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Advice for people who are pregnant and having a baby in the Hutt Valley region

Alert level 2 update

Kia ora,

This is an unsettling time for many, especially if you are pregnant. As a team, Hutt Maternity wants to help you understand what the COVID-19 pandemic may mean for you, your baby and your whānau.

Being pregnant does not appear to make you more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. Despite this, pregnant people are categorised as being in the high-risk group as a precaution. We expect that most people who contract the virus will have very mild symptoms only. Those with other medical or pregnancy issues, such as asthma or diabetes, may be more susceptible to contracting the virus and may become more unwell if this happens. Information regarding COVID-19 for pregnant women, or those who have recently given birth, is also available on the Ministry of Health website.

We have included some important information below to help you keep safe and understand what COVID-19 may mean for you during your pregnancy.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:     

  • Temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

     

    Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have COVID-19, as the symptoms are very similar to other illnesses such as a cold or influenza (the ‘flu). If you have concerns, stay at home, and:

  • Get information from COVID-19.govt.nz 
  • Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 
  • Call your GP (telephone discussion now mandatory before visiting in person)
  • If you believe you are symptomatic do not come into a birthing suite, assessment clinic or your LMC’s clinic
  • If feeling unwell when arriving at hospital, let staff know.

Spread

The virus is spread through the air (by droplets) through coughing, sneezing and close personal contact with others who are infected (even if they feel well). It can also spread by touching or shaking hands; touching an object or surface with infected droplets (such as door handles, surfaces, kitchen utensils etc.) or faeces (poo or pohehe), then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands. 

Pregnancy risks

COVID-19 does not appear to increase the risk of miscarriage.

Some cases of premature/early birth (before 37 weeks), have been seen worldwide. This could be because of early intervention from doctors in caring for a severely unwell mothers.

At this time, there is only small number of cases worldwide where babies have developed the virus after birth. Some transmission may have occurred immediately after birth. Because of this it is difficult to confirm whether the COVID-19 virus can be passed to your baby during pregnancy.

It is important that you continue to stay well during your pregnancy, to reduce risk of contracting COVID-19. Flu and whooping cough vaccinations in pregnancy are recommended. Ask your maternity provider, LMC/Community Midwife if you are suitable. 

Pregnant people from 28 weeks’ gestation onwards, or earlier if other medical issues

Pregnant women in their third trimester (from 28 weeks’ gestation) should take extra precautions and keep themselves well at a time when the growing baby means higher oxygen demands on the mother. If you are more than 28 weeks pregnant you should take extra care to avoid COVID-19.

If you are working, you should discuss and agree with your employer a plan to ensure you’re able to do your job safely, particularly during your last trimester. It is recommended that women in their third trimester not work where there is a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19, such as some healthcare settings.

Advice can be found on the Ministry of Health Covid-19 website workplace advice during pregnancy.

 

Pregnancy care

If you have no COVID-19 symptoms, and no complications in any past pregnancies, the following advice may be helpful:

  • If you have any concerns, contact your midwife (as usual), but please note they may take longer than usual to get back to you. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
  • If you have an urgent pregnancy-related problems (not related to COVID-19), please contact your LMC/Community Midwife or Hutt Valley Birthing Suite on 04 5697535.

Clinic appointments

  • Your clinic appointments may be reduced, until you are 37 weeks pregnant. Your LMC/Community midwife or the hospital clinic will let you know the date of your next appointment. Some appointments may be made by phone or video call. Ensure your phone number is correct with your LMC / Community Midwife.
  • It is important you still attend your antenatal visits, even if it is by telephone or video call.
  • Please attend clinic appointments on your own, your support person can wait outside (if needed). Let us know if you would like a support person on the phone during your appointment. Unless arranged before your appointment (if you are breastfeeding) do not bring children 12 years or under to your appointment. 
  • Attend appointments by private transport where possible.
  • If you have had an appointment cancelled or delayed and are not sure of what to do next, contact your LMC, Community Midwife or hospital clinic and let them know by using the contact numbers provided to you at booking.
  • For appointments in the community, your LMC/Community midwife may wear a mask during your appointment (if necessary), and ask for other members of your household not to be present during the appointment.

    If you have a pregnancy-related issue or concern and symptoms of possible COVID-19, please:

  • Call your LMC/Community Midwife or Birthing Suite on 04 5697535.
  • Please do not come to the hospital, or your clinic appointment without contacting us first. You may be advised to stay at home.

Labour and birth

Our Birthing Suite remains open 24 hours a day. If you are well and suitable to birth at home, your LMC/Community Midwife may discuss this with you. 

If you are unwell, you will be asked to wear a mask, and your your care may be provided in a different area of the hospital.

Please advise your LMC/Community Midwife or Birthing Suite on 04 5697535 before arrival.

After your baby is born

After your baby is born, the midwifery and nursing team will support you to care for your new baby and prepare to go home.

Once home, you will still have appointments with your midwife or doctor. However, as we are trying to reduce face to face contact, these appointments may happen over the phone, or via video.

Visitors and support people

Once you are in labour, ring your Lead Maternity Carer (midwife or doctor) to arrange your admission. They’ll run through some screening questions with you and work with hospital staff to make arrangements for your arrival.

Support people

You’ll be asked to choose one person to support you during labour, birth and your stay in hospital after your baby is born.

To keep everyone safe, this person will also be screened. If your support person is unwell they will not be able to enter delivery suite, so consider carefully who you would like to take their place. The person who comes into the delivery suite with you will not be able to trade places with anyone else. This person will be allowed to visit you once you are transferred to the maternity ward.

We’ll also be asking support people to follow Alert Level 2 precautions such as ensuring that hands are washed and physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained.

This person will be able to stay to support you as for as long as you are in labour (for up to two hours after the birth of your baby).  During the time that your support person is visiting you, we ask that they remain with you as much as possible to reduce movement of people around, and in and out, of the ward. They should not use your bathroom but use the visitor bathroom outside the ward entrance.

Your support people are welcome to bring light meals.

Your support person will be able to accompany you to the ward if it is within the Level 2 visiting hours of 2.30pm-8pm

These measures help us reduce the amount of people on our wards. This helps us to protect women, babies and our staff.

 

Visiting

We know that having a baby is a wonderful and exciting experience that you want to share. However, to minimise the risk of infection entering the hospital no visitors, except your nominated support person, can visit while you are staying in hospital.


SCBU

Both parents will be able to visit babies in our special care baby unit (SCBU). Parents must visit one at a time to ensure safe distancing can be maintained between visitors in SCBU.

Our staff can work with you to facilitate other ways to keep connected with other loved ones virtually.

These measures may seem tough, but they need to be. We need to do everything we can to keep you and your baby safe. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Please remember that all District Health Board campuses are SmokeFree.

 

Breastfeeding

It is safe to breastfeed, even if you or your baby has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. It is recommended that you wash your hands before and after breastfeeding, and wear a facemask whilst breastfeeding, to stop droplet transfer.

The Ministry of Health published new advice for parents on breastfeeding and COVID-19.

General advice

For current information around isolation, follow New Zealand Government advice on COVID-19.govt.nz  

Remember to:

  • keep two metres from people you don’t know and who can’t easily be contact traced when out and about e.g. supermarkets and other retail outlets, shopping malls, parks, and playgrounds
  • keep one metre from people you don’t live with or aren’t family/whānau and close friends but where a contact tracing register is kept e.g. work, marae, church, clubs/groups and recreation
  • use your judgement about any risks to you or people you live with, your family/whānau and close friends who you have close physical contact with and remember the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
  • put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
  • wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
  • don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs
  • stay home if you feel unwell and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453
  • get your free flu vaccination to reduce your risk of influenza (flu vaccine reduces risk of influenza but is not effective against COVID-19).

Kia kaha