Advice on attending our hospitals if you are pregnant, including who you can bring to appointments and birth units.

Last updated: 4 November 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. 

Information:

You should call the maternity advice line on 0300 422 5541 if you have any concerns about any aspect of your pregnancy.

Reducing risk

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.

Information:

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.

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.

Information:

You will be called before any face-to-face appointments to check you do not have coronavirus symptoms and are still able to attend.

Attending hospital appointments and scans

If you are well, it’s really important that you attend all routine appointments and scans during your pregnancy.

Our infection prevention and control team monitor coronavirus (COVID-19) rates in the county daily, to keep you as safe as possible.

We have also introduced new measures to keep you safe, like access to alcohol hand gel, compulsory face masks, social distancing guidance and increased cleaning of our hospitals.

Information:

If you have any concerns about attending your appointments, please speak to your midwife or healthcare team.

Risks relating to race and ethnicity

Research shows that more than half (56%) of pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

Asian women are 4 times more likely than white women to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 during pregnancy, while Black women are 8 times more likely.

Staff at our hospitals are aware of the increased risk if you are from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background and will prioritise consideration of any worries that you have.

Information:

If you are concerned about your own or your baby's health, such as reduced fetal movements, you should seek advice from your local maternity unit without delay.

Antenatal clinics

You may bring 1 other person with you to specific appointments including:

  • antenatal ultrasound scans
  • early pregnancy appointments
  • unscheduled maternity triage appointments

There are some antenatal appointments where partners cannot attend due to the small size of rooms. Please contact your community midwife regarding attendance of 1 other person at antenatal appointments in GP surgeries.

In order to keep you and other people in our hospitals safe, you should follow these guidelines:

Do

  • follow all instructions given to you by our staff

  • wear a face covering at all times while you're at our hospital

  • wash your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser gel for at least 20 seconds when you enter and leave the hospital or ultrasound scan room

  • stay 2 metres apart from other patients, visitors and staff

  • sit in the social distanced double chairs (they will be marked)

  • switch off your phone or device before you enter the ultrasound scan room

Don't

  • do not bring more than 1 accompanying adult to your scan appointment

  • do not bring children to your scan appointment

  • do not visit the hospital if you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, or symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea

  • do not arrive early (you may be asked to wait outside the hospital until the time of your appointment)

  • do not visit other areas of the hospital, including toilet facilities, unless staff tell you to

We will continue to provide 2 free identical pictures at your request. It may not always be possible to do this if your baby’s position does not allow us to capture a suitable picture.

Face coverings

You will be expected to wear a face covering when you attend any scans or outpatient appointments, but 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 face covering 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

Labour

You may have:

  • 1 person may accompany you during the induction of labour for 2 hours from the start of induction until the start of labour (they may have to leave in between)
  • 1 birth partner with you during active labour

Birth partners may be asked to relocate from the birthing room if additional clinical staff need to provide care.

In special circumstances, a healthcare professional involved in your care may also accompany you while you’re in labour. Speak to your midwife about these arrangements.

Information:

You do not need to wear a face covering during labour, but your birth partners must maintain social distancing at all times. Speak to your midwife for more information.

Home birth

Our midwifery team still supports home birth services, as long as you and other members of your household are not experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.

Caesarean birth

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.

Advice for birth partners

During the coronavirus response, all hospitals are restricting visitors but birth partners can accompany you during:

  • induction of labour
  • active labour
  • after you have given birth (for a maximum of 2 hours each day, by arrangement with the midwife in charge)

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, and other people and staff in the hospital:

Do

  • 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

Don't

  • 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

Visiting

We have closed visiting to our maternity wards during the coronavirus response, with the following exceptions:

  • 1 other person can accompany you during certain antenatal appointments, like scans or maternity triage appointments
  • 1 person may accompany you during the induction of labour for 2 hours from the start of induction until the start of labour (they may have to leave in between)
  • 1 birth partner may accompany you during labour*
  • 1 birth partner can visit you each day after you have given birth, for a maximum of 2 hours by arrangement with the midwife in charge

*In special circumstances, a healthcare professional involved in your care may also accompany you while you’re in labour. Speak to your midwife about these arrangements.

Only a member of your household or support bubble can visit our hospitals.

Information:

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 10 days.

Postnatal care

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.

Parent information for newborn babies

Get ready for a visit from your midwife during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Breastfeeding

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.

BEST CARE FOR EVERYONE