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: 17 September 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.
You should call the maternity advice line on 0300 422 5541 if you have any concerns about any aspect of your pregnancy.
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.
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.
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
From Friday 18 September, you will be able to 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:
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
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.
You will be expected to wear a face mask 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 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
From Friday 18 September 2020, you may have:
- 1 person with you from the induction of labour (for up to 2 hours)
- 1 birth partner and an essential visitor* with you during active labour
*An essential visitor is someone who is required if you have specific need. Talk to your midwife for more information.
Birth partners may be asked to relocate from the birthing room if additional clinical staff need to provide care.
You do not need to wear a face mask during labour, but your birth partners must maintain social distancing at all times. Speak to your midwife for more information.
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.
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
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:
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
From Friday 18 September 2020, your birth partner and 1 nominated visitor from your social bubble can visit you after you have given birth from 1pm to 4pm or 4pm to 7pm.
Visiting times will be allocated by bed number, please contact the midwife in charge for details.
The following visiting restrictions also apply, to reduce the risk of coronavirus:
- no visitors under the age of 16 (including siblings)
- all visitors must wear face masks or coverings, and adhere to social distancing and hygiene advice
- all visitors must follow the safety instructions of the midwife in charge
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.
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.