Coronavirus: frequently asked questions for people using maternity services
If you are worried about your health or the health of your baby, please call 111, your midwife or maternity unit. In an emergency, dial 999.
Devon Local Maternity System supports women and families who are pregnant or have had a baby recently. This includes the four providers of maternity care in Devon:
- Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
- Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
- Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust
It also includes “Devon Maternity Voices Partnership” who represent people who use maternity services and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group who plan and buy local services.
We want to make sure you and your baby are well during the coronavirus pandemic and we are committed to providing safe and personal maternity care. It is important that you have the right information to help you to make informed decisions about your maternity care. For more information, please visit the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the NHS website:
We are also publishing frequently asked questions that are specific to Devon on a regular basis. Please see below.
What should I do if I have symptoms of coronavirus?
If you start experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste) you should:
- Stay at home (self-isolate) – do not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate.
- Book a test – get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, should also get a test if they have symptoms.
- Speak to your midwife or maternity team – they will advise you what to do, for example you may need to rebook some of your pregnancy appointments or have them online, by phone or as a video consultation
Important - If you’re worried about your symptoms or not sure what to do, get advice from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. More information can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/
Will I be offered antenatal education?
To reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, face to face antenatal classes are not taking place. However, people who live in Devon now have access to free online antenatal education to help prepare for pregnancy, labour, birth and looking after your baby. For more information go to www.inourplace.co.uk and apply the access code TAMAR for FREE access.
What antenatal appointments will I be offered?
Everything you need for your antenatal care will be offered to you; however, your appointments may be at a different location than you have attended before or be by telephone or video call. If you are self-isolating or you have symptoms of coronavirus, please speak to your midwife or maternity unit to get their advice on attending routine antenatal appointments. Your local health visiting team may also contact you to offer you an antenatal contact, so that you understand what support they can offer you and your family now and after your baby’s birth.
Will I need to wear a face covering for any of my care?
In line with recent recommendations from the Government on Monday 15 June 2020, you will need to wear a face covering when you come to a hospital as a visitor or outpatient.
We request that you wear a face covering to any antenatal or postnatal appointments in the hospital or the community including scans. Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the GOV.UK website.
If you come into hospital to have your baby or you are an inpatient on the antenatal or postnatal wards, you will not need to wear a face covering. However, we do ask that you wear a face covering on your way in and out of the hospital.
Anyone attending any care with you including birth partners will be asked to wear a face covering at all times. This is to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus if people are infected but do not yet have any symptoms.
We know that wearing a face covering can feel strange and difficult, but we appreciate your support in keeping service users and staff safe.
For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.
Can I have someone with me at my antenatal appointments?
To reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading, you will not be able to have someone to attend your antenatal appointment with you. By minimising the number of people who attend health care settings, we can protect service users and staff.
Can my partner attend my scan appointments with me?
Devon Local Maternity System have recommended to providers of maternity care that your partner should be able to attend one of your scan appointments with you. Your partner must socially distance and use a face mask at this appointment.
This is a new recommendation and may take some time for each hospital to arrange so may not be available in your local area yet.
As my partner will not be attending all my scan appointments with me, can I film it or take live footage?
To ensure the best conditions for your scan, you will not be able to film or take live footage. Ultrasound examinations are time consuming, require great concentration, and any disturbances will reduce the effectiveness of the scan and communication with you.
Will my birth plan be affected?
All maternity providers in Devon are offering the full range of services including home birth. If you have any queries, please contact your midwife or maternity unit.
Can I have someone with me with me when I go into labour?
Yes, you are encouraged to have a birth partner with you during labour and birth – unless they have coronavirus symptoms.
Can someone visit me if I am admitted to a maternity ward?
Devon Local Maternity System have recommended to providers of maternity care that you should be able to have a visitor if you are admitted for induction of labour or to a postnatal ward. This will be for a limited amount of time, pre-planned and agreed with the ward staff, your visitor must socially distance and use a face covering.
This is a new recommendation and may take some time for each hospital to arrange so may not be available in your local area yet, please ask your midwife or maternity unit for local details. The visiting that is being offered is dependent on the facilities in each hospital and we are regularly reviewing how we can increase these options. For the times during your stay that you do not have a visitor we would like you to know that our staff are here to support you emotionally and practically.
Will maternity staff be wearing personal protective equipment?
To help to reduce the spread of coronavirus, all maternity and health visiting staff in the hospital and community will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). This may include masks, aprons or gowns, gloves and face visors.
Will I be offered a test for coronavirus?
If you need an overnight stay in hospital you will be offered a test for coronavirus. You’ll be offered a coronavirus test for your baby if either parent has symptoms or has tested positive.
If my baby is on the neonatal unit who can visit?
To ensure that social distancing can happen, the number of visitors is being kept to a minimum. Both parents can visit all units, however, in some units we request that parents limit this to one at a time. Please check the local situation with your midwife or neonatal unit.
What postnatal visits and support will I get?
When you have had your baby, the midwife will discuss your plan of care for the postnatal period with you. The midwifery service are providing some home visits, while some postnatal assessments will be provided from a local hub or community service. We will talk to you about local arrangements when you return home. Between 10-14 days after you have had your baby your health visitor will contact you to discuss how they can support you postnatally.
What do I need to do if a midwife or health visitor is due to visit me at home?
If you or anyone in your home has symptoms of coronavirus, please ring your midwife or health visitor before the visit. Please open the window of the room you will be in to ensure it is well ventilated and open doors to limit surfaces that are touched by the midwife. Please make space so the visit can be with just the mum and baby and ask other family members to keep the two-metre social distance.
Where can I get help if I need support with my mental health or emotional wellbeing?
Many services are available to support your mental health and wellbeing. For more information, please talk to your midwife.
Will my family be able to visit my baby when I return home?
We advise you to follow the Government guidance on social distancing.
If you would like to talk about how this information affects your individual circumstances, please contact your midwife or maternity unit.
This information was co-produced with Devon Maternity Voices Partnership who represent people who use maternity services:
Facebook: Devon Maternity Voices Partnership
Information last reviewed and updated: 29 June 2020.