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COVID-19 – Pregnancy Advice

I am pregnant – how do I stay safe?

Covid 19 is a new virus and we are still learning about it. Recent advice from health experts is that pregnant women should take extra care during the Covid-19 outbreak. Particularly in the third trimester (from 28 weeks pregnant onwards).

We have known for a long time that some pregnant women can be at risk of becoming more seriously ill if they catch a virus in pregnancy.  There is currently no proof that pregnant women and babies are at any higher risk from catching Covid-19, but we do know that being pregnant can change how your body would usually cope with having a virus. Experts want to find out more to be on the safe side. In the meantime they have advised pregnant women to be careful.

New evidence is showing that transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy or birth is likely, but it is thought that having the virus when pregnant is unlikely to cause problems with your baby’s development.

 

It is important to say that in all cases reported so far of newborn babies developing coronavirus soon after birth, the baby was well.

However until more is known about the virus it makes sense to ask pregnant women to take extra care. *Click Here* for more information from The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG). This information is updated regularly. 

There are lots of things you can do to help keep yourself and your baby safe. Please seek advice and support if you are feeling worried.

Things You Can Do to Help

  • The symptoms of coronavirus are a fever of 37.8 and / or a new and persistent cough.

    For most pregnant women it will feel like having the flu. However it is especially important that you take symptoms very seriously. If you are pregnant and have these symptoms you should let your midwife know. 

    Your midwife will re-arrange any appointments you may have while you stay at home and isolate.

    We know that being pregnant can affect how your body copes with a virus. 

    If you are pregnant and have symptoms of COVID-19, let your midwife know. If at any point you feel like your symptoms are getting worse or you are struggling to breathe you must dial 111 or 999 if it is an emergency.

  • This is a simple and effective way to protect yourself and your baby. Use warm soapy water to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Do this as often as you can and always;

    • When you arrive home.
    • Before you eat and drink.
    • After using the toilet.

    Try not to touch your mouth or face.

    In between times when you can’t use running water you can use alcohol gel to kill bacteria.

    *Click Here* for more information about stopping germs from spreading.

  • If someone has a high temperature (above 37.8) and/or a ‘new’ and persistent cough you should avoid them. If this is not possible for example;

    • They are your child - then you should increase hand washing and ensure coughs and sneezes are ‘caught in tissues’, throw tissue away and wash hands.
    • They are an adult you live with - they should care for themselves in a separate room if possible.
    • Your work involves contact – you should speak to your employer and ask how they will protect you. After 28 weeks you should not have direct contact.
  • Stay at home. Keep any contact with those who do not live in your house to an absolute minimum. You should not meet up with family or friends.

    • Keep 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with.
    • Get someone else to do any essential shopping if possible. Avoid public transport.
    • Work form home if at all possible – your employer should support you to do this.
    • Use telephone or online services if you need to speak to your GP or other essential services.

How Can I Protect Myself & My Baby?

  • Once you reach 28 weeks pregnant you should socially isolate yourself;

    • See as few people face to face as possible.
    • Leave your home only once a day for exercise – keeping at a 2 metre distance from others.
    • Get others to pick up essentials. Ask your friends or neighbours for help if you can. If you do not have someone to help, you can get support from the Norfolk County Council *here*.
    • If others in the house are still going out to do essential work they should keep 2 metres from you and maintain very good hygiene – changing clothes and washing hands well.
  • The way that antenatal care happens may change over the next few weeks. It is still very important that you receive support and advice whilst you are pregnant. 

    • If you are well you should still attend all antenatal and postnatal hospital appointments.
    • If you or someone in your house has symptoms do not go to your appointment. Call your midwife for advice and to rearrange.
    • Make sure your midwife has your most up to date phone number so they can let you know if your appointment changes / or will happen over the phone. They may phone you before a home visit to check you are well.
    • When you call the delivery suite prior to delivery they will ask you questions about your health over the phone. 
    • If you have any worries during your pregnancy about your own, or your babies health use the contact numbers provided straight away to get advice.
  • This is a worrying time for everyone - especially when you have been asked to be extra careful because of your pregnancy.

    • There is a lot of information out there not all of it is true. Stick to well known websites like those from GOV.UK and NHS, or pages linked to from them.
    • Talk to your midwifery team about your worries.
    • Stay in touch with friends and family – use calls, facetime, emails and texts to keep in the loop.
    • Spend time thinking about and looking forward to your baby – this is a special time try not to let worry make you forget that.
    • Use mindfulness and relaxation to keep calm for you and your baby (it will be a useful in labour too!) You could try these NHS techniques *here*.

    Use the time to feel prepared – have at look at our online Pathway to Parenting course *here*.

    The free Online Solihull Parenting course can give you tips on how to understand your baby. Register *here* and complete it in your own time.

  • Everyone should be working from home if possible to reduce the risks from coronavirus. You should ask your employer if this is possible for you. If at all possible you should be allowed to do so.

    If you are pregnant and cannot work from home your employer (contact occupational health if available) should risk assess your job.

    • Where possible they should give jobs that decrease the risk to a pregnant or other vulnerable workers.
    • You should be able to socially distance (be 2 metres or more apart from others) and avoid public transport.
    • If you are in a public facing role you should be supported if you decide you want to avoid this during your pregnancy. From 28 weeks you should not do this work. You should be able to work from home or be on paid leave.
    • If you work in a role where you are likely to come into contact with a person with coronavirus you can choose to continue to do so. You should have the advised personal protective equipment (PPE) available. You can decide not to do this work during your pregnancy and should be supported to do so. From 28 weeks you should not do this work. You should be able to work from home or be on paid leave.
  • Because experts cannot be sure that COVID-19 is not more risky for pregnant women the advice is that they take extra care. This is especially the case in the last trimester (28 weeks onwards) of pregnancy.

    From this time pregnant women should stay home. Avoid public places and transport and not mix with people they do not live with. You can go out once a day for fresh air and exercise but should avoid other people.

    • You should wash your hands well and regularly.
    • You should avoid contact with anyone who has symptoms (a high temperature, a new and persistent cough).
    • It is a stressful time and it is important to look after your mental wellbeing. There are some tips from the mental health foundation *here*.
  • Does coronavirus make a difference to my preferred place and kind of delivery?

    There may be changes to the choices available to you. These changes will be made with the best interests of you and your baby in mind. You will still be given as much choice as possible in these difficult times. Talk to your midwifery team for the most up to date information on what is happening in your area. 

    Does the coronavirus mean I won’t be able to have my birth partner with me in Labour?

    In some parts of the world you may have heard that birth partners are not allowed to try and stop spread of the virus. This may have worried you. It is especially difficult because advice is changing everywhere all the time.

    In the UK the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) are in agreement that wherever possible pregnant women should be able to have one birth partner with them when in active labour or during a caesarean.

    As long as your birth partner does not have symptoms (a high temperature and / or new cough) they should be able to attend. It is a good idea to have someone as your ‘reserve' birth partner just in case this happens.

    If you do have to be in labour without a birth partner for any reason the midwifery team will be there to care for you and support you every step of the way.

    If you are being induced, or an inpatient at the hospital before you are in established labour, your partner will not be able to attend to begin with. The midwifery team will let you know when to ask your birth partner to come in to be with you.

    What about visiting on the antenatal, postnatal wards and NICU?

    The rules for visiting by your partner before and after your baby is born have had to change because of COVID-19. This is to keep the risk to new mum’s, babies and staff as low as possible.

    It means that visiting time for partners has sadly had to be limited. All other visitors including siblings cannot visit the wards. You should check with your midwifery team for the latest rules as they are changing frequently.

    Visiting is also limited if your baby has to be admitted to the Neonatal Unit (NICU). This is to make it as safe as they can for your baby and everyone on the unit. The staff will explain this to you. They will do everything they can to give you as much time with your baby as is possible.

    The staff all realise how hard this is at what is a very special time, and are sorry these measures have had to be introduced. The new rules are being frequently reviewed and as soon as it is safe for everyone, visiting will be increased again.

    They will be working hard to get you and your baby home as soon as you are both well enough to be there.

    You will be able to keep in touch using technology like phones and tablets. Remember to bring your chargers with you and check your data allowance or download apps that will allow you to send photos and video for free like WhatsApp.

    Please be considerate when using these devices;

    • Avoid using them late at night.
    • Keep volumes down / use vibrate settings – to keep noise levels low.
    • Only film yourself and your own baby.

    What about visitors when we get home?

    You should not have anyone visiting your home that does not live there, unless it is an essential medical visit. We know this is really hard for you and for your family or friends, but they should not visit. It will increase the risk to your baby and to you.

    Midwives will carry out more contacts by phone / skype during this time.

    For now introduce your baby using technology. Close family can come and look through a window. We know this feels very sad but it won’t last forever.

    • Use this special time to get used to being a family unit and rest when you can. The ‘bubble’ of being together with your new baby is precious. You can focus on really getting to know each other.
    • Let your family know you still need their support and want them to be involved. Telephone calls and contact with you is really important.
    • Meals / shopping / gifts dropped off on the doorstep during their ‘daily exercise’ will still be gratefully received!

    When this is all over you can make up for lost time with family and friends.

Who Can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

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