Over 1,447 babies have been safely delivered since lockdown began on 23 March and pregnant women who are worried about attending antenatal appointments are being advised that a number of measures have been brought in to protect them from coronavirus.

As part of the NHS’ rapid response to COVID-19, maternity services in Northamptonshire have had to change some of the care pathways and services in order to keep everyone safe and to follow national guidance.

This includes minimising all face-to-face appointments including obstetric clinic appointments and making amendments to community services to limit nonessential face-to-face contact between women and midwives.

As part of the social distancing strategy and also in line with the national guidance, birth partners are also being restricted to one per woman at this time.

Dr Emma Donnelly, Local GP and Clinical Lead for Maternity Services, Northamptonshire CCG said: “Being pregnant is a joyful time but it can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety to women and their partners, and we understand many of you are worried about the impact of coronavirus. In these worrying times we want you to feel assured that everything possible is being done to ensure your safety and retain the high levels of care you would receive at any other time.

“This does mean a number of measures have been brought in to protect you and your baby. We understand some of these measures, such as the restrictions on birthing partner numbers may be disappointing and would like to reassure you
that the midwives and maternity team are focused on your health, wellbeing and safety.

“It’s really important to keep in contact with your midwife during your pregnancy and maintain any appointments you have with them. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or about your baby’s wellbeing, please do not delay contacting your midwife or maternity services due to worries about hospitals being too busy to see you or concerns about catching coronavirus. The safety of you and your baby is our priority.”

This has been a rapidly changing situation and the care provided by the maternity teams is guided by national evidence for safest practice as this becomes available.

Northampton General and Kettering General Hospital have been working closely together to align their services during the pandemic.

Up-to-date information relating to maternity services, including visiting policies, birth partners and contact numbers is available on the hospitals’ websites

Patricia Ryan, Deputy Director of Midwifery, at NGH said: “We would like to thank the community for working with us and adapting to new clinic locations, new visiting restrictions and service changes. We know that some decisions we have had to take haven’t been easy for patients, but thanks to the overwhelming community support, our teams have welcomed 822 new babies during COVID19.

“We still want expectant mums to attend their appointments and see their midwives regularly. If they do have any concerns our team will be happy to support them”.

Rebecca Sturges’ story, who gave birth during Covid-19

She said: “I just wanted to share my experience at KGH for an elective section. It was an extremely positive one, I felt well looked after from the second I walked in to the second I walked out.

“When I arrived I was taken to the admittance bay; all arrivals on the same day are being kept together from start to finish which is reassuring as you know you are limiting contact outside those people. We all had a COVID-19 test and whilst I didn’t actually get the results, I assume a week on they were negative and so was everyone else’s or I’d have been contacted. We all also had our own midwife who was with us all day.

“The section experience itself was fine – they gave me plenty of time to contact my husband (25 mins) to let him know I was on my way to theatre. Two midwives walked me to the theatre, one then went to get him and brought him in. He stayed with me then until the end of the recovery time. All the theatre staff and midwives were really supportive and whilst in PPE I didn’t feel it made things scary, in fact to be honest it was more reassuring than anything.

“Once back on the ward, obviously I couldn’t move at first so had support breastfeeding and with the baby until I could get out of bed. All meds and checks were done at the right times and they checked with me at every stage that I was ok to have close contact etc. They also kept checking whether I wanted to continue skin to skin or dress her; in the end I had about 6 hours skin to skin before they dressed her in an outfit I chose so I could get up.

“At no point did I feel the staff were trying to keep distant in any way except for safety. They were quite happy to be hands on or off as much as I wanted and honestly it was nice not having visitors either when we were all trying to recover and bond with our babies – I’d personally say a policy of immediate family only and maybe in a visiting area moving forward would be better but I know others may not agree.

“We spent one night as inpatients in the end and I was keen to come home but they did offer me the option of another night if I felt I wanted it so anyone who worries they may end up leaving before they’re ready, don’t be.

“Overall it was a much nicer / calmer experience than I was expecting and definitely better than my first emergency section!”