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Coronavirus update for maternity services

We are making changes to keep mums, babies and families safe. We are very sorry to ask you to do this at such an important time for you and your family. But your safety and that of your baby and your family is our top priority.

To help us look after you and your baby, it's really important to tell your midwife or maternity team if you test positive for Coronavirus.

If you have no symptoms, or mild symptoms, you will be advised to recover at home. If you have more severe symptoms, you might be treated in a hospital setting.

We are caring for a large number of patients with Covid-19 in our hospitals, and there are high infection rates in the community across Kent and Medway. To help keep everyone as safe as possible, we are unable to change our current visiting restrictions at this time. 

Appointments and scans

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, all NHS Trusts have had to make difficult decisions on limiting visitors to hospitals. These decisions were often most felt in maternity.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, we are delighted that we can now invite a support person to attend every antenatal appointment and scan throughout your pregnancy.

Ursula Marsh, Director of Midwifery, said: “Preparing to have a baby should be a joyous family occasion, full of excitement. This year has been challenging for us all and having to limit partners’ involvement in their baby’s scans and some appointments has been very difficult.  Our priority is to ensure the safety of mum, baby, the partner and our staff. We’re confident our appointment process and infection control measures are robust enough to welcome partners to all scans and appointments. This is an important part of every pregnancy experience and we’re all thrilled partners can be there to support mum-to-be.”

The Trust is reminding everyone that only one partner can attend the scans and appointments. We are continuing with our support for one partner at birth and on the postnatal/ antenatal ward from 8-8pm.

Ursula added: “We have a duty to our patients, babies and staff to do all we can to minimise infection and we’ll be insisting that all partners follow every safety protocol we have in place.”

Any partner displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 is asked to not attend the hospital. All visitors to any hospital are required to wear a mask/face covering and comply with all infection control procedures.

As part of being able to reopen safely, the woman and their support partner must have had a rapid COVID-19 test (also known as a lateral flow test) within 24 hours of the appointment or scan. When you arrive at the hospital you will both need to provide proof of a negative rapid coronavirus test from the government test reporting system. If you have any concerns or are unable to perform a lateral flow please contact your midwife or the maternity triage department.

To find out how to order a free test, please visit https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

To help support social distancing, please arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before your planned appointment time.  Be aware that your support person may be asked to wait outside of the department prior to the appointment, if we are unable to adhere to social distancing within the waiting area.

We are asking local people to respect the dedicated NHS staff who care for them and we have a zero-tolerance campaign to tackle threats of violence, abuse or harassment against NHS staff.

Filming of scans is not permitted. 

Face coverings 

  • All patients and visitors coming to hospital, including pregnant women and your birth partner, need to wear a face covering. This is for your safety and the safety of other patients and staff
  • Face coverings can be cloth and/or homemade, and advice on how to wear and make one can be found on the government website
  • Please wear your face covering when you arrive and leave the hospital, in any communal areas (e.g. main entrance, corridors, waiting areas…) and during your appointment or scan. 
  • You do not need to wear a face covering during labour, but your birth partner does, including in private rooms and behind curtains. Teams caring for you wear appropriate personal protection. 
  • For more information see here

 Birth partners and visitors

  • You can have one named birthing partner with you for the duration of your labour and delivery.   
  • Only your birthing partner can visit you while you are in hospital. Your birth partner can also visit from 8am-8pm while you are in hospital.  
  • We cannot allow any other visitors, to help prevent the spread of infection.   
  • We cannot allow partners to stay overnight.

Antenatal classes 

  • We have to cancel antenatal classes for now but you can access free antenatal classes online here This includes sessions on understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby. 
  • This has been written by NHS midwives, health visitors and clinical psychologists and there are versions in English, Urdu and for women couples.
  • Please contact your midwife or health visitor for support if the course raises any concerns for you or your baby’s wellbeing. 

Tours 

  • We cannot run tours or drops ins at the moment but you can view video tours of our maternity units at QEQM and William Harvey hospitals via the MOMA app and on our website here
  • Please note that the information about birth partners and visiting guidelines are currently different to what it says on these videos, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. 
  • One named birthing partner can be with you for the duration of your labour and delivery. Only your birthing partner can visit you while you are in hospital. More information above.

Home births

After carefully monitoring the current situation, we are delighted to say that a full home birth service has now resumed.

If you are considering a homebirth and have not already discussed this with your midwife, please contact your midwife directly to arrange a home visit.

To help keep everyone safe, you must inform your midwife if you or anyone in your household has any symptoms of coronavirus.

We ask that you have only one named birth partner with you during your labour and delivery and no other visitors.

Your midwife will check your and your birth partner’s temperature on arrival.

We took the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the home birth service for a second time in December for the safety of women, babies and our staff.

We are very sorry for the disappointment this caused. Your safety and that of our staff remains our priority.

We are reassured that the ambulance service and our midwifery teams have the capacity and necessary precautions in place to safely resume home births.

If you have any further questions, or need more information, please contact your midwife.

Blood tests

Blood tests are now by appointment only for all patients. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to offer a walk-in service.

To book an appointment please click on the following link to access the booking portal https://itx.ekhuft.nhs.uk/patheks

If you are unable to book via this portal please call 01227 206739. Please note this number is only to book blood test appointments if you are unable to use the above link.

Useful links

You can find helpful information about pregnancy and our maternity services on the MOMA app and our maternity web pages as well as our social media channels: FacebookTwitter, Instagram 

Download the Coronavirus Maternity Leaflet for parents with newborn babies



Message from your local Maternity Voices Partnership during Covid-19

Becoming a parent can be a bit scary at the best of times but with the changes to maternity services due to Covid-19, things can seem more overwhelming than usual. It can be hard to keep up with what all this means for your care throughout pregnancy and when your baby is born.                                                                                        

Your local Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) is a great resource at this time. Each Kent MVP has links to their local hospital, birthing centres, midwives and heads of maternity. 

MVPs can help with any questions you have and are also collecting the contact details of private and charity birthing world professionals who can give advice on breastfeeding, pregnancy, birth and caring for your new baby on the phone or on video chat. 

Please use the links below to find your local MVP on Facebook, subscribe to posts by ‘liking’ the page and feel free to ask them any general questions you have. 

Important note: MVPs are independent from the Trusts they represent but will help you by signposting to the information you need. 

Any queries about the health of you or your baby must be directed straight to a healthcare professional at the hospital via the maternity triage line.

Links for the Facebook pages:

https://www.facebook.com/NorthKentMVP

https://www.facebook.com/MVPMedway/

https://www.facebook.com/MVPEastKent/

https://www.facebook.com/BirthVoices/