Changes to maternity services
Your birth supporter can attend all antenatal appointments, including ultrasound scans, and continue to support you during labour and birth. An additional supporter may also be present during labour, while visiting was extended in May 2021
Last updated: 6 August 2021
A birth supporter is 1 person who has been nominated to attend appointments throughout your pregnancy journey. From 24 May 2021, you can also have 1 other person with you during labour and birth.
You may also have 1 person visit you on the maternity ward after you have given birth, from 9am to 9pm and your birth supporter can stay overnight from 9pm to 9am.
For labour and postnatal visiting, birth supporters and visitors will need to complete a rapid swab test (lateral flow test) every day before attending our hospitals.
In order to keep you and other people in our hospitals safe, you must follow these guidelines during appointments, scans and hospital visits:
follow all instructions given to you by our staff
wear a hospital grade face mask 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 an 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 birth supporter to your scan appointment
do not bring children to your appointments
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
All pregnant women will need to have a coronavirus test when they are admitted to our hospitals.
Your care will not be affected if your test is positive, but you must inform your midwife. Find out more about COVID-19 testing for maternity.
COVID tests for birth supporters
Birth supporters should order a rapid swab (lateral flow) test and complete it each day before attending our hospitals (for labour, birth and postnatal visiting). You can order rapid swab tests from the NHS.UK website, or collect up to 7 rapid tests from your local pharmacy or test site.
The rapid swab test is a nasal swab, which provides test results after 30 minutes. Birth supporters will be asked to complete a test when:
- attending labour and birth
- attending induction of labour
- attending a caesarean
- visiting inpatients on the maternity ward
Positive rapid swab test
If your birth supporter receives a positive rapid swab test result, they will need to:
- return home and self-isolate
- book a coronavirus test from a recognised site (via NHS 111)
If your birth supporter’s coronavirus test is negative, we will need to see the SMS or email that confirms the result. This can be the original message or a screenshot.
In the event of a positive coronavirus test, you and your partner should identify a back up birth supporter to attend, who can stay with you if their rapid swab test is negative.
1 birth supporter can attend all routine antenatal appointments with you, including consultant appointments and ultrasound scans.
Please note: as social distancing must be maintained, your birth supporter may not be able to remain in the waiting room with you; they may be asked to wait in another area before being called back at the appointment time
This only applies to hospital premises, and rules at your GP surgery or community settings may vary.
Labour and birth
Your birth supporter and 1 other person can attend our delivery suite or birth centres, and stay during labour and birth.
They must wear a hospital grade face mask and any other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while they are in the hospital and birthing room.
To accompany you, both birth supporters will need to provide evidence of having taken a rapid swab test in the last 24 hours and received a negative result
Induction of labour
Birth supporters can accompany you on admission for your induction and stay throughout your labour, if they have received a negative result from a rapid swab test in the last 24 hours.
Birth supporters are required to wear a mask
You will also need to take a coronavirus test on admission before you are induced.
Birth supporters may accompany you during your admission for caesarean.
The birth supporter can stay with you throughout the procedure if their rapid swab test is negative.
If you have an elective caesarean, you will have your coronavirus test before you’re admitted.
1 person (per bed) can visit the maternity ward between 9am and 9pm, if they can provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test taken in the last 24 hours.
Your partner or other birth supporters will also be able to stay overnight on the maternity ward, from 9pm to 9am if they have negative lateral flow result.
Siblings and children under the age of 16 will not be able to visit.
Birth supporters may be asked to provide evidence of their negative lateral flow test every day they attend the maternity ward.
All visitors must wear a mask at all times.
If birth supporters choose not to have a rapid swab test, we will, on the advice of our infection control team, refuse entry to the maternity ward.
Our midwifery team still supports home birth services, as long as you and other members of your household are not experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.