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 COVID19 and to protect you, your baby, your family and our staff.
Pregnancy and Coronavirus
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. 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.
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?
Please see www.nuh.nhs.uk/maternity for more information, and short videos.
On the home page 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.
There are several tabs down the left side that will give you lots of information about the services we offer and what to expect when you are cared for within NUH Maternity.
I understand there is no visiting within maternity other than when I’m in labour or during a caesarean birth –is this correct?
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.
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 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.
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 it would be at this point that your partner is asked to go home. They would then only be able to return to the ward at the point you are discharged home.
Can my partner visit me on the ward at all?
During the COVID19 restrictions there is no visiting on the wards which is a Trust wide policy. There will be very few exceptional circumstances which should be discussed with the Midwife in Charge at the time.
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 asked to go home – this is normally around 30-60 minutes after reaching recovery.
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 24hours 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.
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?
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.
Although our Sanctuary Birth Centres remain closed, NUH Maternity are now 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 recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature.
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.