Health and wellbeing blogs

Giving birth and staying in hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pregnancy, particularly in the lead up to giving birth, is generally a time of great excitement for women and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new level of anxiety and concern for pregnant women about what this means for their health and wellbeing and that of their baby. Our midwife Zoe Islip explains what women can expect at hospital.

3 Apr 2020

Giving birth and staying in hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic 

The first questions pregnant women want answered are whether they are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and if they are at higher risk of severe illness, and any implications to their baby. Get all of these details in our pregnancy and breastfeeding advice.

The next thought, naturally, goes to what this means for women when they come to hospital to give birth. Some of the media reports around this topic have raised some concerns as well.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The risk of contracting COVID-19 while you are in a maternity ward is low. 
  • All of our doctors and caregivers, including midwives and nurses, are screened before they start work and will not care for you or your baby if they are unwell. 
  • Everyone involved in caring for you and your baby carefully follow strict hygiene practices so that you have a safe and positive experience in our care. 
  • If there are any changes to your maternity care, we will get in touch directly and speak with you about what it means.
So firstly, what has changed:

1. Visitors

We are reducing the number of visitors in our hospitals as a part of our COVID-19 precautions. This is to help keep everyone within our hospitals safe.

This includes maternity patients.

You can have one visitor, or support person, with you when you come into hospital to give birth. 

In our private hospitals, the same person can stay with you for the duration of your stay including overnight. In our public hospitals your support person cannot stay with you overnight, as is the usual process.

2. Parent education

Face-to-face parent education classes are no longer running to minimise visitors and large gatherings in our hospitals to help keep our patients safe.

We are well advanced in developing alternative online parent education resources, including webinars, to provide pregnant women and their partners with additional education and support ahead of birth.  We will advise you via email in the coming weeks what these arrangements are.

What else to expect:

The same, high level of care

Throughout your pregnancy you will continue to receive the same, high level of care to support you and your baby in the lead up to birth. This includes appointments with your obstetrician and midwives, which may be done face-to-face or via telephone or video conference.

You should continue to attend all of your antenatal appointments so that we can support your health and wellbeing at this time.

Birth

We are ready and waiting to care for you when you give birth. All of our birth services are still running as normal so that you can give birth vaginally or via caesarean section, planned or emergency. 

There is no evidence that the way you give birth will change your risks of contracting COVID-19.

Follow the instructions from your obstetrician or midwives and, as is our normal process, call ahead if you think you are in labour or have any concerns.

You do not need to wait at home for any longer than directed. 

The safest place for you to give birth continues to be in hospital where we have all the equipment and expertise to help welcome your baby into the world, and provide extra support to your baby if they need it.

Postnatal care

You can also expect to receive the same high level of care from your obstetrician and our midwives after birth.

This includes breastfeeding and early parenting support, neonatal services and care for your health and wellbeing.

Our breastfeeding and early parenting support in particular is very important to help you settle in with your newborn when you do go home.

You can choose to go home early. If you do, we will make sure you are connected with community based support so that you can get the ongoing care you and your baby might need.

Other concerns?

If you have any concerns or worries please speak to your obstetrician or our midwives. This is an unprecedented time so we know you are likely to have more questions or concerns.

We want to provide all the information and care you need during pregnancy, birth and after birth, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Zoe Islip
Zoe Islip Clinical Coordinator for maternity services and midwife

About the Author

Zoe Islip is the St John of God Health Care Maternity Reference Group Coordinator. She is an experienced midwife and worked in all aspects of maternity care including breastfeeding, birth, antenatal and postnatal care and parent education. She was named Catholic Health Australia’s Emerging Leader Award in 2017 for her leadership role in delivering excellence in midwifery services.