How will the coronavirus pandemic affect my routine appointments before and after birth?
You will be told about any changes by your local maternity service. Antenatal and postnatal care is essential and you should attend, but try to stick to social distancing measures.
Your local maternity team may reduce routine appointments, provide more home visits or deliver some care and support over the phone or by video to reduce the number of times you need to travel and attend hospital/clinics.
Why are changes to antenatal and postnatal care necessary during the coronavirus pandemic?
We know that it may be a particularly stressful and anxious time if you are pregnant or have recently given birth. Some changes to care allow healthcare professionals to care for you and protect you from coronavirus, while also ensuring we protect NHS staff and services.
These changes will help them to:
- reduce the number of people coming into hospitals where they may come into contact with other people and spread the virus
- ensure staff are not overwhelmed and stretched too far by the additional strain on services. This might be due to staff sickness and self-isolation as well as the higher numbers of patients needing care and overnight hospital stays due to coronavirus.
Who should I contact about my antenatal and postnatal care appointments?
If you have been allocated a local health continuity team or a named community midwife:
Continue to contact your continuity team or community midwife by telephone to discuss any questions or concerns you might have and to check on arrangements for all scheduled and future appointments.
If you have not been allocated a local health continuity team or a named community midwife:
Contact your GP surgery or local maternity unit to be connected to an appropriate continuity team or named community midwife. You can discuss any questions or concerns you might have, and check on any scheduled and future appointments.
Can I still attend my antenatal and postnatal care appointments?
Your antenatal and postnatal appointments are an important part of your maternity care to provide checks and screening on your health and your baby’s health.
A member of the maternity team looking after you may call you before your appointment, or carry out an assessment at entrance of the clinic/hospital, or both, to check whether you have any symptoms of coronavirus, or if you meet the ‘stay at home’ guidance.
If you are advised to attend an appointment by your local maternity team, this is because the need for the appointment (to reduce the risk of complications for you and your baby) is greater than your risk of being exposed to coronavirus.
If you are well, you should be able to attend your appointments. You may be asked to attend alone to protect your household from the risk of coronavirus. You will be told about this by your local maternity service.
If you are asked to attend your antenatal appointments alone, you should be advised where possible to have a discussion with your partner, or other supportive companion, about any questions they would like you to ask your maternity team on their behalf.
If you are currently self-isolating with suspected or confirmed symptoms of coronavirus, and you have an appointment scheduled in the coming days, you should telephone your continuity team or community midwife, or local maternity unit, to let them know.
Your upcoming appointment will be reviewed by the maternity team looking after you and your baby. You will then be advised whether your appointment is urgent and a home appointment is required, or whether your appointment can be safely delayed.
How many antenatal appointments will I have?
You will have at least 6 face-to-face antenatal appointments in total. Where possible, essential scans and tests and routine antenatal care will be offered within a single appointment.
This is to prevent multiple journeys and visits to clinics/hospital, and will involve contact with as few staff as possible to prevent the spread of coronavirus to you, your family and other patients.
This may mean that your initial ‘booking in’ appointment will take place at the same time as your 12-week scan. You should be asked about your mental health at every appointment, whether in person or via phone/video.
In the third trimester, you should be asked about your baby’s movements at every appointment, whether in person or via phone/video. Do not wait until your next appointment to seek advice if you are worried about your baby’s movements. Contact your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you think your baby’s movements have slowed down, stopped or changed.
All pregnant women should be provided with information about group B streptococcus (GBS) in pregnancy and newborn babies.
Sometimes, you may need additional antenatal appointments and medical care. This will depend on your individual medical needs. These appointments may be carried out over the phone or via video, provided a physical examination or test is not required. This will enable partners and other family/household members to join you for support and allow social distancing to protect you and your baby from coronavirus.
This may include:
- appointments with a specialist doctor
- extra blood tests
- support for your mental health
- discussion of plans for birth
- local provision of antenatal/parent education classes, infant feeding support and information on safe sleeping, pelvic floor exercises and birth choices.
Maternity care is still essential during the coronavirus pandemic and services are still running. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy call your GP, midwife, nearest early pregnancy unit or maternity unit as soon as possible.