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

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Visiting our maternity department – what you can expect

Update to maternity visiting guidance - from 31 May

There have been some changes to the visiting guidance to the maternity department at The Princess Alexandra Hospital. The guidance has been updated in line with the Government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions.

The changes will ensure that we can provide women with the best possible experience during their pregnancy, while continuing to protect women, babies, their families and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

The main updates are:

  • From Monday, 31 May, visiting hours for maternity will be changing. Visiting times will now be from 1pm to 5pm for a named partner, who must  provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test. The areas that this will apply to are the antenatal ward, postnatal ward and the postnatal area in the birthing unit.
  • For women who have appointments in the Maternal and Fetal Assessment Unit, partners are now able to accompany them, with evidence of a negative lateral flow test.
  • As previously, women can be joined by their partner on Labour Ward.
  • Currently, children are not allowed to attend any appointments or visiting within the maternity unit.

Completing a lateral flow test before visiting the maternity department

A woman, her partner or chosen support person will be asked to take a COVID-19 test (lateral flow test) before coming to the maternity department for antenatal clinic scans, appointments and when visiting the Early Pregnancy Unit – the test result must be negative before entering.

Take a look at the Government website to see where you can locally access lateral flow testing kits.

Once you have uploaded your lateral flow test result via the Government website, you will receive a text message with your test results. Please keep this message to show one of our team when you arrive at the department.

If you need to attend a short notice appointment, we have a COVID-19 swabbing pod at the hospital that is open from Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. To make a swab appointment, please email paht.fawsswabbingteam@nhs.net. You will need to complete an online form that allows us to upload your results.

The COVID-19 swabbing pod is located towards the back of the hospital, opposite the Eye Unit (building 8). It is a small grey portacabin with a maternity and NICU sign.

Please note that the lateral flow test is voluntary, however if you decline to have a test, your support partner will only be allowed into the Labour Ward and Birthing Unit during labour.


Visiting guidance to the maternity department

Please adhere to the following guidance whilst visiting our maternity department:

  • All visitors must wash or sanitise their hands before and after visiting relatives
  • Visitors must be over the over the age of 16 – children are not allowed
  • Please do not enter the hospital if you feel unwell
  • If you have a high temperature or new cough please return home and self-isolate
  • Wear a fluid resistant facemask at all times – you may be asked to wear additional protective equipment if required. 
  • Remain on the ward during the visiting period, unless they need to use the toilet facilities.
  • Use toilets allocated for the public and visitors only – please keep your mask on during this time.
  • Please do not sit on the patient bed
  • Please do not visit any other patients that may be cared for at the hospital
  • Visitors must not bring in food parcels, flowers, helium balloons or similar items
  • Adhere to allocated visiting time
  • Be respectful to our teams at all times
     

Frequently asked questions

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

Scan appointments

A woman’s partner or chosen support person can attend the 12-week scan, the 20-week scan, the anomaly scan and antenatal appointments.

A woman, her partner or chosen support person will be asked to take a COVID-19 test (lateral flow test) before coming to the maternity department – the test result must be negative. Take a look at the Government website to see where you can locally access lateral flow testing kits.

Unfortunately, it remains not possible for children to attend, and chosen supporters must comply with the safety measures in place.

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

Women’s chosen birthing partner can continue to attend from the start of the birthing process and all other assessments that 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.

 

Frequently asked questions

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

Yes, it is 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?

A woman’s partner or chosen support person can attend all scans and face to face antenatal appointments.

A woman, her partner or chosen support person will need to take a COVID-19 test (lateral flow test) before coming to the maternity department – the test result must be negative. Take a look at the Government website to see where you can locally collect  lateral flow testing kits.

If I am 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. Your partner can visit the postnatal ward (from Wednesday 14 April) during an allocated visiting time.

At the moment, it is not possible for us to maintain safe social distancing in ward areas if all partners attend at the same time. However, 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 further positive changes for women, babies and their families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety is our absolute priority and we must take all appropriate measures to protect women, babies, their families and our staff.  

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.

We thank you for your understanding and support.

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.