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 any 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.
Being in an at-risk group
The risk to pregnant women and newborn babies following COVID-19 infection is generally low. However, pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID-19 infection if they:
- have underlying health conditions (for example diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma)
- are overweight
- are of Black and Asian Minority Ethnic background
- are aged 35 years or over.
If you’re pregnant and get COVID-19 with symptoms, it is two to three times more likely that your baby will be born prematurely.
Therefore it’s recommended that you take extra care and ensure you are following physical distancing guidelines at all times. You should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with your GP, midwife, or other clinician before you have the vaccine. You can find out more about the pregnancy and the coronavirus vaccine here.
Should I attend my antenatal and postnatal appointments?
Yes – It's really important that you keep going to your appointments when you're well. Some appointments might be by Near Me videocall. Attending 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.
Group antenatal classes are now restarting, with physical distancing in place. Please speak to your midwife to find out what's available in your area. You can also access online antenatal classes (using the access code TARTAN) and you can discuss the content with your midwife at your next appointment.
Can someone come with me to my appointments?
If you live in an area in level 0-1, you can have one supportive person to accompany you to all your appointments (this could be the baby's father, a partner, family member or friend). You may also be able to bring an additional visitor, for example, your 'back up' birthing partner or a child.
For areas in level 2, one supportive person can accompany you to all appointments.
For areas in levels 3 and 4, one supportive person can accompany you to the booking scan, 20 week scan and any emergency appointments. Arrangements are subject to local risk assessments and physical distancing, provided that person is not ill or showing any symptoms of coronavirus. Face masks and physical distancing will be required for both yourself and your supportive person during all hospital visits. Smaller waiting areas may have further restrictions.
If you have older children and you need to arrange childcare for them, our page on childcare explains your options.
If you need additional support, for example, from a carer, advocate or translator, or in the case of a minor, a parent, they can come along as well as the person you’ve chosen to support you.
Are there any procedures for going to the maternity unit?
When you, your birth partner or key visitor are attending the maternity unit for appointments or when your baby is due, you should all wear face coverings, similar to those that are compulsory in shops and on public transport, if you can't maintain a 2 metre distance from other people. Everyone must also stick to strict hand and respiratory hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, or using alcohol hand gel, before entering and leaving the unit or ward and covering your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when sneezing, coughing, wiping or blowing your nose. Tissues should be disposed of immediately in the bin and hand hygiene performed immediately afterwards. You can check the guidance for hospital visiting here.
You should maintain physical distancing and shouldn’t visit other patients or other clinical areas while you’re there.
Should I go to work?
If you’re pregnant and you can work from home, you should do so. If you can’t work from home, talk to your line manager or HR team about how you can modify what you do so you can minimise the amount of people you come into contact with. If you work in a public-facing role, your employer should carry out a risk assessment and you should only carry on working if the risk assessment supports this.
If you’re in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks’ pregnant), or have an underlying health condition (such as heart or lung disease) you should work from home where possible, avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, and try to socialise with as few people as possible.
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 10 days. Everyone in your household must also isolate for 10 days. Call your midwife to let them know, and book a test online on the NHS Inform website. If you can’t book online, you can call 0800 028 2816. Our page on staying safe during coronavirus has more information.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus and/or are self-isolating please contact your midwife 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.
Can I have visitors in hospital?
After your baby's born, you and your baby will be moved to a ward. Your birth partner may be able to visit you on the post natal ward with some time restrictions to support physical distancing. If you live in an area in level 0-1, two additional designated visitors can also visit. If you live in an area in level 2, one additional designated visitor can visit. All arrangements are subject to local risk assessments and physical distancing, and visitors can only come along provided they are not unwell or have any symptoms of coronavirus. Please speak to your midwife to see the guidelines in your local area.
Whilst we understand that this may be difficult, it’s essential that we maintain physical distancing and limit the number of visitors to hospitals during this time to protect other pregnant women, their babies, and staff.
Can I have a home birth?
During this pandemic, some birth choices such as the homebirth service were unavailable. However, these restrictions are now changing and all Health Boards should be able to provide all choices to women, including home births. Speak to your midwife or maternity team, who will provide you with up to date information on your options in your area.
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.
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.
Registering the birth and claiming child benefit
Birth registration has now resumed in Scotland, after being put on hold due to coronavirus. You can find out more about this on the National Records of Scotland 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.
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.