23 April 2020
Pregnant women are being reassured that they will still receive the highest level of care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Although there have been some changes to the Island’s maternity services, midwives will strive to give pregnant women and their partners a positive pregnancy and birth experience.
As part of the changes, expectant mothers are being asked to attend their antenatal appointments and scans on their own, with the option for their partners to join clinic appointments virtually.
Catherine Houlder and Ceri Norman, the community midwifery managers, have put in place a system for both virtual and face-to-face antenatal appointments over the past month. This is to reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus to women, their partners and staff.
Women without coronavirus or symptoms can still have a partner with them during labour, however anyone with the virus or symptoms will have to attend alone as their partner will need to be in self isolation. If women have to attend labour on their own, they are fully supported by a midwife at all times. The midwives have to wear personal protective equipment during labour.
Ms Houlder said: “Despite this uncertain and challenging time, we will strive to give women and their partners a positive pregnancy and birth experience.
“Maternity staff are still here for you. Please contact us on the usual telephone numbers with any concerns or worries about your pregnancy. We will still see you whether you have coronavirus or not.”
What do maternity services look like during the coronavirus pandemic?
Before you attend any appointments, a midwife or a health care support worker will call you and ask if you or your family have any coronavirus symptoms. Depending upon clinical need, your appointment may be deferred.
Some of the antenatal and postnatal appointments are being held virtually at the Bridge Family Health Centre and others at the antenatal clinic in the General Hospital. The appointments are arranged so that as much antenatal care can be given at one consultation in as short a time as possible.
Unfortunately homebirth and waterbirth services have been suspended at this time. However, it is constantly under review.
All midwives and doctors will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves.
Women with coronavirus symptoms are also asked to wear a mask.
It is recommended by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists that all babies of women with coronavirus symptoms are monitored continuously throughout established labour.
Only one named person will be allowed to visit the mother and baby on the maternity ward after they have had their baby. However, in order to protect newborn babies on the ward, this person will not be permitted to attend if they are showing symptoms of coronavirus. Siblings will not be permitted to visit.
Postnatal mothers will still receive care from community midwives and health visitors. We have found that women want to leave hospital soon after they have had their baby. Postnatal care is being provided face-to-face at The Bridge Health Centre and virtually, depending upon requirement.
Support with feeding can be arranged, with frequent visits and telephone support via video call.
Registration of the baby’s birth is carried out remotely within 21 days. Women will not be required to attend the Superintendent Registrar’s office to register the birth. Midwives will provide a copy of the application to register the birth and a letter explaining the process before you leave the hospital.