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Alert Coronavirus / COVID-19

If you have a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, do not come to our hospitals. Follow the national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please find information on our services and visiting restrictions in our COVID-19 section.

Patients and visitors must wear a face covering in our hospitals.

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COVID-19 and pregnancy care

Like all areas of NHS care, our Maternity Services are affected by the pandemic. We would like to answer your questions about arrangements we have made to ensure that you continue to be supported and cared for safely through pregnancy, birth and the period afterwards.

Read this feedback from 21 April 2020

July 2021 - COVID-19 update


You may have your birth partner with you for all elements of maternity care:

  • all scans
  • antenatal appointments
  • postnatal appointments
  • antenatal assessments
  • labour assessments
  • labour and birth.

From Monday 19 July 2021, visiting slots are available between 8am and 8pm, with the following conditions:

  • only the birth partner may visit - no children, please
  • you and your birth partner carry out a lateral flow test before attending any OUH site (see below for details)
  • they must follow current guidance on social interaction outside hospital
  • they must not have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • they attend for booked slots only (with exceptions for labour)
  • they wash/sanitise their hands, keep a safe distance from other people and wear a face covering in our hospital buildings.

Thank you so much for helping us stay safe.

Antenatal care

How will my antenatal appointments change?

Maternity care is essential for a safe pregnancy. Your local community midwifery team will still care for you, but some of your appointments will be via video or telephone, rather than face to face with the midwife.

Please make sure we have the most up-to-date telephone number for you.

You may also have some antenatal appointments at the local community hubs or local hospitals, rather than your GP surgery or home.

During appointments, we will ask you a number of questions to ensure that you and your baby remain safe. If further care is required, for example if we need to refer you to an obstetrician, we will arrange this.

Antenatal care schedules

Will I still be able to have Down's Syndrome screening?

Yes, but this has changed. We may not be able to offer the nuchal scan / combined test, but you can still have the quadruple ('Quad') test for Down's Syndrome screening at your 16 week appointment.

May I film / Facetime during my scan?

Unfortunately, as your scan is a clinical procedure, filming and/or telephone calls are not permitted. You will be able to take home 'still' photos from your scan to share with your family.

I am at risk of developing diabetes. Will I still be tested for this?

Yes. In line with national recommendations, we are moving from doing a 'glucose tolerance test' which would normally take two hours to do, to doing a shorter blood test that will be done at your booking appointment and again at 28 weeks by your community midwife.

My pregnancy last time was 'high-risk'- will I see a doctor this time?

If you need hospital-based antenatal care, we will still refer you to a Consultant Obstetrician. The plan of care they put in place may involve some virtual appointments. If your health problem relates to high blood pressure or diabetes, we may provide you with blood pressure monitors, urine testing or blood glucose monitoring kits.

What if I think there's a problem with me or my baby?

If you are worried or require advice, contact your community midwife or the Maternity Assessment Unit.

24-hour Community Support Line: 01491 826 037

What if I am unwell or self-isolating because someone at home is unwell?

If you have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection and are due to have a routine appointment, you should contact your community midwife before attending the appointment. We will rebook your appointment for when your self-isolation ends if appropriate and safe to do so.

Please do not go to your GP surgery or community hub during this period of isolation; they will have to send you away again.

If you have an urgent hospital appointment or an urgent scan, let your community midwife know and contact us

John Radcliffe Hospital clinic appointment: 01865 221645

John Radcliffe Hospital scan:

Horton General Hospital: 01295 229464

Explain you have an urgent appointment. One of us will advise whether or not you should come to hospital or if the appointment can be arranged for another day.

Is there a virtual tour or more information on the Maternity Units?

Although we are currently unable to offer actual tours of our units, there are some good videos on this website about home birth and births in midwifery-led units, as well as what is involved with an anaesthetic procedure for a caesarean section:

We are looking at ways to facilitate a virtual antenatal class and will post further information when available. Follow the Oxfordshire Maternity Voices Partnership Facebook page where you can access 'Ask the Midwife' sessions.

Can I still plan for a home birth or birth on a midwifery-led unit if I am under midwifery-led care?

Yes, at present, all birth options remain open. However, if you are confirmed coronavirus-positive, symptomatic or self-isolating because of a family member with symptoms, then a home birth or midwifery-led birth would not be suitable or recommended.

From Monday 28 June 2021, if you are having a home birth, you can have two birth partners present provided they follow guidance around lateral flow testing, social distancing, wearing face coverings and good hand hygiene.

We will continue to review birthplace options regularly in line with staffing and national guidance to ensure safe care.

I would like a waterbirth - is this still possible?

Yes, a waterbirth is possible if you and your baby are well and there have been no issues in your pregnancy. During the coronavirus pandemic, midwives attending you will be wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) including gloves and aprons / gowns and eye protection. This is the same arrangement for women not having a waterbirth.

If you have confirmed coronavirus, are symptomatic of coronavirus or self-isolating because of a family member due to the increased risk of transmission, waterbirth should be avoided.


I'm having a planned Caesarean section, do I need to have a COVID-19 test?

We have a special theatre team responsible for those who are known to be COVID-19 negative. The reason why we have this is to enable staff to work in a clinically secure environment, not only to protect them, but also to make sure that by keeping them well we can provide the care you need when you need it.

We strongly recommend that you have a COVID-19 test three days before your Caesarean section and that you isolate from the time that the test is taken. We can then make sure you are looked after by the right theatre team.

If we do not know your COVID-19 status, we will have to treat you as if you are COVID-19 positive. This means that we will need to use our emergency theatres and staff will need to use additional extra personal protective equipment. This can also lead to a potential delay in your operation, is likely to take longer and limits the number of cases we can perform each day.

Why are you swabbing everyone on admission?

In order to keep you and your baby safe, we are now testing everyone who needs to be admitted to our maternity wards overnight.

This applies whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

Knowing whether someone has a negative or positive test helps the midwives and doctors plan the best care for you and your baby. This includes making sure that you and your baby are placed in the most appropriate area for your care, and minimising any delays to your care.

If we do not know your COVID-19 status, in an emergency we will have to treat the situation as if you are COVID-19 positive. This will include the use of extra personal protective equipment (PPE) which can cause a small delay in providing care.

It is currently expected that a few people will have a positive result without having any symptoms of COVID-19 (about 1-2 percent) but knowing your status will help us to help you keep your family and friends as safe as possible, and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.


Can my designated visitor bring a child with them if I'm on an inpatient ward?

Sorry, no. Children are not permitted in the Women's Centre - this applies to all appointments including scans.

Do I need to test myself before coming to my appointment?

Yes, you do - as well as any visitor you have. Please see lateral flow tests for details.

What about during labour / Caesarean birth?

Currently you may only have just one birth partner with you while you are in labour or during the Caesarean section. This is because in labour you will be in a single room where social distancing can be effectively practised.

If your birth partner has symptoms of coronavirus, unfortunately, we cannot allow them into hospital due to the potential spread of the virus, so it's a good idea to have a 'back-up' birth partner in case this happens.

If you require a Caesarean, your partner will be with you already on the labour ward and can accompany you to theatre.

If you require a general anaesthetic for your Caesarean section, your partner won't be able to come into the operating room but they will be able to wait in a room nearby.

We will bring the baby to them shortly after the birth and make sure they are kept up-to-date with what is happening. (This practice follows normal care guidance and has not changed due to coronavirus.)

When I think I'm in labour, will my partner be able to stay and support me?

If you are attending hospital or a midwifery-led unit and you and the midwife you have contacted by telephone think you are probably in labour, you may be accompanied by your partner while the appropriate assessments are completed.

If you are found to be in early labour / 'latent phase' and all is well, you may choose to go home together.

If the midwife confirms that you are in 'established' labour, your partner will be encouraged to stay and support you during the labour and birth. Your partner may then stay with you until after the birth of your baby.

If you are admitted into hospital to the Antenatal Ward for observation during the early stages of labour, this would be without your partner until labour is established and they are encouraged to join you on the labour ward.

Symptoms / self-isolation

What if I have coronavirus symptoms or am self-isolating when I go into labour? How will this affect my birth choices?

We would recommend that you have your baby in hospital as current guidance is that your baby's heartrate should be monitored closely during labour using continuous heart rate monitoring. You can access 'wireless' monitoring on our Delivery Suite to enable you to still move easily in the room.

There is currently no evidence to suggest you would be safer having a Caesarean birth if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus, so your birth choices should be respected and followed as closely as possible based on your wishes.

However, if your breathing (respiratory condition) suggests that your baby needs to be born urgently, a Caesarean birth may be recommended.

It is not recommended that you give birth in a birthing pool in hospital if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus, as there is a possible risk that the infection could pass to the baby. It may also be more difficult for healthcare staff to use adequate protection equipment during a water birth.

There is no evidence that if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus you cannot have an epidural or a spinal block. You can also safely use Entonox (gas and air) in labour too.

Further information, including information on skin-to-skin and breastfeeding, can be found here:

Information for all pregnant women about childbirth choices and birth partners during the coronavirus pandemic

I have been given an induction date. What if I have coronavirus or am self-isolating because we think someone at home has the virus?

The Induction of Labour Midwife will call you the day before your planned induction of labour date, and ask you some questions about your health.

If you have coronavirus, symptoms suggestive of coronavirus or are self-isolating due to someone in your household having symptoms, we may need to delay your induction of labour, if it is safe for you and your baby to do so. We will decide after careful review of your circumstances and discussion with an obstetrician.

Please do not come to hospital without discussing your situation first with the induction of labour midwife.

I am scheduled for an induction of labour or Caesarean section, and I have been told that I need to isolate along with my birth partner - is this the case?

Planned Caesarean birth

It is important that you take very careful measures to reduce your risk of COVID-19 prior to a planned Caesarean birth.

We ask that you and your birth partner follow comprehensive social distancing and hand hygiene measures for 14 days before admission (see Government advice on social distancing).

We will arrange for you to have a test for SARS-CoV-2 no more than three days before admission, and we will ensure the results are available before you come in to give birth to your baby. You should self-isolate from the day of the test until admission.

In addition, your birth partner must self-isolate from the day of the test until admission.

You may need help from a friend or family member to enable your children to continue to go to school or nursery during this time.

If you intend to have a birth partner from another household, they must also isolate for 72 hours.

This also applies if you or your birth partner is a 'key worker'.

Your Caesarean birth may be re-scheduled if it is safe to do so and:

  • you test positive for SARS-CoV-2
  • you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • you are not clinically well enough
  • you need to self-isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19 (for example, as identified by the NHS Test and Trace system).

Induction of labour

If you require an induction of labour, we ask that you and your birth partner follow comprehensive social distancing and hand hygiene measures for seven days before admission (see Government advice on social distancing).

We will arrange a COVID-19 swab on your first visit - usually this is one day before your planned admission date.

Postnatal care

What can I expect from my postnatal care?

If you are discharged after giving birth in hospital, a midwifery-led unit or at home within 72 hours of the birth you will receive a face to face appointment on day one of being discharged (the next day after discharge).

If you are discharged after giving birth in hospital, a midwifery-led unit or at home 72 hours or more after birth you will receive a telephone consultation. The answers you give will help the midwife decide whether or not they need to see you in person on that day.

A subsequent face to face visit will be arranged depending on how you are, and how many days postnatal.

Postnatal care schedule

If you are at home, a midwife will see you on day five to check on your wellbeing, and to complete your baby's newborn screening, feeding assessment and weight check. If all is well, we will transfer your care to the Health Visitors (this normally happens around day 10).

If you need to contact a midwife, there is a 24-hour community support line: 01491 826037

Breastfeeding support is available at:

Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support

La Leche League Oxfordshire


I feel really anxious about what I am seeing in the news, and about the future. It's really getting me stressed. What can I do about this?

It is completely understandable to be worried. With the uncertainty surrounding the effects of coronavirus in pregnancy and the practicalities of living in a pandemic, it would be unusual not to find this stressful.

This infection seems to be well-tolerated by most adults of working age, but as a new disease there is unavoidable uncertainty around it. This means the way we should manage stress and anxiety is to not focus on removing the anxiety completely, as that would be nearly impossible.

The focus should be finding ways to help you accept the uncertainty of this situation - remember, it is the pursuit of certainty that drives anxiety as much as the issue itself.

Achieving this acceptance relies on developing positive coping mechanisms. Which ones are effective depends on the individual; for example, music, exercise, art or meditation. Avoid (or seek help in addressing) more harmful coping mechanisms like drinking and smoking.

This is rarely easy to achieve, especially in a time of social distancing.

There are, however, lots of self-help aids available online.

I had postnatal depression after my last baby. With all this stress I am worried it might happen again. Where can I get help for this?

Severe stress can be a risk factor for developing mood or anxiety disorders during pregnancy and postnatally.

If you are concerned that the effects of coronavirus are more than what might normally be expected, it is important to seek an assessment of your mental health. Indicators for this include persistent low mood or anxiety that is difficult to control, dominating your daily life, disabling you in your usual activities, affecting your relationships, or triggering thoughts of self-harm.

If you think this applies to you, you should seek help. Early intervention aids early recovery. Any of your healthcare professionals can help you access further assessment of your needs.

Please also visit 'Mental health'

How can I stay up-to-date?

There are a number of online resources: