Here's what you need to know if you're giving birth at KGH soon

Here's all you need to know about maternity services at KGH during the coronavirus pandemic

By Phoebe Radford
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 2:00 pm

A leaflet has been sent to pregnant women registered at KGH to warn them of changes being made in maternity services as the NHS tackles the coronavirus pandemic.

Women showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be cared for in isolation rooms by midwives wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and are recommended not to have a birthing partner.

Other measures include the suspension of home births and no visitors to the maternity ward other than one birthing partner.

KGH has sent a leaflet to all pregnant women

KGH also warned that putting on necessary PPE could delay critical procedures in maternity services.

Head of Midwifery at KGH, Mara Tonks, said: "Our leaflet acknowledges that in the case of an obstetric emergency involving a patient with COVID-19 symptoms staff would be required to don appropriate protective equipment and this brings with it a potential risk of a slightly slower than normal response."

The leaflet said: "In order for all staff to apply the necessary PPE as instructed by Public Health England (PHE) all procedures (including time critical emergency procedures) will take slightly longer to achieve.

"This may have serious implications for the health of the patient (mother) and/or baby, including injury and the very rare risk of death."

Ms Tonks said: “Such circumstances are likely to be rare and clearly the risk of COVID-19 itself brings significant risks which we must take account of.

"To outline these arrangements we have sent a leaflet to all pregnant mothers registered with KGH to give them appropriate guidance. This is in line with Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidance.

"It is vitally important that pregnant mothers do inform us if they have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms so that appropriate arrangements can be in place for their care."

The leaflet covered measures for women with suspected coronavirus symptoms and said: "Patients with suspected COVID-19 infection who need hospital admission will be swab tested and informed of the result at the earliest opportunity."

Those with suspected or confirmed coronavirus will be cared for in isolation rooms within the delivery suite. They will be allocated a midwife who will have telephone contact with the obstetric team, and there will be two midwives for stays longer than two hours.

This is to allow midwives comfort breaks from wearing PPE.

The leaflet also said: "We strongly recommend that women with symptoms of COVID-19 do not bring a birth partner into hospital with them, even in labour."

This is a recommendation and a statement from KGH said: "Women may bring a birth partner into hospital with them - so long as the birthing partner is not symptomatic."

Another recommendation for women with COVID-19 symptoms is to have an epidural.

The leaflet said: "In addition to being an effective analgesia choice for labour, as the application of PPE will increase the length of time that it takes to transfer to theatre - an epidural could help reduce the potential delays in an emergency situation."

KGH is recommending discharge as soon as women have recovered from birth and said: "COVID-19 is not a reason to stay in hospital, and with or without infection, being in your own home is definitely the safest place for you and your family."

Other maternity services

Ms Tonks said: "Local families should be reassured that we are doing everything possible to maintain high levels of infection control and clinical safety in our maternity department.

"This includes introducing questions and temperature checks in our maternity reception."

Maternity staff will also be wearing protective equipment when caring for all women.

KGH has suspended its home birth service but community midwives are still undertaking home visits for postnatal care.

Antenatal clinics are also continuing but will become telephone clinics where possible.

KGH had previously announced limitations on visitors at the hospital and this includes the limit of one birthing parter for all women. This person is not interchangeable and should not have any coronavirus symptoms.

The advice on visitors also covered people accompanying women to scans.

In a statement, the hospital said: "Other people will not be able to accompany women to scans or other appointments in the Rockingham wing unless there are extenuating circumstances which require someone else to be present.

"If you believe you have extenuating circumstances, please contact the department you will be visiting before you attend to discuss this further."

KGH also said there is no evidence to suggest the virus can be carried by breastmilk and said this is still a safe feeding choice.

KGH said: "It is very important that as few people as possible enter the hospital site to reduce the chance of social spread of the virus and protect patients and visitors alike."

How to contact the maternity COVID helpline

Women are still advised to contact the delivery suite for advice relating to pregnancy related issues such as reduced foetal movements, any bleeding etc.

In addition to the delivery suite contact number the hospital has a Maternity COVID Helpline for women to answer questions at this difficult time which is open from 9am-5pm seven days a week.

It consists of three mobile telephone numbers: 07813363710, 07974259347, and 07545422895.

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