnatal ward or when attending clinic?
This is down to individual Trusts to decide but most are encouraging masks to be worn on shared wards or when attending appointments to protect patients and staff
What should I expect at my appointment?
Again, this is down to individual Trusts. Most have a ‘stop and wait’ system in doorways to take temperatures, if needed, and to ask questions regarding any current symptoms or of any self-isolating family members. Some buildings will also have one-way systems or up / down lifts and stairs. Check with your local hospital whether you must attend appointments alone as some Trusts are allowing partners to certain appointments.
Your appointment may be changed to a telephone or video call rather than face to face. This is to keep you protected from any unnecessary or extended periods of time in the hospital environment. It is also to keep waiting areas less crowded for more urgent face to face appointments. Your health professional will still offer you the same level of care it just may be in an alternative way.
My baby’s movements have changed but I am worried to attend hospital due to COVID positive patients?
Most hospitals will have separate areas for COVID positive patients and all areas should have hand washing facilities and hand gel available. You must never delay seeking professional help if your baby has altered movements. The only way your baby has to let you know they are ok are movements, if they change, either less movements, or substantially more movements you should phone your local Maternity Unit for advice. Never leave it until the next day.
What should I expect when someone visits me at home?
Your midwife will attend wearing appropriate PPE in line with the current guidance. Some appointments will be over the phone and a phone call will usually be made prior to a home visit to check for any symptoms. If possible, please make sure there are no visitors in the house at the time of the appointment and have windows open for ventilation.
Will there be any Antenatal classes or birth workshops?
Most face to face classes have been cancelled but many Trusts have You Tube channels where they have uploaded birth workshops, delivery suite tours, breast feeding support and other helpful information. Also look on Facebook for e-midwife services for general enquiries. There are also private providers of birth workshops.
What about labour, what happens then?
Some Trusts are taking COVID swabs on admission in labour or prior to elective caesarean section. If you have to attend triage or be induced, you will most likely be asked to attend alone until you are in established labour.
If you would like a Home Birth it will depend whether your Trust is still running a service, whether there are enough staff available and whether there are emergency transport services available in an emergency. This will change depending on current guidance.
Do I have to wear a mask in labour and will I still be allowed pain relief?
You WILL NOT be expected to wear a mask in labour, the staff taking care of you will be wearing appropriate PPE and your partner may be asked to wear a mask. You will still be offered the same choices of pain relief, there is currently no evidence that gas & air (Entonox) carries any risk factors for COVID.
Can I still breast feed my baby?
There is currently no evidence to suggest that breast feeding is a risk even if you have tested COVID positive. In all cases hand washing precautions should be taken but if COVID positive you should also wear a mask when feeding.
Will my partner be allowed to visit me on the postnatal ward?
At most trusts, no. Some are allowing very limited visiting to birth partners at an allocated, pre-bookable time slot.
Can I still do skin to skin with my baby?
There are many benefits to skin-to-skin and this will be encouraged unless your baby needs to be closely checked over following delivery.
Benefits include: - calming and relaxing for mum and baby, regulates the temperature, heart rate and breathing, stimulates digestion, enables colonisation of baby’s skin with friendly bacteria from mum, stimulates feel good hormones
Can I register my baby’s birth?
This service has been closed for many weeks; most are starting to reopen but will have a large backlog. This will not cause a delay in your Child Benefit Claim.
I need mental health support; will this still be available?
Yes, this is still available, but the same as antenatal appointments it may be via an alternative method such as telephone or video call. Local services such as IAPT or CRISIS also offer online support where you can self-refer.
What appointments will I receive after having my baby?
Your baby will still be routinely weighed and be offered the Newborn Blood Spot test. You will still have access to feeding support. If you have had a caesarean or any stitches these wounds will routinely be checked. After you are discharged from Midwifery care you will be handed over to the 0-19 Service who will be in touch to let you know what their service has to offer (look out for future blog posts on this)
I am living with an abusive partner and feel isolated even more due to COVID how can I get support?
Health professionals will ask at any appointment you attend alone whether you are experiencing domestic abuse and signpost to other services if needed. Over 1/3 of domestic abuse begins or worsens during pregnancy. Domestic abuse services are still available and most offer online support or 24 hour helplines. Contact www.refuge.co.uk or www.womensaid.org.uk
Am I classed as vulnerable for COVID?
Current guidance suggests that even though the Government have put pregnant women in the vulnerable category, unless you have other health concerns you do not need to shield but it is recommended that after 28 weeks gestation you should undertake stricter social distancing measures.
ANTENATAL CARE IS CLASSED AS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE SO YOU SHOULD ATTEND ALL APPOINTMENTS UNLESS TOLD OTHERWISE
YOUR BIRTH CHOICES WILL BE RESPECTED WHERE EVER POSSIBLE
ALL THE ABOVE INFORMATION IS GUIDANCE ONLY AND WILL BE INDIVIDUAL TO EACH TRUST AND CAN BE CHANGED AT ANY TIME – PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL TRUST FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION – all info correct as at 9th July 2020
Information sourced from: