Maternity support during COVID-19

Read about how coronavirus could affect you, your baby and your pregnancy care.
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Last updated on 5 January 2021

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, the government is advising everyone to stay at home from 5 January 2021. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. To check the latest Government guidance please visit Gov.uk.

If you're pregnant, it's important you:

  • wash your hands regularly

  • stay at home as much as possible and follow the advice on social distancing, such as staying at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
  • stay away from anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus

You still need to go to all of your pregnancy (antenatal) scans and appointments unless you're told not to.

Go to the full Government guidance

How does coronavirus affect pregnancy? 

According to the NHS, it's expected that most pregnant women will experience mild or moderate cold or flu-like symptoms if you have COVID-19. 

Pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution. There is no evidence to suggest being pregnant means you're more likely to get coronavirus. However, for a small number of women, it does mean being pregnant may change the way their body handles severe viral infection. 

If you're pregnant and have an underlying health condition, such as asthma or diabetes, you may be more unwell if you develop the virus. If you have significant heart disease, congenital or acquired, you are considered extremely vulnerable and should follow the government advice and guidance.

Has COVID-19 affected the care I should expect?

With NHS services changing the way they work in response to COVID-19, some people who are currently expecting children have told Healthwatch that they are concerned that about going into hospital during the current outbreak and that there is not enough support for them to give birth at home.

The NHS has written to services reminding them that they need to:

  • Be in regular contact with all women receiving antenatal and postnatal care.
  • Make clear to women how to access maternity services for scheduled and unscheduled care.
  • Encourage them to raise any concerns so that the maternity teams can advise and reassure women of the best and safest place to receive care.

If you are worried you should contact the service who is supporting you to understand the support available and to discuss your concerns.

When I went to my first scan I saw how quiet it was and the staff were so friendly - it made me feel much better, but I do still think that the NHS could do more to support people that are having a baby. I was able to take my husband to a private scan, we both had masks on, we both kept our distance from people and he sat away from me when I had the scan itself. I think the NHS should consider this, especially for first-time parents and for people who have severe anxiety.
— Public feedback from a prospective first time mother

What is the government’s advice for pregnant women?

Pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable), so it’s important that you follow the government advice on coronavirus.

Follow the hygiene advice

There are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19, including:

  • Washing your hands more often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home.

Maintain social distancing

Social distancing refers to limiting face-to-face contact with others as much as possible. You should read the government guidance but the steps you should be following as much as possible include:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying COVID-19 symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature and/or new and continuous cough and/or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport.
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
  • Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces or getting together with friends and family in person.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

What should pregnant women do if they have coronavirus symptoms?

If you get any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste):

  1. Stay at home (self-isolate) – you and anyone you live with should not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone in your support bubble should also self-isolate if you've been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
  2. 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.
  3. Speak to your midwife or maternity team – they will advise you what to do. You may need to rebook some of your pregnancy appointments or have them online, by phone or as a video consultation.

Should pregnant women attend antenatal appointments?

  • If you are well, it’s important that you still attend your antenatal appointment. If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, contact your community midwife to postpone your appointment until the self-isolation period is over.
  • If you are due a routine scan or visit, check with your maternity unit for advice as you may still need to attend.
  • If you are asked to attend a scan or an appointment, you should go.

Can someone come with me to my appointment? 

Your partner or another chosen person should be allowed to accompany you all key appointments and scans as long as they are not showing COVID-19 symptoms. Your partner or chosen person may be required to have a negative COVID-19 test before visiting you on antenatal or postnatal wards.

Previously, it had been left to individual hospitals to decide whether a partner could come with you, but since the 14 December your partner or chosen person should be allowed to accompany you. 

Mental health advice for pregnant women

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental health issue during pregnancy or after giving birth. Pandemics, like coronavirus, are likely to cause anxiety. If expectant and new parents are worried about their mental wellbeing, they can get support from range of different organisations and charities. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance has an updated list of organisations that parents can contact during coronavirus.

Got another question?

As well as the advice available from the NHS, Government and charities the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has also produced a detailed COVID-19 Q&A for pregnant women and their families covering:

  • General advice.
  • Getting antenatal care.
  • Child birth choices and birth partners.
  • Having a COVID-19 infection or suspected infection.
  • The period after birth.

Find out more

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