Visiting our maternity department – what you can expect | News and events

  1. Contrast:

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Visiting our maternity department – what you can expect

Update to maternity visiting guidance – from Monday, 5 October

From Monday, 5 October, there will be some changes to the visiting guidance to the maternity department at The Princess Alexandra Hospital. The guidance has been updated to ensure that we can provide women with the best possible experience during their pregnancy, while protecting women, babies, their families and staff in these very difficult times.

Changes to visiting guidance to the maternity department

Labour and birth
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have consistently supported women in active labour to have their birthing partner present.

From Monday, 5 October women’s chosen birthing partner can attend from the start of the birthing process and all other assessments which are undertaken in an individual room on our consultant-led and midwifery-led units.

For women who start labour at home

If a woman goes into labour at home, calls ahead and then goes to the unit, she will be assessed in a single room and therefore her partner/birth supporter can join her for that assessment. Some pregnant women will be advised to go home again because they may still be in early labour (latent phase), but if a pregnant woman is admitted because she is in active labour then her partner/birth supporter will go with her to the single birthing room either in the labour ward or on the birthing unit.

For women who are induced

As inductions begin in a shared area, it is not possible for us to maintain a safe environment if birth partners were to attend at this time.  

As soon as women are transferred into a single room on the consultant-led unit or midwifery-led unit to have their care continued, their birth partner can attend.

Scan appointments
We are committed from Monday 5 October to ensuring that a woman’s partner or chosen support person can attend the anomaly scan (offered between 18 and 21 weeks, and known as the 20-week scan). Previously, during the COVID-19 pandemic, women have attended this scan unaccompanied.

If successful, we will look at the practicalities of extending this to all scans at our maternity department. Unfortunately it will not be possible for children to attend, and chosen supporters must comply with the safety measures in place.

We have been working in partnership with East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust to ensure a consistent approach to visiting which keeps women safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Our approach has been developed in collaboration with the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), which is made up of a group of women and their families who provide a voice for the women who use the maternity services.

Please read the below frequently asked questions for advice about what you can expect at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT).

The statement setting out the full guidance across the Hertfordshire and West Essex Local Maternity and Neonatal System can be accessed here.

Frequently asked questions

Should I continue to keep all my appointments that I have booked?

Yes, it’s important to keep all of your appointments, as they are often booked at a specific time in your pregnancy.

Can I have someone with me at scans other than the 20-week scan?

Under the new guidance, you are only able to bring one other person with you to your 20-week scan at this time. This is subject to review on an ongoing basis to ensure that we continue to adhere to social distancing guidance.

Are there any changes to the Maternal and Fetal Assessment Unit and Antenatal Clinic?

There are no changes at present, however we are continually reviewing our processes.

If there are complications when having my scan, can someone come in to be with me if they are waiting nearby or can be there very quickly?

Yes, they can. We understand how important it is to have the support you need at a difficult time. We will speak to you if there are complications when having your scan about how someone can join you in the room.

If I’m induced, can my birth partner attend from the start of the induction?

As inductions begin in a shared area, it is not possible for us to maintain a safe environment if birth partners were to attend at this time.  

As soon as you are transferred into a single room on the consultant-led unit or midwifery-led unit to have your care continued, your birth partner can attend.

Can I have my birth partner with me for a caesarean section?

When you are admitted for an elective caesarean section, you will initially go to a ward to be prepared for theatre. As soon as you are transferred to the consultant-led unit, your partner can attend and stay with you in theatre, and afterwards in recovery until you transfer to the postnatal ward.

Can my birth partner stay with me after the birth?

Birth partners can stay with you after the birth until you transfer to the postnatal ward.

At the moment, it is not possible for us to maintain safe social distancing in ward areas if partners attend. But you will not be alone – our staff have the expertise to look after you, and other women who have just had babies will be sharing this space with you at a safe, social distance.

Can I swap the person I have with me?

To maintain a safe environment for you, all other women and the staff caring for you, it must be the same person throughout your scan or birth.

Why do some hospitals have different rules?

Each hospital has different maternity facilities, with different sizes and layouts and this is why some hospitals can safely allow people to accompany women at different scans and stages of birth.

We are continually looking at how we can make positive changes for women, babies and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety is our absolute priority and as COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who show no symptoms, we must take all appropriate measures to protect women, babies, their families and our staff.  

We absolutely understand the difficulties and distress that you may feel about the restrictions to visiting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will keep the guidance under review and we thank you for your understanding and support during this unprecedented time.

Inpatient comment:

The staff and care have been excellent. They have made sure I have felt comfortable, secure and safe. They are wonderful and exemplary in their commitment.