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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Maternity

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 and stay at home for seven days.

Important information about our services and restrictions on visiting our hospitals can be found in the COVID-19 section.

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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 a mother who gave birth on 21 April 2020

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How will my antenatal appointments change?

Maternity care is essential to help you have a safe pregnancy. You will still be cared for through your local community midwifery team. Some of your appointments will be conducted virtually, via video or telephone link 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 the GP surgery or at home. During appointments, you will be asked a number of questions to ensure that you and your baby remain safe. If further care is required, for example if you need to be referred to an obstetrician, this will be arranged.

Antenatal care schedules

Who can come with me to my appointments?

If you are coming to see a midwife or doctor, we ask that you attend your appointment alone. Please ask your partner / family member to stay outside. This is to reduce the spread of coronavirus and to protect you, your baby, your family and our staff. This also applies to scan appointments.

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.

How will my scans be affected by new arrangements?

You will still have your dating, 20 week / anomaly and growth scans as usual. Routine 36 week growth scan appointments have been reinstated. As with antenatal clinic appointments, we ask you to attend alone.

Will I be able to film or Facetime during my scan as my partner is now not allowed to come?

Unfortunately, as your scan is a clinical procedure, filming and/or telephone calls are not permitted. You will be able to take home complimentary 'still' photos from your scan to share with your partner and family. Please note: we do not write down the fetal sex.

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: maternity.ultrasound@ouh.nhs.uk

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.

We will continue to review birthplace options regularly in line with staffing and national guidance to ensure safe care. Unfortunately we cannot currently offer birth at Wantage Maternity Unit, but our midwives there are still providing pregnancy and postnatal care. Women who had chosen to give birth at Wantage can choose another of our midwifery-led units or give birth at home.

Is it correct that there is no visiting in Maternity, other than when I'm in labour or during 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.

Unfortunately, visitors (including partners and / or family) cannot visit you on the antenatal or postnatal wards because we cannot guarantee adequate social distancing.

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 have to drop me off and wait for confirmation of my labour before being able to stay and support me?

If you are attending hospital or a midwifery-led unit in possible labour, we ask that you attend the unit initially on your own until all the appropriate assessments have been 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 come in and support you during the labour and birth. Your partner will then stay with you until the birth of your baby.

If you come into hospital to the Antenatal Ward for observation during the early stages of labour, this would be without your partner.

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.

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 cannot give birth vaginally or that 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 women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus cannot have an epidural or a spinal block. You can also safely use Entonox (gas and air) in labour too.

Further information for pregnant women with coronavirus infection can be found here including information on skin-to-skin and breastfeeding:

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?

If you require an induction of labour or caesarean section, you and all members of your household must isolate within your home for seven days prior to the scheduled date.

If you intend to have a birth partner from another household, they must also isolate for seven days. This includes not visiting any shops during this time.

If your birth partner is a 'key worker' and unable to isolate we ask that they wear the appropriate PPE and minimise exposure where possible.

What can I expect from my postnatal care?

All mothers and babies who are discharged from hospital, MLU or home birth within 72 hours of birth will receive a face to face appointment on day one of being discharged from the hospital (the next day after discharge).

Mothers and babies discharged from hospital, MLU or home birth 72 hours or more after birth will receive a telephone consultation. The answers given will help the midwife decide whether or not they need to see them in person on that day.

A subsequent face to face visit will be arranged depending on how the mother and baby 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.

How can I stay up-to-date?

There are a number of online resources: