NUH Maternity COVID19 FAQ’s
In order to support you with the most common questions, we would like to share some answers and give you some further information to reassure you.
We know how upsetting the restricted visiting rules are within maternity - but these are being implemented Trust wide and nationally in order to further reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect you, your baby, your family and our staff.
Pregnancy and Coronavirus
We have created a FAQ document about wearing face masks in hospital and information on who needs to wear them and when. You can find the document here
Maternity COVID19 FAQ’s
Should I still attend my antenatal appointments in community?
Maternity care is essential and you should still continue to attend all antenatal appointments unless you have been informed otherwise. You should attend by yourself, but should not attend if you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID19. In this case you should contact your community midwife for further advice.
Will my hospital appointments still go ahead, including my scans?
Your maternity care is essential to prevent harm to you and your baby. You should still attend hospital appointments and scans by yourself unless you have been advised otherwise. Your partner may join you at your 12 week scan, however we ask that they wait in the car until you are called in for your scan, to limit the amount of people in our waiting areas. Some growth scan appointments will be cancelled in line with national guidance. In most circumstances the Doctors/Midwives will be able to be offer you telephone consultations to reduce your visits to the hospital – they will let you know if this is the case. Please make sure we have the up to date telephone number for you.
If you do attend a hospital appointment/scan please be reassured that measures have been taken to support social distancing. There is hand gel available for you to use and the seats in waiting areas have been placed further apart. We ask that you please wear a mask when attending your appointments.
Will I be able to film or facetime during my scan as my partner now is not allowed to come?
Unfortunately, as your scan is a clinical diagnostic procedure filming and/or telephone calls are not permitted. You will be able to take home complimentary still digital pictures from your scan to share with your partner. Whilst the sonography team are happy to try and see the sex of your baby during the anomaly scan, the time of the scan cannot be extended to do so and will only be revealed verbally to the woman. The sex of the baby will not be written down.
As all antenatal classes have been cancelled, is there a virtual tour or more information on the Maternity Units?
We are now offering regular online antenatal classes, alongside our physiotherapists which will be delivered by Microsoft Teams. To book one of our classes and for more information visit our website www.nuh.nhs.uk/maternity where you can also find some short educational videos. Alternatively you can contact our parent education team on 0115 969 1169 ext. 55178, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
On the home page of our website there is a video under the heading ‘about our maternity service’ which will give you some more information and also shows images of some of the ward areas and Labour Ward rooms.
If you scroll down on the home page to ‘find us’ there are two further videos showing the entrances and access to City maternity unit, and QMC.
We have produced 10 short videos which are available on our social media sites with videos for the antenatal, labour and postnatal period – these include videos on active birth, latent phase of labour and what to expect at home. For those that don’t use social media, our videos are also available on a private YouTube which you may access using the QR code below:
I understand there is no visiting within maternity other than when I’m in labour or during a caesarean birth –is this correct?
We have now lifted some of our visiting restrictions to include visiting on our ward, at present this is for one nominated partner only, unfortunately they will not be able to swap with other people, and we ask that you do not bring children to the ward. Our visiting times will be in two sessions, where you will be allocated one visiting time each day – this will be based on your bed number. The time slots are: AM 10:00-12:30 and PM 14:00-15:30
Currently, in order to reduce the spread of COVID19 you may only have one birth partner with you whilst you are in labour. This is because in labour you will be in a private room where social distancing can be effectively practiced.
This time includes whilst you are having contractions, giving birth and the initial postnatal period after your baby is born. Partners will be supported to stay with you for up to 2 hours upon transfer to the ward following birth.
If you require a caesarean birth in labour – your partner will already be with you on labour ward and can continue to accompany you to theatre for your caesarean birth.
If your partner has symptoms of COVID19 or is self-isolating they should not attend your birth. You may bring a different birth partner.
If you have symptoms of COVID during labour your partner can attend if they are well. However they may not be able to accompany you to theatre.
If you require a general anaesthetic for your caesarean birth your partner cannot accompany you in theatre (this is the same as outside of COVID19 restrictions).
When I think I’m in labour will my partner have to drop me off and wait for confirmation of my labour before being able to stay and support me?
If you are attending in suspected labour you will be seen on Labour Ward where you are assessed in a single room and social distancing can be practiced therefore your partner can be with you. If you are found to be in early labour/latent phase you may choose to go home together, or stay on the antenatal ward for observation – but this would be without your partner if its outside of our visiting sessions.
If your labour is confirmed as established on arrival, or once you return from home/the antenatal ward in established labour your partner can be with you until the birth of your baby and for a period of time after birth.
How long will my birth partner be able to stay with me after birth?
Your partner can stay for the initial postnatal period where you can both have skin-to-skin with the baby, feeding can be initiated and your baby is weighed and checked. This is normally a couple of hours.
If you and your baby are well following a straightforward birth you may choose to go home from labour ward, where your partner would still be with you.
If for any reason you need or choose to be transferred to the postnatal ward your partner will be able to stay for 2 hours following transfer. After this depending on your length of admission they can visit you during your allocated visiting session.
Can my partner visit me on the ward at all?
As of Monday 27th of July 2020 we have lifted some of our visiting restrictions, there will be two visiting sessions each day, and women will be allocated one visiting period each day:
AM 10:30 – 12:00 or PM 14:00 – 15:30
To ensure we are able to maintain social distancing, we must restrict visiting to one nominated partner/supporter only. We regret that you will not be permitted to swap with different people or bring children on to the wards at present.
We ask that visitors with symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) do not attend our unit, and they follow government advice in staying home and self-isolating.
We ask that visitors attending our wards wear a mask at all times, in all areas.
When my partner comes to pick me and my baby up, can they still come to the ward?
The staff will help you with your baby and your belongings to meet your partner outside the ward doors. If you prefer, a car seat can be dropped off at the ward doors by your partner, or you can carry/use a sling to take your baby to your mode of transport where they then should be transferred to a car seat.
I’m booked to have an elective caesarean birth – can my partner still be present and at what point can they attend/will they need to go home?
Your one birth partner can still accompany you for a planned elective caesarean birth. They should drop you off (either on the ward at City hospital, or on labour ward at QMC) whilst your theatre preparations take place. Once you’ve been told it’s your turn to go to theatre your partner can be called to meet you at the theatre doors. They will be with you for the duration of your surgery and birth of your baby. They can stay with you in the theatre recovery area so will have opportunity for skin-to-skin, to see initiation of feeding and the weighing and checking of your baby. Once you and your baby are ready to be transferred to the postnatal ward your partner will be able to stay with you for up to 2 hours.
How will I care for my baby alone on the ward if I can’t move following my caesarean birth?
NUH Maternity want to reassure everyone that staff will be supporting women on the wards with care of their baby. Each woman will have access to a call bell to ask for assistance when unable to care for their baby alone.
How long will I be expected to stay in hospital after a caesarean birth?
This will be dependent on how you and your baby are feeling, but if the surgery is straightforward and there are no concerns with you or your baby you should be able to go home within 1-2 days.
I’m booked for Induction of Labour, at what point can my partner be with me?
If you are being cared for in the induction area, there might be up-to 4 women in a bay. There is hand soap and sanitiser gel available and we would encourage you to wash your hands regularly.
After initially commencing the induction process on the ward, once you have onset of regular contractions, your cervix starts to dilate, your waters break, or we have any concerns about the wellbeing of you or your baby you will be transferred to labour ward. From this point, your birth partner can then be with you for the length of your labour and birth.
If the pessary does not start onset of regular contractions, you will be transferred to labour ward to have your waters ‘broken’ and start a hormone drip– again at this point your partner would be able to come in to labour ward and be with you for the duration of this until birth and the initial postnatal period.
The induction process takes a different amount of time for each woman - there is no way of predicting the time frame unfortunately - however from onset of regular contractions/waters breaking you would be transferred from inductions to labour ward, at which point your partner could join you.
Are you still offering Out-Patient Induction of Labour at this time?
Yes, currently if you meet the criteria out-patient induction can still be offered. This would involve attending the hospital for your induction to be started with a pessary. After initial checks of you and the baby and the pessary being inserted you could then go home again to wait for labour to establish. You would return to hospital when you experience regular contractions, your waters break, you have any concerns about you or your baby or after 24 hours if your labour hasn’t established. Please ask your midwife or the Induction Ward if you want more information about outpatient induction or visit our website www.nuh.nhs.uk/maternity
I’m worried with all the recent changes in information that birthing partners will be stopped completely?
At NUH we have no intention of stopping birth partners from being present in labour - when mothers are in a single room and social distancing can be honoured effectively. However, all decisions the Trust make with regard to this will follow Government Guidance so it is very difficult for us to predict how these will escalate. We do however, understand the importance of a birth partner being present during labour and birth and will implement as many measures as possible to keep this a safe option during the pandemic. We regret that we are unable to accept a second birth partner at present, as this would not allow us to practice safe social distancing.
I’m low-risk and was booked to have my baby on the Sanctuary Birth Centre/Home birth - I understand these services are not available during COVID19. What options do I have for care on Labour Ward?
Our Sanctuary Birth Centre has now partially reopened – we are have opened two sanctuary rooms each at QMC and City which include birth pools. In the unlikely event that both rooms are in use, Midwifery-led care is provided on labour ward, so you will still be cared for in the same way. Midwives will encourage you to adopt your birth plan as much as possible, encouraging low-level lighting, the use of aromatherapy, upright/active birth positions. There are birthing balls, stools, mats and bean bags for you to use should you choose, please just ask at the time. If you would like to use a birthing pool for your labour - this is still an option. There is one birthing pool on each site (one at City, one at QMC) on the main labour ward. Please let your midwife know if you would like to use this at the time of your labour. The birthing pools cannot be pre booked, but will be offered on a first come first serve basis. Sometimes the pool might not be available at the time of your admission, but may become available during your labour – at which point you would be able to move rooms should you still wish. If you are occupying a pool room and no longer wish to use these facilities, you might be asked to move to another room in order to allow someone else to use it.
NUH Maternity are pleased to be able to offer our home birth service again on a case by case basis – if you were booked for a home birth please contact your community midwife for more information.
As everyone is practicing social distancing, what do I do for childcare options when I’m in labour – are there childcare facilities available for my older child?
There are no childcare facilities within our Maternity units. As labour is classed as an exceptional circumstance/medical care it is thought childcare during labour can be arranged with a family member or friend who is in a ‘low-risk’ category. If this is not something you feel you can do, your partner would have to remain at home for childcare and an alternate birth partner could be used in this case. Again, this birth partner must be symptom-free in order to attend our unit.
What are the symptoms of COVID19?
Public Health England (PHE, 2020) lists the most common symptoms of COVID19 as a new persistent cough, a fever and/or a loss or change to your sense of taste and smell.
If you or anyone in your household has these symptoms you should not attend our Maternity Unit. You should contact the Maternity Unit where you are booked for more information and should follow the Government Guidance on self-isolation.
If your birth partner has symptoms of COVID19 they should not attend with you in labour – in this instance you can attend with an alternative birth partner.
What if I have symptoms of COVID19 but think I’m in labour?
You should phone your Maternity Unit as normal, they will advise you of when you need to attend in labour and you will be cared for in a separate, isolation area. You will still be cared for by a Midwife but this Midwife will not care for anyone else in labour on this shift and will be wearing appropriate personal protection equipment to prevent spread of infection.
Here at NUH Maternity, we understand that this will be an anxious time for those accessing care – but want to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to protect you and your baby. The staff are here to provide care and support both physically and emotionally at this time. We want your journey to parenthood to be as safe and enjoyable as possible given the current circumstances.
These changes are intended to protect women and staff for as long as possible and to slow the spread of the virus. NUH Maternity want to thank you for your patience and support at this time. We hope you understand as national guidance changes, these restrictions may be subject to change and will be reviewed on a regular basis.
NUH Maternity FAQ’s: COVID-19 Testing
We want to make sure you and your baby are well during the Coronavirus pandemic and we are committed to providing safe, kind and personal maternity care. It is important that you have all the information you need to help you to make decisions about your maternity care.
Since the 18th of May 2020 NUH maternity have been offering testing for COVID-19 to all women who are admitted for any reason to the maternity wards. Together with the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Maternity Voices Partnership chair, we have put together these FAQs to answer some of the questions people have raised. Please know that this information is relevant at the time updating this publication 27/07/2020 and we will give an update on our social media pages in case of any changes.
Why do I need a swab test for COVID-19?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a viral infection that has caused a global pandemic. The Government has recommended expanding testing for COVID-19 to people admitted to the hospital. This will help to ensure that we can keep you, your baby, staff and the wider community safe. You may have a positive test result without having symptoms of COVID19, and this may mean we would advise that you should not bring a birth partner with you to hospital, who lives in the same household, not to use the birth pool or have a home birth.
What effect does coronavirus have on pregnant women?
All available evidence suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk of becoming seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop Coronavirus. The large majority of pregnant women experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms. Cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache and loss of sense of smell are other relevant symptoms.
Both the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal college of Obstetricians has reviewed evidence and advise that women of black and ethnic minority (BAME) background are at higher risk of complications of COVID-19, and they are advised to seek help early, if they are concerned about their health. You can get help, either via NHS 111 for COVID-19 concerns or by contacting the hospital maternity services if you have concerns about your pregnancy.
How is the COVID-19 swab test done?
The COVID-19 test includes a sample being taken from the back of your throat and from the inside of your nose, right at the top. This can be uncomfortable, but should be over quickly.
Do I need to have the COVID-19 swab taken?
It is your choice whether to have the COVID-19 swab test or not. It is recommended to help stop transmission of the virus, and to ensure that we can provide the safest possible care for you and your baby. If you have any questions or worries about taking the COVID-19 swab test, please talk to your midwife or doctor. If you decide not to have the swab test, this will not impact on your maternity care. Our staff will continue to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to care for all maternity patients regardless of whether they have had a swab taken, so that all women, their babies, families and staff will be protected from the possible spread of infection.
When will I be offered the COVID-19 swab test?
All pregnant women will be offered the COVID-19 swab at the time of their admission to our hospital.
This includes admission for induction of labour, elective caesarean section, a hospital birth on the labour ward and a stay in hospital during your pregnancy or after birth.
I am booked for an elective Caesarean birth or Induction of Labour – will I need to come into hospital prior to my appointment for a swab?
Currently, the swabs are taken at the time of admission to our hospital; therefore a swab performed in advance is not necessary. We will call you the day before your planned admission date and ask you some questions related to COVID-19 symptoms. Based on your answers to these questions, we will advise you how to proceed.
When will I get the result of my COVID-19 swab test?
Our labs aim to get results back within 24 hours. If you and your baby have already gone home when a positive result is received, we will inform you and advise you of any precautions you need to take. We will not advise you if you have a negative result, as this will not change any previous advice given about your pregnancy/birth. You may also opt-in to have a text message with your result, more information on this can be given at the time of your swab being taken.
I understand the swab results will not come back for around 24 hours; if I attend in labour would I still be able to use the birth pool even though my result is not likely to be available?
If you have no symptoms of COVID-19 you will still be able to use the birth pool for labour and birth, without a swab result being available. Unfortunately, the pool will not be available for those who have symptoms of COVID-19, or those women who have had a positive test returned.
Are you also offering COVID-19 swab tests for my birth partner or other people in my household?
No, following current Government advice the swabs are offered to all inpatient admissions only. NUH are not offering swabs for birth partners/relatives (or other people in your household). You will be able to have a birth partner of your choice during your labour and birth, as long as they do not have symptoms of Coronavirus, are not self-isolating or are otherwise unwell. Any person with symptoms of COVID-19 should not attend to support a woman in labour and should phone NHS 111 for advice regarding self-isolation and available testing. The Royal College of Midwives recommends that you have a ‘standby’ birth partner, just in case the person you wanted is unable to support you.
If my COVID-19 test result is positive during my admission, how will my care change?
Midwives and obstetricians will support you as you plan for your labour and birth. If your result is positive, we will move you to a separate area within the ward to isolate you from any women who do not have COVID-19 or are awaiting test results, to keep them safe. Also, the PPE staff will be wearing alters slightly when you are in labour.
Unfortunately, the birth pool will not be available for those who have had a positive test returned. However, you will still be supported to be mobile, use birthing equipment such as a birthing ball, and birth in a position of your choice. You will still be able to have access to pain relief options, such as gas and air and an epidural.
If you test positive for COVID-19, your birth partner cannot be from the same household as you. You can arrange an alternative birth partner who is symptom-free. If you have tested positive/have symptoms of COVID-19 and require birth in the operating theatres such as a forceps or Caesarean birth, it will not be possible for a birth partner to attend with you in the operating theatres. Our NUH maternity family are proud to be taking care of your family. Our midwives and obstetricians will be there to fully support you throughout your labour and birth.
After your baby is born, you will still be able to have skin-to-skin and hold and care for your baby – it is not recommended for mothers and babies to be unnecessarily separated and you can still breastfeed your baby if this is your chosen feeding method. You will be given advice by the staff caring for you about the signs of an unwell baby, but the evidence suggests the risk of transmission is low.
Everyone matters and the NUH maternity team takes pride in providing you and your baby with safe, kind and individualised care. We will still treat you with respect and dignity and you can still expect us to communicate clearly with you.
Are there plans to offer the COVID-19 antibody test?
NUH are not currently offering antibody testing.
I am booked to have a home birth; will I be offered a swab test for COVID-19?
Currently, the guidance is to offer COVID-19 testing to all hospital admissions, therefore swabs will not be performed on those women having a home birth. The midwives will continue to wear PPE as before. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 we will not be able to offer you a homebirth.
What if I’ve already been discharged home when my positive result comes through?
A member of the maternity team will notify you by phone, and advise what precautions you should take at home.
I have recently had my baby at NUH and have now gone home; will I be offered a test?
We are not currently offering retrospective testing. If you or anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 you should contact NHS 111 for advice and information about available testing.
The NUH service update states that all women regardless of their test status should self-isolate with members of their household for 14 days following the birth of their baby – does this mean we can’t go out at all?
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) (2020) suggest:
“There is no evidence that women who have recently had a baby and are otherwise well are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus or of becoming seriously unwell. A recently pregnant woman’s immune system is regarded as normal unless she has other forms of infection or underlying illness.
You should however remain well-nourished with a balanced diet, take mild exercise as you feel fit and ensure social distancing guidance is followed. Children, including newborns, do not appear to be at high risk of becoming seriously unwell with the virus. However, close observation of hygiene, as always, is important and particularly with family members resident in the house. Anyone who enters the home should take standard hygiene precautions, including washing their hands, and be careful about handling your baby if they have symptoms of any illness including the coronavirus.
It is important that your baby is feeding well and gaining weight, and if you have any concerns, please contact your midwife. Once restrictions are lifted, we would caution against large family gatherings to celebrate your baby’s arrival until more is known about the spread of the virus in the community.
Do not put off seeking medical advice if you have concerns about your baby’s health during the pandemic. Seek medical advice if your baby has a fever, lethargy, irritability, poor feeding or any other symptoms you may have concerns about.”
NUH are therefore amending their previous recommendation, to advise that although self-isolation is not required, social distancing and strict hand hygiene should be followed. The Government advice for self-isolation should be followed for any household with symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result.
NUH maternity will update you if any of the recommendations or testing conditions change alongside Government guidance. For any further questions regarding COVID-19 testing you can email email@example.com – Emails will be responded to within 72 hours and no urgent or clinical enquiries should be sent to this address. If you have any concerns about you or your baby you should contact your midwife or maternity unit directly.