COVID-19: Childbirth and Birthing Partners
April 23, 2020
We have reviewed recent publications by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and compiled a summary of the guidance and recommendations regarding childbirth and birth partner. If you would like more information, please visit: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/
We understand that this is a very stressful and challenging time for expecting mothers and with additional pressures on the NHS, maternity services will also be affected. The NHS has put into places measures to ensure that pregnant women are supported and cared for safely before, during, and after birth. This may mean that where possible, some consultations are provided over the phone or video call; however, please attend your routine check if they have been scheduled. This is incredibly important for the health of you and your baby.
Please read this guidance with caution as its purpose is to provide a concise summary of the most important points of childbirth during the pandemic. We also wish to reassure you that everything is being done in hospitals to ensure your safety and wellbeing, but if you have any additional concerns please contact your maternity unit or medical staff responsible for your care if you are already in hospital. We are all working together to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy, birth, and supportive postnatal care for you and your baby.
We would like you to be aware that if you have chosen to have a home birth or a birth in a midwife-led unit that is not co-located with an obstetrics unit, these services rely heavily on emergency ambulances and sufficient staff to keep your safe. In some places, this service can no longer be provided.
However, if you attend hospital for a birth you will be encouraged to have an asymptomatic birth partner with you. Plenty of studies have shown that having a birth partner with you makes a significant different to your safety and well-being during birth. Unfortunately, if your chosen birth partner is symptomatic of COVID-19 or has experienced symptoms within the last 7 days, you will be asked to arrange an alternative asymptomatic birth partner to protect your health and the health of the other patients and staff at the hospital.
In some cases, your birth partner may be able to attend your induction of birth, but only if this happens in a separate room and not the bay on the main ward as there would not be sufficient room to achieve social distancing measures. When you go into active labour, you will be moved to a separate room where you will be able to have your birth partner with you.
If you require a caesarean or instrumental birth, you will still be able to have your birth partner with you. Staff will be wearing enhanced PPE, which may make communication more challenging. This means that it is very important for your birth partner to follow all instructions promptly and carefully.
In some rare emergency scenarios, women need general anaesthetic to deliver the baby. If this is the case, for safety reasons, it is unlikely that your birth partner will be able to accompany you.
In order to minimise the risk of transmission and protect the health of patients, babies, and staff, visitor restrictions have been placed across all hospital wards. Unfortunately, this means that although you were able to have a birth partner with you for labour, it is unlikely that they will be able to accompany you for postnatal care. However, medical and support staff are doing everything they can to support the needs of all women.