If you are pregnant after a stillbirth or death of your newborn baby, this is already likely to be a time of many emotions and heightened anxiety. The circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic may further intensify any worries and you may have many questions about what will happen.
Even though the NHS is under pressure, your maternity team is there to make sure you and your baby have the care you need. Your and your baby’s wellbeing will be their first priority.
Talk to the maternity staff about any worries you may have, including when you just need reassurance. They understand that this is an anxious time.
Your maternity notes can be marked with a Sands teardrop sticker to alert all the staff involved in your care to your pregnancy history. Tell your midwife about the stickers if they don’t already have one.
If you have any immediate concerns about your baby’s or your own health, it’s important you contact your maternity team straight away. Don’t worry that you might be bothering them - they want to hear from you.
Make sure you know who to ring in different situations and have all the numbers handy - ask your midwife if you don’t already know.
Information you can trust
Pregnancy and maternity services are affected by the need to minimise COVID 19 risks. It’s important that you have good, reliable information about your pregnancy care and what you can expect when you give birth.
We recommend you follow these links to read reliable, evidence-based advice and information specifically for pregnant women, produced by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM)
This information is up-dated regularly as new data becomes available
The advice covers:
- General advice for all pregnant women during the coronavirus pandemic
- Advice for all pregnant women about attending antenatal appointments and your care during the coronavirus pandemic
- Information for all pregnant women about birth choices and birth partners during the coronavirus pandemic
- Advice for pregnant women who have suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection
- Advice for women with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection who have recently given birth
- Guidance for pregnant women who work in a public-facing role
The RCM also has coronavirus Q&As for pregnant women and families
NHS England has information:
- specifically about coronavirus and newborn babies
- about general early signs of illness in a newborn baby
- for professionals about steps to take to allow partners to attend appointments with pregnant women and to visit them in hospital.
- I’m not in an antenatal group - are there other parents like me I can talk with?
Sands online forum has a group for bereaved parents in a subsequent pregnancy.
- Will I have special care during this pregnancy – I’m scared things will go wrong again?
It’s important that you continue to attend all your scheduled antenatal appointments, so you have the care you need.
Your maternity team should be familiar with your history and make sure your care takes that into account. If you are worried or unhappy with your care, talk to your midwife or doctor. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions, or share concerns. You can use Sands helpline to talk about any concerns, call free 0808 164 3332 or email email@example.com
- I’m worried about going to antenatal scans on my own but I’ve heard I can’t bring anyone with me.
Guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic says, “Patients should be asked to attend scans alone if possible or with a maximum of one partner/visitor”. The policy in your area will vary according to how local services are being organised. If your unit is not able to allow partners to attend scans, talk to your maternity team about your anxieties in case they can make an exception for you.
The British Medical Ultrasound Society does not recommend patients phone-video their scan. This is to ensure best-quality scans, maximise the numbers of scans they can do and minimise infection transmission. Some scanning departments are allowing women to link to their partner by phone during the scan if their partner cannot attend with them, but this depends on what can be offered locally.
- I don’t want to go to antenatal appointments alone.
Currently all pregnant women are being asked to attend face-to-face antenatal appointments alone. It is understandable if you may find that hard. It’s still important you do attend all your scheduled antenatal appointments so your maternity team can look after you. Tell them if you are anxious. There may be ways to make it easier for you.
- Will I have to give birth alone?
National guidance is that women can have one partner (without COVID-19 symptoms) with them, in established labour. You will not be able to have someone with you before established labour or after the birth if you stay on a postnatal ward. Midwives, doctors and support staff are very skilled and will take care of you throughout labour and afterwards. Ask about what you can expect and talk to your midwife about any anxieties.
- How do I know what my local hospital is offering?
Different hospital Trusts are organising services in slightly different ways, to provide the best care they can in local circumstances. You can read the national advice for pregnant women here. You will need to find out the detail about maternity services in your area, by talking to your maternity team and looking for information from your hospital Trust online. You could ask someone in your family or a friend to help you make enquiries and find out remotely, before you attend hospital, so you feel better prepared.
- Will I have a choice about which maternity unit I give birth in?
This will depend on how maternity services in your local area are organised during COVID-19. If the choices available are inappropriate for you, speak to your midwife or doctor and tell them about your concerns.
- I’m frightened to go to the hospital – is it safe?
Maternity units are doing everything they can to minimise the spread of COVID-19 infection to women and their babies, while ensuring you have the care you need. Talk to your maternity team about any worries and ask about what your hospital is doing to keep you safe.
- I’m worried about my baby’s movements but I don’t want to go to hospital to get checked
If you think your baby’s movements have changed or slowed down, ring your maternity team straight away. Don’t wait until the next day. Your maternity team can advise you about what to do so they can check your baby’s wellbeing. You can ask questions if you are worried about going into the hospital.