We understand that many of you will be worried about the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and the impact it will have on your pregnancy and care. We would like to reassure you that our Hospital Birth Centre and Home from Home Centre are fully operational and if you are booked to have your baby at St Thomas' Hospital you are still able to give birth here. The changes we have made are with the safety of our patients and staff as our top priority. In collaboration with the Lambeth/St Thomas' Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) chairs we have created a list of frequently asked questions below to reassure you in this difficult time.
Are antenatal and breastfeeding education workshops still available?
Can my partner attend antenatal appointments and birth?
We have made temporary changes to our visiting policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in order to reduce the spread of infection.
Women attending outpatient appointments (including antenatal visits, scans and blood tests) should attend the appointment unaccompanied. Currently no visitors are permitted on the antenatal ward or postnatal ward.
For women in labour only one companion will be allowed. This companion can stay for the duration of labour but will need to leave four hours after delivery or earlier if the mother is transferred to another area.
Please understand that this was a difficult decision to make but has been done to keep you safe from risk of infection. Rest assured we will be monitoring the situation and will make adjustments to the restriction as soon as it is safe to do so.
What should I do if the baby’s movements are slowing down?
Most women become aware of their baby's movement between 16 and 20 weeks gestation. As the pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, both the number and type of movements will change. If you notice your baby is moving less than usual or if you have noticed a change in the pattern of movements, or you are simply unsure, do not wait as this sometimes means that the baby is unwell. It is important that you speak to a midwife by contacting the maternity helpline, which is open 24/7 on 020 7188 8760.
For more information about baby movement, visit the Tommy's website.
Can a pregnant woman with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 still give birth at the hospital
Yes, absolutely. We advise you to contact us and attend the maternity unit for the birth. As a precautionary approach we will monitor the baby's heart rate using continuous electronic fetal monitoring, and check your oxygen levels during labour.
Can I have a home birth?
At St Thomas' Hospital we always strive to offer choice and personalised care to pregnant women. We have been able to maintain our home birth service during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means that if you plan to have your baby at home, and live in an area which the Trust serves, we will support you in your choice of homebirth.
Who should I contact if I am feeling anxious or depressed in pregnancy and after birth?
We fully appreciate that this is a stressful and anxiety provoking time so please do continue to reach out to your midwife. There is still support being offered for women with mild to severe mental illness, from talking therapies to more specialist perinatal mental health teams.
There is also online support that your midwife can share with you from anxiety workbooks to art psychotherapy or using the 'hub of hope' app to find support in your local area.
If you are in crisis and need to speak to someone urgently you can call the crisis number 24/7 on 0800 731 2864.
How can I look after my mental wellbeing during this crisis?
It is important to look after your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Try to stay connected with family and friends, which could include using video calls and messaging services to share photos. Try and keep a daily routine. Keep active, eat well, make a to-do list, take a lunch break, and be gentle with yourself, rest if you need to. Speak to your midwife – we are here for you.
Is it safe to breast feed my baby during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
Yes it is. Keeping you and baby together is still important and breastfeeding is strongly encouraged. It is worth remembering that you will make antibodies that will be passed on to your baby via your milk, usually within four hours. This protection will not exist if babies are exclusively formula fed. There is currently no evidence that the virus passes into breast milk. Mothers who have symptoms should try to wear a mask when feeding and in intimate contact with their baby and strictly follow hand washing information.
How can I get support and information about breastfeeding when at home?
We are here for you, you can speak to a midwife by contacting the infant feeding team for Lambeth and Southwark in one of the following ways:
- Please call 07394 724599, the line will be open from 9.30am to 2pm. You can leave a message or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lambeth Breastfeeding Network Facebook page will post daily information about virtual feeding drop ins (via the online video meeting service, Zoom)
- Email mailto:email@example.com and we will get back to you within 24 hours, Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.
The infant feeding team is available via phone or video and, when needed, face-to-face appointments. We are also holding virtual support groups every weekday via our Facebook page. Further information is also available on our 'feeding your baby' webpage.
I have more questions and concerns, what can I do?
If you have a question that has not been answered here you can contact the maternity helpline anytime on 020 7188 8760.