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Pregnancy and coronavirus

Being pregnant is an exciting and anxious time for anyone. With the coronavirus pandemic changing how we live our lives this is particularly true at the moment. You may have heard lots about pregnant women being in the vulnerable group when it comes to the virus. You might also be wondering what that means for you and your baby. We’ve got the most up-to-date information to help keep you in the know.

Changes to maternity services

Due to coronavirus there may have been changes to the maternity services provided. The NHS are confident you’ll continue to receive maternity care throughout your pregnancy, but don’t be afraid to raise your worries with your midwife. It’s also important to remember that these changes are to keep you, your baby, and your community safe. Visit NHS Inform to find out more information.

Being in an at-risk group

Along with the elderly and people with serious health problems, as a precaution pregnant women are considered to be in an at-risk group. This doesn’t mean you are more likely to catch it. It also doesn’t mean that you are more likely to become seriously ill if you do. Pregnancy in a small number of women can change how your body handles severe viral infections. Because of this it’s recommended that you take extra care and ensure you are following physical distancing guidelines at all times.

Should I attend my antenatal and postnatal appointments?

Yes - It's really important that you keep going to your appointments when you're well. How you receive some of your care may change, some appointments might be by phone or videocall for example. Your maternity team will explain any changes to you. Going to your appointments will help your maternity team take care of you and your baby.

You should continue to follow health advice during your pregnancy. This includes keeping track of your baby's movements and calling your midwife or maternity unit right away if you're concerned about your physical or mental health or the health of your baby.

It is also important to go to any vaccination appointments during your pregnancy and when your baby arrives.  Immunisation appointments are classed as an important medical reason to leave the house so you are free to attend them as usual.

What if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you have coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature or a new persistent cough or a loss of/change in smell or taste) you need to stay at home for 7 days. Call your midwife to let them know, but you don’t need to contact your GP. If your symptoms worsen or last longer than 7 days call NHS 111. You can leave the house after 7 days if you're improving and you no longer have a temperature. It's okay to leave the house after 7 days, even if you still have a cough.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus and are self-isolating please contact your midwife or antenatal clinic and ask for advice on going to your routine appointments. Don't reduce your number of visits without speaking with your maternity team first.

Looking after yourself

It’s okay to feel anxious about what’s going on. These are uncertain times and it’s perfectly natural to be worried. But remember you’re not alone, and that by following the most up-to-date advice can help you and your baby stay safe. We’ve put together some advice on looking after your mental health while you’re at home.

Giving birth

It’s okay if you are worried about going to hospital at the moment. Maternity services are a vital part of the NHS and maternity staff are there to keep you safe and comfortable during birth. You can have a birth partner present with you during labour and birth but if your birth partner has symptoms of coronavirus, they will not be allowed to go into the maternity suite. This is to safeguard the health of the woman and the maternity staff supporting you. Speak to your midwife if you have any worries.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has some more information on their website.

Taking your baby home

If you and your baby are well you’ll be able to go home from the hospital as soon as possible. Before you’re discharged, the maternity team will discuss your postnatal care with you. Your midwife, health visitor and family nurse will support you at home, so you’ll have plenty of help.

We know that you'll want family and friends to meet your new baby but it's recommended you continue to follow government advice on self-isolation and physical distancing. This means you shouldn’t meet up with anyone outside your household. Try to think of this positively, as a time for you and your immediate family to bond with your new baby. You can find out more about bonding with your baby here.

If you become unwell in any way once you’re home with your baby, you should contact your GP, midwife or maternity unit.

  • For non-emergency concerns call NHS 24 on 111.
  • If it's an emergency phone 999.

Don’t worry about ‘bothering’ the doctor or midwife – you’re not!

Caring for your new baby

Very few babies have caught coronavirus. However, it is possible for them to catch it, so in order to be safe it’s best to:

  • take your baby home from hospital as soon as it’s safe to do so
  • follow government advice on self-isolation and physical distancing
  • keep your baby away from anybody with a cough, fever or who is ill with other symptoms such as a runny nose, vomiting or diarrhoea.

You can find out more about caring for your new baby during coronavirus at the NHS Inform website. There is more advice on coping with the first few days with your new baby here.

Breastfeeding

We have advice on breastfeeding during coronavirus in case you have any concerns. Breastfeeding your baby is recommended as it helps protect them by building up their immune system. We also have information about coronavirus and formula feeding safely.

Registering the birth and claiming child benefit

At the moment you can’t register the birth of your baby because of coronavirus. You can find out more about this on the MyGov website. However, you can still claim Child Benefit without having to register your child’s birth – simply add a note along with the claim to state you haven’t been able to register your baby’s birth yet. Here’s some wording you can use:

Please note that my child’s birth has not yet been registered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I am aware I can still claim so my child benefit form is attached.

You can find information on claiming child benefit during the coronavirus outbreak on the UK Government website.

Further support

If you have any concerns about the effect of coronavirus on your pregnancy or on your birth plan speak to your midwife. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website has information about coronavirus and pregnancy. There is also lots of information on the NHS Inform website.