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We have created this page to keep all our local Coronavirus (Covid-19) information central for you to easily access. Please check this page regularly for updates on visiting, appointments and pregnancy information related to Covid-19. We are working incredibly hard to keep you up to date with the latest information, therefore all relevant information will also be posted on our MTW Maternity Facebook page.

As information changes so rapidly during this time, we advise you to use reputable sources for information such as RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and Public Health England as these sites are regularly updated with government issued advice.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have published a regularly updated Frequently Asked Questions for Coronavirus related information.

Page updated 21/05/2021

FAQs about your pregnancy during the pandemic

Can I bring someone with me to my scan appointments?

We are delighted to be able to welcome partners back to all maternity scans and outpatient appointments at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as well as our birth centres in Maidstone and Crowborough.

Partners are required to carry out a lateral flow test within the 24 hour period before the appointment. A step-by-step guide detailing how to get a lateral flow test kit, how to perform the test and how to register the results can be found online by visiting www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Once your partner has registered their test result, please ensure they take a screen shot of it or have a copy of the confirmatory email or text as they will need to show this as proof of a negative test result when they attend your appointment.

When you arrive for your appointment at the hospital’s or birth centre’s main entrance:

  • You and your partner will have your temperatures taken by a staff member
  • You will be asked to show the text / screenshot / email confirming that your partner is Covid-19 negative
  • You will both be required to wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask or a visor – unless you are medically exempt or there is a clinical reason for you not to wear a mask
  • You will be asked to make your way to the waiting area where social distancing measures will be in place – please observe them. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, children are not allowed to attend your appointment due to social distancing measures being in place.

If your partner has tested positive then we expect them to follow national guidance and isolate at home.

While we encourage pregnant women to regularly carry out a lateral flow test during their pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed, you will still be able to attend your appointment if you do not carry out a test.

If you test positive ahead of your hospital or birth centre appointment, please let your midwife know and await advice on what to do next.

To help keep our staff, patients and visitors safe from the virus, social distancing measures are in place at some venues. To help reduce the number of people in the waiting room areas you and your partner may be asked to wait in your car until a midwife invites you into the building. If possible please avoid waiting outside entrance doors so other women and their partners can enter and exit the building safely.

Twice weekly rapid testing is now available to everybody. You and your birth partner are advised to take up this opportunity during your pregnancy. For details on where to get a lateral flow test kit or testing please visit – https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

We are currently working on plans in partnership with other NHS partners, to welcome birth partners to antenatal appointments in other settings such as GP surgeries and children’s centres. Details will be announced as soon as these are in place. Please note, as part of social distancing measures, children are not allowed to attend your appointment with you.

Can I have someone with me in labour?

Your nominated birth partner is now able to leave Tunbridge Wells Hospital, or Maidstone Birth Centre, and return at a later time, or the following day, throughout all stages of labour as well as during your stay on the postnatal ward at the hospital. Please note, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic, once a birth partner has been chosen you cannot change who they are.

A wristband will be given to your birth partner when they arrive at the hospital, or birth centre, to support you. The wristband proves the person has been with you previously. They must not remove it or give it to another person as they must show it to staff at the main entrance when they return. Entry is also subject to a temperature check being carried out by staff on the door. All birth partners are expected to observe social distancing measures and wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask at all times while in the hospital or birth centre – unless they are exempt or there is a clinical reason for them not to wear a mask.

If you need to attend the antenatal ward or triage area, a midwife will clarify the visitor arrangements for your birth partner when you speak to them before your arrival.

If you are an inpatient on the antenatal ward and you are not in early labour or being induced, your birth partner can visit you between 4pm and 5pm daily.

I have tested positive for Covid-19, can my birth partner be present during my labour/admission?

If you have tested positive for Covid-19, please call the maternity department on 01892 633500 in order to make an individualised plan.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

Yes, you are required to wear a face covering for any appointment or scan within the hospital or with your midwife in the community. When you arrive at the hospital you will be supplied with a disposable surgical face mask.

You do not need to wear a face mask when you are in labour or admitted to a ward, but should wear a face mask when in public areas of the hospital. You should also ensure you are wearing a mask when a member of staff comes into your room.

Birth partners must wear a disposable surgical face mask at all times.

You and your support person will be asked to follow these measures at all times. If a birthing partner does not follow these measures they will be asked to leave, unless they are exempt for medical reasons.

I am worried about my baby’s movements; can I still come into hospital?

Yes. Access to urgent midwifery care remains the same. If you have any concerns about you or your baby, such as change in movements, vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, please call maternity triage as soon as possible on 01892 633500. If you need to attend the antenatal ward or triage area, a midwife will explain the visitor arrangements for your birth partner when you speak to them before your arrival.

You will be invited in for assessment if necessary, even if you are unwell or isolating.

What happens if I am contacted by NHS Track and Trace and told to isolate?

If you have received a notification from NHS Track and Trace and been told to isolate, you must do so. If you are due to attend a face-to-face appointment with a midwife or doctor you must not attend. In this instance, please contact the relevant area to re-arrange your appointment for when your isolation period ends or to arrange a telephone appointment instead.

  • Midwifery liaison for community midwifery appointments- 01892 633488/638158
  • Ultrasound appointments – Maidstone 01622 224241 or Tunbridge Wells  01892 633043
  • Antenatal clinic appointments- Maidstone 01622 224293 or Tunbridge Wells 01892 638035

If you are in labour or have any concerns about you or your baby it is important you still phone maternity triage on 01892 633500 – inform them you are isolating during this call.

My child has been sent home from school/nursery and told to isolate, what advice do I follow?

If your child does not have any symptoms of Covid-19, the adults in the households do not need to isolate, meaning you can still attend any appointment. You should not, however, have any visitors to your home.

If your child has symptoms of Covid-19 you must follow government guidance on household isolation which can be found on the gov.uk website

My birth partner is isolating/has Covid-19 symptoms can they still attend hospital and be with me while I am in labour?

If your birth partner has Covid-19 symptoms, they should arrange a PCR swab as soon as possible. Visit https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test for more information.

If your partner has tested positive for Covid-19 or has been told to isolate and you are in labour, please call the maternity department on 01892 633500 in order to make an individualised plan.

My birth partner or a member of my household is awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test; can I still come into the hospital if I am in labour or due for induction of labour or an elective caesarean?

You should call the maternity department on 01892 633500 to make them aware that you are part of household isolation in order to make an individualised plan with you. In most cases you will still be advised to attend, however the rest of your household should remain in isolation until the swab result is known.

What happens if I have symptoms of Covid-19 and I am due to come into the hospital either because I am in labour or due for induction of labour or an elective caesarean?

If you have Covid-19 symptoms or have received a positive test result prior to your admission, you should call the maternity department as soon as possible on 01892 633500. An individual plan of care will be made with you and the risks and benefits discussed in full so an informed choice can be made as to whether to delay your admission.

The safety of you and your baby is paramount and a decision to delay your procedure would only be made if the risk of complications of Covid-19 are higher than continuing with your induction or surgery.

If I develop symptoms of Covid-19 whilst I’m an inpatient will my care change?

If you are suspected of having Covid-19 or test positive you will be cared for in our dedicated area on delivery suite. This helps us to keep all our patients safe whilst you are an inpatient. All of our rooms are single occupancy so you are not at any additional risk if you are cared for in this dedicated area.

Will I be tested for Covid-19 when I come into hospital either because I am in labour or due for induction of labour or an elective caesarean?

All inpatients are asked to have a Covid-19 test on admission and again after five days if you are still in hospital. This is a swab that is taken from your nose and throat. The results are available within 24-48 hours so you may not receive the result until you are discharged.

Do I or my partner need to carry out a regular Covid-19 testing?

Twice weekly rapid testing is now available to everybody. You and your birth partner are advised to take up this opportunity during your pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed.

Apart from scan appointments, you will also need to carry out a Covid-19 test within the 24 hour period before attending any other appointment as you will be asked to provide proof of a negative test result before attending.  If you would like your birth partner to accompany you to your appointment, they also need to carry out a test within the 24 hour period before your appointment. For details on how you can get a lateral flow test kit or testing please visit – https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

While we encourage pregnant women to regularly carry out a lateral flow test during their pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed, you will still be able to attend your scan appointment if you do not carry out a test.

Can I have the Covid-19 vaccine if I am pregnant?

All pregnant women can now be considered for the Covid-19 vaccination. For more information, please speak to your GP, midwife or obstetrician.

More information:

As information changes so rapidly during this time, we advise you to use reputable sources for information such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Public Health England as these websites are regularly updated with government issued advice.

If you have a question about your pregnancy or baby, contact your community midwife on 01892 633488 / 638158.

For urgent enquiries, phone our maternity triage on 01892 633500 / 634664.

For Covid-19 (Coronavirus) related questions or concerns please email: mtw-tr.maternitycovid19@nhs.net – we will respond as soon as possible. Please do not email any urgent clinical concerns as there may be a delay in replying.

 

Self-referral

Unfortunately, due to increased demand on our maternity services Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend out of area referrals for the next three months as of Monday 24 May 2021.

Pregnancy and planning for the arrival of your baby is an exciting time so we understand this news will be disappointing for many women and we are very sorry, however this action is necessary to ensure the safety of the women and families we care for.

We will continue to support anyone who already has an appointment to meet with the maternity team to discuss their care up to and including Sunday 23 May 2021.

Other birthing choices available in Kent and Medway can be found on the Bump Birth and Beyond website – https://kentandmedwaylms.nhs.uk/ If you live outside of these areas then please visit your local NHS Trust’s website to see what other options are available to you.

We would like to reassure you that our decision will be kept under regular review and we will inform you of any changes at the earliest opportunity.

If you are unsure whether you live in MTW’s maternity services catchment area, please contact the midwifery booking team – mtw-tr.maternityselfreferral@nhs.net

If you live in MTW’s catchment area please click here to be taken to our self-referral form.

Once again we thank you for your patience and understanding as well as your support over the recent months.

Symptoms and Self-isolation

The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with symptoms have at least 1 of these.

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. This is why everyone is advised to get tested regularly.

Find out about regular rapid COVID-19 tests if you do not have symptoms

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19:

  1. Get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible. Click here for more information or to book a PCR test
  2. You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test

Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.

Please read the Stay at Home guidance from Public Health England if you:

  • have symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19, including those who are waiting for a test
  • have received a positive COVID-19 test result (whether or not you have symptoms)
  • are currently live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 symptoms, or with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

Face Coverings

You and your birth partner are required to wear a face covering for any appointment or scan within the hospital or with your midwife in the community. As per hospital policy, this should be a hospital supplied disposable surgical grade mask.

You do not need to wear a face mask when you are in labour or admitted to a ward, but should wear a face mask when in public areas of the hospital. You should also ensure you are wearing a mask when a member of staff comes into your room.

Birth partners must wear a surgical grade face mask at all times.

You and your support person will be asked to follow these measures at all times. Non-compliance will result in your birth partner being asked to leave, unless they are exempt for medical reasons.

 

Hand Hygiene

It is incredibly important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This reduces the chance of transmitting the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) amongst surfaces and your mouth, nose and eyes. Try to remember not to touch your face and wash your hands before and after eating.

The poster below gives you a guide to thorough handwashing.

Visiting Policy during the Covid-19 Outbreak - Updated 7/5/2021

Maternity Departments

We are pleased to announce that our visitor policy for birth partners has been relaxed further so pregnant women can be supported throughout their pregnancy.

The changes mean your nominated birth partner is now able to leave Tunbridge Wells Hospital and return at a later time, or the following day, throughout all stages of labour as well as during your stay on the postnatal ward. Please note, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic, once a birth partner has been chosen you cannot change who they are.

A wristband will be given to your birth partner when they arrive at the hospital to support you. The wristband proves the person has been with you previously. They must not remove it or give it to another person as they must show it to staff at the main entrance when they return to the hospital. Entry is also subject to a temperature check being carried out by staff on the door. All birth partners are expected to observe social distancing measures and wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask at all times whilst in the hospital – unless they are exempt or there is a clinical reason for them not to wear a mask.

If you need to attend the antenatal ward or triage area, a midwife will clarify the visitor arrangements for your birth partner when you speak to them before your arrival.

If you are an inpatient on the antenatal ward and you are not in early labour or being induced, your birth partner can visit you between 4pm and 5pm daily.

We are delighted to be able to welcome partners back to all maternity scans and outpatient appointments at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as well as our birth centres in Maidstone and Crowborough.

Partners are required to have a lateral flow test within the last 24 hours before the appointment. A step-by-step guide on how to get hold of a lateral flow test kit, how to perform the test and how to register the results can be found online by visiting www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.

Once your partner has registered their test result, please ensure they take a screen shot of it or show a confirmatory email as they will need to show this as proof of a negative test result when they attend your appointment. If you and your partner have already received an appointment for a test to be carried out at one of MTW’s Covid testing centres you are welcome to still attend the appointment if you wish.  If you have already received notification of your swab booking and wish to cancel please email mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net to request a cancellation.  Please include your full name and the date of swab.

When you arrive for your appointment at the hospital’s or birth centre’s main entrance:

  • You and your partner will have your temperatures taken by a staff member
  • You will be asked to show the text / screenshot / email confirming that your partner is Covid-19 negative
  • You will both be required to wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask or a visor  – unless you are medically exempt or there is a clinical reason for you not to wear a mask.
  • You will be asked to make your way to the waiting area where social distancing measures will be in place – please observe them. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, children are not allowed to attend your appointment with you and will not be permitted.

If your partner has tested positive then we expect them to follow national guidance and isolate at home.

While we encourage pregnant women to regularly carry out a lateral flow test during their pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed, you will still be able to attend your appointment if you do not carry out a test.

If you test positive ahead of your hospital or birth centre appointment, please let your midwife know and await advice on what to do next.

To help keep our staff, patients and visitors safe from the virus, social distancing measures have been introduced at some venues. To help reduce the number of people in the waiting room areas you and your partner may be asked to wait in your car until a midwife invites you in to the building. Please refrain from waiting outside entrance doors so other women and their partners can enter and exit the building safely.

Twice weekly rapid testing is now available to everybody. You and your birth partner are advised to take up this opportunity during your pregnancy. For details on obtaining Lateral Flow Test (LFT) kits or testing please visit –  https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Please be aware that all pregnant women can now be considered for the Covid-19 vaccination. For more information, please speak to your GP, midwife or obstetrician.

We are currently working on plans in partnership with other NHS partners, to welcome birth partners to antenatal appointments in other settings such as GP surgeries and children’s centres. Details will be announced as soon as these are in place.

The maternity service is grateful for your support and would like to thank you and your birth partner for observing the safety methods that have been in place during the pandemic to help keep patients, visitors and our staff safe from the virus.

Changes to antenatal care

Some of your antenatal appointments may be performed over the phone. Your midwife will be able to answer any of your questions related to pregnancy and will advise you when you will be seen face to face.

Please ensure your contact details are up date as we will need to contact you. Please be aware that calls from the Trust will be made from a withheld number and due to the volume of calls that we will need to make will only try to contact you twice. If you think you have missed a call from us, please contact your midwife.

If you have urgent clinical concerns please contact Maternity Triage as normal.

Infant feeding advice- Updated 21st April

Breastfeeding Drop-ins

Due to the introduction of social distancing measures, the drop in clinics for breastfeeding support have been suspended. You can still access practical advice from the Kent and Medway Beside You website as well as more information on our Infant Feeding page. If you have any concerns around infant feeding please use the email below:                                   

mtw-tr.infant-feeding-specialists@nhs.net

Please note: that emails will be checked regularly but may not be responded to straightaway, so for any urgent concerns please speak to your midwife or maternity triage.

Colostrum collection

We are still offering a colostrum collection service so please ask your midwife about your suitability and for a colostrum collection pack. We have a video you can watch for more information and a practical demonstration here.

Tongue tie Service

The Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Tongue tie service has been temporarily suspended during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. We would urge you to visit the Unicef Baby Friendly website as well as Kent and Medway Beside You for any breastfeeding advice.

Remember to ALWAYS contact a health professional in an emergency

 

Breastfeeding

There is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases. There are numerous live constituents in human milk, including immunoglobulins, antiviral factors, cytokines and leucocytes that help to destroy harmful pathogens and boost the baby’s immune system. There is no evidence at this time that Covid19 can be passed through breastmilk. Therefore, considering the protection that human milk and breastfeeding offers the baby and the minimal role they play in the transmission of respiratory viruses, it seems sensible to do all we can to continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. (UNICEF BFI March 2020)

To help breastfeeding be successful, we recommend that mothers and babies should stay together as much as possible; to have skin-to-skin contact; to feed their baby responsively and have to on-going support when this is needed (see online resources on our Facebook page). When you choose to mixed feed, we are encouraging them to maximise the amount of breast milk they are able to give, or if you choose, to be supported to return to full breastfeeding.

Maximising breastmilk video

Maximising Breastmilk and Re-lactation Guidance

Formula feeding

We encourage you to continue adhering to current guidance on washing and sterilising equipment. We also encourage you to bottle feed responsively, including pacing feeds and limiting the number of people who feed your baby.

 

Practical information for parents if they have Covid-19 and are caring for their baby

If parents/carers have Covid-19, please take precautions to limit the spread of Covid-19 to the baby by:

▪ Washing hands thoroughly before and after contact with the baby.

▪ Routinely cleaning and disinfecting any surfaces touched.

▪ Cleaning any infant feeding equipment, including breast pumps, bottles and teats thoroughly before and after use.

▪ Practicing respiratory hygiene, including during feeding, for example by avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby and by wearing a face mask or suitable alternative if available.

▪ Parents should take care to avoid falling asleep with their baby, see our information on Co-sleeping and SIDS, Safer sleep for babies

Sleep and night time resources from Unicef

Supporting close and loving relationships

Regardless of feeding method, it is essential that babies’ needs for emotional attachment with their parents/primary caregiver continue as normal. Keeping your baby close and responding to their need for food, love and comfort are all essential for babies’ health, wellbeing and development. In addition, this will enhance your mental wellbeing in the postnatal period.

Adapted from UNICEF BFI Statement April 2020  ‘ INFANT FEEDING DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK’

Contact Us

We are receiving a large volume of calls so please use the most appropriate contact method for your need.

If you have an urgent clinical concern please contact Maternity Triage: 01892 633500– available 24 hours 7 days a week.

To contact your community midwife please call Midwifery Liaison: 01892 633488/638158– available Monday-Friday 0800-1630

We have set up a dedicated email address for all of your Covid-19 (Coronavirus) questions, concerns or queries. This email is checked regularly and we will respond as soon as possible. Email: mtw-tr.maternitycovid19@nhs.net Please do not email urgent clinical concerns as there may be a delay in reply.