Coronavirus, pregnancy and your health at Royal Surrey

Updated 26th July 2021

Thank you for using the maternity services at the Royal Surrey Foundation Trust. Our priority is ensuring that you, your baby and family remain safe and healthy.  Here is an update on the changes we have made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and government announcements.

We would like to reassure you that our maternity service, including our midwifery-led birthing suite and our homebirth service are fully operational. It is important for your safety and your baby’s safety that you continue to access antenatal, birthing and postnatal care. It is important to tell your midwife or maternity team if you have symptoms of coronavirus. You should also ask them for help with any other concerns as you usually would.

Covid-19 Symptoms

The signs of coronavirus according to Public Health England are:

  • High temperature (fever): this means that you feel hot to touch on your chest or back and your temperature is at 37.8 or above.
  • A new continuous cough: Coughing for more than an hour or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you think you may be unwell with Covid-19, please do the following:

  • Arrange a Covid-19 test via  https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
  • Inform your midwife directly or call our 24 hour advice line, Call a Midwife on 0300 123 5473 who will be able to advise you what to do.
  • Call 999 if you are severely unwell or are experiencing shortness of breath.

If you test positive for COVID-19 during your pregnancy but are well enough to stay at home or do not have any symptoms but Royal Surrey did not perform the test, then please let us know by emailing rsch.maternitygovernance@nhs.net  This will help us to make sure that you and your baby are receiving the right care and any necessary follow up.

Testing

In line with the recommendations from NHS England, we would like you and your support person to do the lateral flow test in the 24 hours before routine appointments and to continue to do these twice a week. Tests can be ordered on line through the www.gov.uk website. Results should be uploaded on to the online digital platform.

We are currently offering women and birthing people a Covid-19 test in the following situations:

  • 2-3 days before an elective procedure such as an induction of labour or caesarean section
  • If you are admitted to hospital during your pregnancy
  • When you are admitted to hospital in labour
  • At regular intervals throughout your inpatient stay
  • If you are readmitted to hospital at any point after you have been discharged home having given birth to your baby.

In line with the recommendations from NHS England, we would like you and your support person to do the lateral flow test in the 24 hours before routine appointments and to continue to do these twice a week. Tests can be ordered on line through the www.gov.uk website. Results should be uploaded on to the online digital platform.

Face coverings in maternity

You must wear a surgical facemask when attending any area of the maternity service.  This includes all maternity hubs, hospital clinic areas, scanning rooms, birthing suites and wards. Masks are available at all hospital site and maternity hub entrances. 

We request that masks are worn on the antenatal ward and postnatal ward as much as possible to protect you, other women and our staff. You will not be required to wear a mask in active labour. 

Partners are required to wear a facemask at all times when in any area of the maternity service.  Masks must be worn over your nose and mouth, if you are exempt from wearing a mask you must wear a face visor.

Advice for Ethnic Minorities

Research has found pregnant women from ethinic minorities are more likely than other pregnant women to be admitted to hospital for coronavirus. Pregnant women over the age of 35, those who are obese, and those women who have pre-existing medical problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, also appear to be at higher risk of developing severe illness. 

Women with dark skin or those who always cover their skin when outside may be at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency and are therefore advised to take a daily supplement of vitamin D. This advice also applies to women who have little exposure to sunlight due to shielding or self-isolating. There have been some reports that people with low levels of Vitamin D are at an increased risk of serious respiratory complications if they develop COVID-19. However, there is not enough evidence to show that taking vitamin D prevents COVID-19 infection or is an effective treatment. You can purchase Vitamin D supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets

This video from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists tells you what to do if you feel unwell or have any concerns.

You can also view useful leaflets, translated for non-english speakers here.

If you have questions on how to be safe during your pregnancy speak to your midwife. 

Antenatal appointments

Routine midwifery appointments

All midwifery appointments are now being held face to face. Partners/support people are able to attend your appointment with you or they are welcome to join virtually if they prefer. We continue to have challenges providing social distancing in the waiting areas for some clinics and your support person may be asked to either wait in an alternative waiting area or in their car until you are going in to your appointment with the midwife. In this instance you will need to your call your support person immediately to come inside to avoid clinics running late.

You and your support person will be asked to wear a face covering and observe social distancing guidelines. We also ask that you both undertake a lateral flow Covid-19 test in the 24 hours prior to your appointment. You can obtain lateral flow test kits from visiting www.gov.uk or from your local pharmacy. You should upload your results to the online digital platform and then you and your support person will be asked to provide evidence of your negative result to the midwife when you attend your appointment.

Unfortunately we are not able to support children attending appointments at this time.

Scan appointments

You are welcome to bring your partner or support person with you to any of your scans during pregnancy. Your support person may be asked to wait in an alternative waiting area due to capacity and will be requried to observe social distancing guidelines. Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate children at scan appointments.

We ask that hot drinks are not brought into the department but you are welcome to bring a bottled cold drink. Cold water dispensers are available in the department.

Obstetric/Doctor Appointments

You are welcome to bring your partner/support person to your appointment or they can join virtually should they prefer. You and your support person will be asked to wear a face mask and observe social distancing guidelines. We also ask that you both undertake a lateral flow Covid-19 test in the 24 hours prior to your appointment. You can obtain lateral flow test kits from visiting www.gov.uk or from your local pharmacy. You should upload your results to the online digital platform and then you and your support person will be asked to provide evidence of your negative result to the midwife when you attend your appointment.

Unfortunately we are not able to support children attending appointments at this time.

Coronavirus labour and birthing

If you are in labour, please call 24/7 advice line Call a Midwife on 0300 123 5473.

When you call, please tell our staff if you or anyone in your household has a new continuous cough or high temperature.

We have safe arrangements in place to enable us to see women with potential Coronavirus symptoms separately from those without symptoms. You will be cared for in the maternity unit by a midwife.

We recognise the value of support people in labour and therefore welcome up to two designated support people to accompany you during your labour and birth . We ask that you do not swap these designated people, unless they become unwell themselves and are unable to support you. Should this happen an alternative person is welcome to support you. Please note only one support person will be able to accompany you should you need to have a procedure in theatre.

On admission to the maternity unit your support person will be given a wristband to enable us to identify them throughout your stay. Partners are required to wear masks throughout their visit, even in the side rooms. For the safety of our women and staff, visitors will be asked to leave if they do not wear their masks, or repeatedly remove them or wear them incorrectly.

What happens if you have a positive Covid-19 test ?

If you are in labour, have been admitted and your Covid-19 test is positive your partner/support person will be able to remain for labour and birth providing they have no Covid-19 symptoms. They must wear a face covering at all times on the delivery suite. This is an exception to government legislation of self-isolation as a Covid-19 contact because they are your birth support.  However when they return home after the birth they must self-isolate.

Coronavirus and postnatal care

After giving birth, you could be discharged home from delivery suite or transferred to Shere Ward. Your partner or one support person is able to be with you between the hours of 09:00 and 20:00. They are welcome to come for the whole day or a part of the day but must leave by 8pm.Once partners arrive they are expected to remain by the bedside for the entirety of their stay and not switch with another support person.  Partners are not to use the tea/coffee machines or wander in the corridors.  To maintain the safety of other women and staff we can no longer support partners to have multiple entry and exits to the ward. If staying for the whole day, they may leave the ward between 12– 2pm where they are permitted to leave and return once only. If partners leave again following this time they will not be granted access to come back in. Partners who leave to get refreshments must eat/drink away from the ward. This cannot be supported on the ward due to the need to remove masks

All women will receive a midwife appointment at their local maternity hub on the first day home following discharge.  On day five, you will have an appointment at the hub to see a midwife or maternity support worker depending on your needs.  They will also make a face-to-face appointment for you to see a midwife on day ten.  The location of this appointment will depend on your circumstances.  If you are self-isolating or have Coronavirus symptoms, this appointment will be delayed.

If you are advised to attend the hospital because you or your baby need further care, it is essential that you attend this appointment. You could create further risk if you do not follow midwifery/medical advice.

You are welcome to bring your partner/support person to your postnatal appointment at the maternity hub. They remain more than welcome to join virtually should they prefer. You and your support person will be asked to wear a face covering and observe social distancing guidelines. We also ask that you both undertake a lateral flow Covid-19 test in the 24 hours prior to your appointment. You can obtain lateral flow test kits from visiting www.gov.uk or from your local pharmacy. You should upload your results to the online digital platform and then you and your support person will be asked to provide evidence of your negative result to the midwife when you attend your appointment.

Coronavirus and visiting maternity

Ultrasound scans and antenatal appointments

You are welcome to bring your partner or support person with you to any of your scans during pregnancy. Your support person may be asked to wait in an alternative waiting area so that social distancing guidelines can be observed. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate children at scan appointments. We ask that hot drinks are not brought into the department.  You are welcome to bring a bottled cold drink, cold water dispensers are available in the department.

Please ensure you both wear a mask during your visit.

Birth partners in labour

Two birth partners are welcome to accompany any women while they are on the delivery suite - this is not dependant on stage of labour.

While on the antenatal ward (St Catherine’s) or postnatal ward (Shere), one partner only may visit between 9am – 8pm.

One birth partner is welcome to support you in theatre if a caesarean section is required.

Partners are required to wear masks throughout their visit, even in the side rooms. For the safety of our women and staff, visitors will be asked to leave if they do not wear their masks, or repeatedly remove them or wear them incorrectly.

Coronavirus Testing

We also ask that you and your birthing partner/support person undertake a lateral flow Covid-19 test in the 24 hours prior to attending an appointment. You can obtain lateral flow test kits by visiting www.gov.uk or from your local pharmacy. You should upload your results to the online digital platform and then you and your support person will be asked to provide evidence of your negative result to the midwife when you attend your appointment.

Postnatal Ward visiting

  1. With effect from 17th May one birth partner will be invited to attend Shere Ward from 9am – 8pm. They are welcome to come for the whole day or a part of the day but must leave by 8pm.
  2. Partners attending Shere Ward must be  the same person throughout (no switching over will be supported).
  3. Once partners arrive they are expected to remain by the bedside for the entirety of their stay. Partners are not to use the tea/coffee machines or wander in the corridors.
  4. We can no longer support partners to have multiple entry and exits to the ward. If staying for the whole day, they may leave the ward between 12– 2pm where they are permitted to leave and return once only. If partners leave again following this time they will not be granted access to come back in.
  5. Partners who leave to get refreshments must eat/drink away from the ward. This cannot be supported on the ward due to the need to remove masks. Patients only are permitted to eat/drink on the ward.

Masks

  • It is vital that we keep our patients and staff safe in the current pandemic
  • Masks must be worn at all times
  • Masks must be worn over your nose and mouth
  • If you are exempt from wearing a mask you must wear a face visor

Coronavirus and antenatal classes

Our free antenatal courses are now being taught online. Some of our paid for antenatal courses and workshops are now available in a blended online and face to face format.  Further information can be found on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/royalsurreymaternity and Eventbrite booking page https://www.eventbrite.com/o/royal-surrey-hospital-maternity-unit-18063776463

More information

You can get more advice about the Coronavirus infection and pregnancy from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Health information and advice about Coronavirus

Government response to coronavirus on GOV.UK.

Healthy Surrey Your Pregnancy and COVID-19 FAQs

NHS England and NHS Improvement maternity leaflet - Coronavirus: Planning your birth

NHS England and NHS Improvement maternity leaflet - Coronavirus: Parent information for new born babies