Ask the Expert:
a&u Health Editor, Suzie Skipper chats to Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Miss Karen Joash at The Portland Hospital and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust about what to expect if you are giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic.
Is the procedure for going into hospital any different?
Yes, it is now slightly different to try and minimise the number of visits. It depends on where you are giving birth as some birth centres are now closed. This means you may have to give birth on the labour ward. You can still have the birth centre experience if you wish on the labour ward as many have birthing rooms and pools available.
Can I bring my birthing partner and have visitors?
Most units allow one birthing partner to attend as long as they are not symptomatic for Covid-19. This is to minimise transfer to you, your baby and others in the hospital.
Most hospitals have now stopped visitors from attending to minimise the risk of anyone getting Covid-19.
What happens if I need a C-section or other invention?
You are still allowed a partner in theatre in most hospitals as long as you do not require an general anaesthetic.
Will I be automatically tested for the virus?
It depends which hospital you attend. However most hospitals do not routinely test. At The Portland Hospital, all women are routinely tested.
What happens if I go into labour and am in self-isolation?
You should inform your labour ward when you call and they will treat you as suspected Covid-19. They will meet you at the entrance of the hospital and give you a mask to wear.
If I have Covid-19 will this pass to my baby?
At the moment there have only been a few documented cases of newborn babies with Covid-19. The transmission in these cases was not clear. It is known to be rare however.
Your baby will be monitored closely and if there are any signs they will be tested.
Although the risk of your newborn baby catching the coronavirus are very low, the NHS has a leaflet telling you what to look out for. Find out more here.
Can I still stay close to my baby/breastfeed?
Yes, absolutely. Skin-to-skin contact is very much recommended for mums and babies.
Breastfeeding provides vital immune support for the baby. If you have had Covid-19 and have recovered it is fine to breastfeed your baby as normal.
If you currently have Covid-19 you are advised to wear a face mask when feeding your baby.
Unicef has some very helpful advice on feeding your baby during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Is there any increased risk of catching the virus post birth?
The immune system changes in the first six weeks after birth. Some case series have documented women in this period requiring critical care support. You are advised therefore to continue social distancing and follow the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines.
How will my postnatal care be affected?
You may have reduced visits and this information should be available from your local hospital website.