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

3 April 2020: ALERT LEVEL 4. Advice may change as required www.huttmaternity.org.nz 

 

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

Recommendations from the UK suggest that women above 28 weeks’ gestation should be especially careful about physical distancing and minimising contact with others.

If you are a healthcare professional you should consider working non-clinically where possible, to avoid anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce unnecessary social contact.  

Essential workers can seek advice from Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

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. 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.
  • 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.
  • To reduce people in the clinic, please wait outside (on the chairs provided) or in your car until we contact you by phone.
  • 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, 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.

Visitors and support people

For the safety of you, your baby, your whanāu, and our teams, our routine care has been changed to protect everyone. This includes restricting your visitors and support people.

Maternity:   You can choose one person to support you for labour and birth of your baby. During COVID-19 alert level 4, no visitors (including support people) will be permitted on the postnatal ward. If your support person has any signs of illness, they will not be able in the hospital to support you

SCBU:             To protect vulnerable babies, visiting in special care baby unit (SCBU) has reduced to only the mother of the baby during COVID-19 alert level 4.

Our staff, and hospital teams are all aware of how difficult this is for you. We encourage the use of video calls with your whānau and friends. Speak to our staff if you need some assistance to stay connected while in hospital.

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  

  • All pregnant women, regardless of gestation, should observe physical distancing; this means avoiding social gatherings and public places (including children’s birthday parties, visiting playgrounds etc).
  • Try to work from home, or isolate yourself at work as much as possible to allow less contact (aim for less than 15 minutes contact and remain 2 metres away from others—especially after 28 weeks’ gestation).
  • Practice safe hygiene: practice hand washing regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth; if you do, wash your hands straight after.
  • Cough and sneeze into your inner elbow.
  • Avoid contact with people who are unwell i.e. high temperature, coughing and breathing problems.
  • If suspected or confirmed COVID-19, do not attend Birthing Suite, MAU or community midwife clinic; instead please inform your maternity carer, MAU / Birthing Suite, and they will advise you of your next appointment after assessment.
  • If suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and feeling unwell, please inform the ambulance and maternity staff of your suspicious or confirmed diagnosis.
  • If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, please use a mask at all times, especially whilst breastfeeding.

 

Kia kaha