How does Coronavirus affect my pregnancy, labour and birth?
Updated: 2 days ago
The below information changes all the time so links are included so that you read the latest information from official websites - it is important to ensure you read and follow the latest guidance.
Self-isolation for pregnant women
For latest information on social distancing please go to the UK government publication here.
We are living unprecedented times and the UK government now recommends self-isolation for pregnant women for the next 12 weeks.
What does it actually mean?:
Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.
Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information.
Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
Going into labour
Most hospitals have now put in place restrictions to limit birth partners to 1 or 2 healthy people only. St Georges is an example (only 1 birth partner in labour), so these are some ideas to planned for the unexpected:
Get a birth-buddy as a second option: someone else that have been self-isolating and healthy to cover for childcare or be a birth partner. Speak to this person about your birth plan and some things that might help you.
Write down your preferences even more clearly.
Another option is to get a doula or an independent midwife or at least pencil one as a back up plan.
Get your partner to record a relaxation on audio as a backup plan for birth or even a video so that you feel them present with you.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 at the point of going into labour:
Maternity services should still treat you with dignity, and you can always decline any intervention/treatment you are not happy with. However in some cases Trusts may have to make changes to the services they offer. The law allows them to do this, even if it means restricting choices, if they can show that it is a proportionate response to the challenge of coronavirus. For more information about your birth rights in a situation like this please click here.
Official guidance recommends that women who have (or may have) COVID-19 give birth on an obstetric unit with continuous fetal monitoring (CTG) and increased maternal monitoring (e.g. oxygen monitoring). However, the fetal monitoring advice is based on a very small sample of births in Wuhan, China, where there was a higher than usual rate of babies being distressed during labour. It is not clear at present whether this was linked to COVID-19, as the sample size was very small, so this advice is only a precaution.
The use of birthing pools in hospitals should be avoided in suspected or confirmed cases, given the inability to use adequate protection equipment for healthcare staff during water birth.
Post-partum (if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19):
Given a lack of evidence to the contrary, delayed cord clamping is still recommended following birth, provided there are no other contraindications. The baby can be cleaned and dried as normal while the cord is still intact.
In case of a mother with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19, breastfeeding is recommended from the first hour of birth. Breastfeeding protects the baby from respiratory infections (among other pathologies).
Current advice is that there is no risk to babies from breastfeeding. However, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should wear a mask when you are feeding.
Mother and baby can and should stay together, as long as the mother takes the necessary measures to prevent transmission, such as the use of a mask and hand washing.
Only in the event that the mother presents serious symptoms does the separation of mother and baby arise, allowing the mother to express milk. This decision will be made taking into account the mother's wishes.
The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the hypothetical risk of contagion. Existing studies show that women with COVID-19 have not detected these viruses in breast milk.
Nor has vertical transmission of the virus been detected (during pregnancy and delivery).
The WHO clearly states that babies born to a mother with suspected or confirmed infection with COVID-19, should be breastfed before the first hour at birth and should be allowed to be together, practice skin-to-skin and the kangaroo method, having to maintain respiratory hygiene measures even while breastfeeding, wearing a mask and washing hands before touching your babies.
Maternity unit visitor restrictions from St George's hospital (updated as of 7th April)
For latest information on from St George's hospital here
All women in active labour can be accompanied by one birth partner. This birth partner should not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and will be asked to complete a questionnaire on arrival.
No visitors, not even the birth partner, are allowed on the postnatal or antenatal wards. We are working hard to ensure that women can go home after birth as soon as it is safe for them and their baby.
Birth partners can not accompany women admitted to the antenatal ward for induction of labour. However, once transferred to the delivery suite the birth partner can join the woman.
This means that your partner can be with you when you are in established labour until the baby arrives and have some limited time with the newborn when she is born.
Women requiring an elective or emergency Caesarean section, or an instrumental delivery in theatre, may be accompanied by their birth partner in the theatre.
Women who come into hospital with their partner to give birth should bring everything they and their baby need for their entire stay, including after the birth.
Therefore any birth partners who leave the delivery suite will not be allowed to re-enter under any circumstances.
Homebirths are suspended at the moment.
Women will always have a midwife with them in labour and they encourage women to speak to their midwife with any questions or concerns about their pregnancy or birth.
St Georges's aim is to ensure that you can have a very positive birth experience with their dedicated staff during this pandemic.
If you'd like to know how hypnobirthing can help you to be calm and relaxed regardless of everything else that is happening at present, please check my upcoming courses here. All of the courses are now online via Zoom.
Updated on 27th March 2020