Advice if you are pregnant
Advice on attending our hospitals if you are pregnant, including who you can bring to appointments and birth units.
Last updated: 8 July 2020
After careful consideration of latest national guidance for maternity services produced jointly by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, we have taken the difficult decision to impose certain restrictions for partners of women attending our Maternity Ward and Birth Units.
This does not affect your labour and birth, for which your partner may still support you from your admission, but it does affect the period beforehand and afterwards.
To protect families and our staff and ensure compliance with social distancing measures to further prevent the spread of coronavirus, these temporary measures mean that partners are restricted to supporting women in labour, birth and the immediate postnatal period, the latter for up to 4 hours following birth. This applies whether you are giving birth on the Delivery Suite at the GRH Women’s Centre or at one of our three Midwifery Led Birth Units.
This means that if you require antenatal admission, for example for induction of labour, your birth partner will not be able to attend until your labour begins. The restrictions also mean that partners will have to leave four hours after you have given birth, so they can no longer stay overnight.
In scenarios like this, we understand that it may be upsetting not to have your birth partner with you but these essential, temporary restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus to you, your baby, the maternity staff and birth partners themselves. Please be assured that during this time, midwifery, obstetric and support staff will be there to support the needs of all women and the practical needs of caring for your new baby. We will review these temporary restrictions regularly in line with national guidance and will ensure that they are lifted as soon as possible.
Induction of labour
Partners can be present at the start of an induction on the maternity ward, for up to 1.5 hours.
Please be assured that this will not impact on your birth partner’s presence during labour and for the birth, unless they are unwell.
At the point you go into active labour, you will be moved to your own room on the Delivery Suite or in one of the Midwifery Led Birth Units and your birth partner will be able to join you.
After the birth of your baby
Your partner may stay on the Delivery Suite or Birth Unit for up to 4 hours until you are transferred to the Maternity Ward (or to home).
When you are ready to be discharged from the Maternity Ward at GRH, your partner will be contacted and advised to pick you up from the maternity back entrance (glass doors). Our ward staff will help you with your belongings and accompany you and your baby down to the maternity back entrance when you are ready to leave.
We understand this is a stressful and anxious time if you are pregnant. We will only make changes to our normal services if we feel they are necessary for the safety of you and your baby, your family and our staff.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that coronavirus poses a greater risk if you are pregnant than it does to other healthy people, but the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have welcomed the government’s precautionary approach which aims to:
- reduce any potential risk to your baby’s growth
- avoid premature birth if you become unwell
National guidance from Public Health England advises anyone who is pregnant to take extra care against the spread of coronavirus, which includes stricter social distancing and working from home where possible.
The maternity team will do all it can to provide information, guidance and support to you and your partner during the birth of your baby.
Changes to midwifery services
We have temporarily suspended our face to face antenatal, hypnobirthing and breastfeeding classes, in line with national advice to limit events with large groups. But you can still access antental and hypnobirthing classes, and infant feeding information online.
If you have upcoming antenatal appointments in the community or at our hospitals, we may contact you to arrange a phone or video appointment if it's suitable.
You will be called before any face-to-face appointments to check you do not have coronavirus symptoms and are still able to attend.
Appointments, scans and labour
You must attend your hospital appointments with no more than 1 person, in order to minimise risks to yourself, your families and staff. This includes:
- ultrasound scans
- glucose tolerance tests (GTT)
- day assessment unit appointments
- antenatal clinic appointments
- induction of labour (your birth partner can join you once you go into active labour)
You should prepare 2 birth partners, so in the event of a birth partner needing to self isolate, you can ask your second birth partner to come with you (as long as they are symptom free).
You will be unable to film or photograph your scan due to national safeguarding measures, but scan photos will be free of charge during the restrictions to our service.
You will be expected to wear a face mask when you attend any scans or outpatient appointments. You will not need to wear a mask in labour.
If your birth partner is from the same household, they do not need to wear a mask in the labour room, but they will need to wear one if they:
- walk down hospital corridors
- use facilities outside your room
- exit the ward for any reason on any ward areas
Our midwifery team still supports home birth services, as long as you and other members of your household are not experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.
If you have a caesarean birth, a staff member will be allocated to support you. Please follow their instructions carefully and speak to them if you have any questions.
To allow the clinical staff to do their job, it's very important that partners do not move around the operating theatre as they risk spreading infection.
We will do everything we can to enable your birth partner to be present during your birth. However, if there is a safety concern, we may ask that partners are not present in the operating theatre. If this is the case, the team will discuss this with you and explain their reasons unless it's an emergency.
Please be aware that operating theatre staff will be wearing personal protective equipment, like masks, and it may be more difficult for them to communicate with you.
Restrictions for birth partners
In line with national guidance, we have taken the difficult decision to impose certain restrictions for birth partners attending our maternity wards and birth units.
This does not affect your labour or birth, but it does affect:
- the period before your birth
- the period after your birth
These temporary measures apply to our GRH Women's Centre and all of our birth units, where partners are restricted to supporting you:
- during labour
- during birth
- in the immediate postnatal period, for up to 4 hours following birth
This decision has been taken to allow us to maintain social distancing on maternity wards where there are rooms with bays, which means there are four mums, four babies and four partners or spouses in the room, increasing risk; once you are in labour, you are in a private room, so the restrictions do not apply to this aspect of your labour and birth on the labour ward. Birth partners will no longer be able to stay overnight on our maternity wards.
When you're ready to leave the maternity ward at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, we will contact your birth partner to pick you up from the maternity back entrance (glass doors). Our ward staff will help you with your belongings and accompany you and your baby down to the maternity back entrance.
You should call the maternity advice line on 0300 422 5541 if you have any concerns about any aspect of your pregnancy.
Advice for partners
During the coronavirus response, all hospitals are restricting visitors but there are exceptions for birthing partners during active labour and birth.
Birth partners should be aware of the strict infection control procedures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other pregnant women and their babies, as well as other people within the hospital and the maternity staff:
wash your hands regularly with soap and water
use hand sanitiser gel in clinical areas when it's available
cover your mouth with a tissue if you need to sneeze or cough, and immediately put the used tissue in the bin
stay in the birth room with your partner and use the bell if you need assistance
wear personal protective equipment as requested by hospital staff
do not come to the hospital if you have any symptoms of coronavirus
do not leave the birth room or walk around the hospital unaccompanied
We have closed visiting to our maternity wards during the coronavirus response, with the following exceptions:
- 1 person may attend scan appointments with the mother from mid-July
- 1 person will be able to accompany women in labour (please be aware that they may be asked to leave the area if additional healthcare staff are needed to assist with the birth)
- 1 partner may be present at the start of an induction on the maternity ward for one and a half hours
- after birth, 1 visitor is permitted to visit for 1 hour per day
To help prevent the spread of coronavirus to women, their babies and healthcare staff, it is very important that you do not attend the maternity units if you have any symptoms of coronavirus or have had any in the previous 7 days.
Once you are home with your baby, we will call you to check that you are not experiencing coronavirus symptoms before we visit.
We may arrange phone or video check ups where it's suitable.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, we advise that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk.
However, you should take the following precautions:
- wash your hands before you touch your baby, your breast pump or any bottles
- avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while you breastfeed
- clean your breast pump after every use
- wear a face mask while you breastfeed, if you have one
Whatever method of feeding, consider asking someone who is well to feed your baby. If you are breastfeeding, you can express your milk so someone else can bottle feed.