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COVID-19 update

Maternity services

This information was updated and is correct as of 13 September 2021

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) we have introduced restrictions guided by NHS England to maintain the safety of all mothers and babies, this includes being able to ensure we can maintain social distancing in our waiting areas, appointment and delivery rooms. Please see the details below.

We understand this is a difficult time for expectant mothers and families. We will continue to keep this guidance under careful review, in line with the national advice from the Chief Midwifery Officer for England to ensure everyone's safety. If you have any questions please speak to your midwife.

Thank you for your understanding during this challenging time. 

On this page you can find information about:

  • Guidance around face masks
  • Scans at St Michael's Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston)
  • Labour and birth at St Michael's Hospital
  • Labour and birth at Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston)
  • Home births
  • Appointments at St Michael's Hospital
  • Appointments at Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston)
  • Visiting for maternity patients at St Michael's Hospital
  • Alternative COVID-19 vaccination
  • NHS volunteer responders scheme
  • Maternity Services app
  • Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP)

Guidance on face masks at our healthcare services continues

Everyone accessing or visiting our healthcare services must continue to wear a face mask and follow social distancing rules from 19 July 2021.

The national guidance for healthcare settings remains unchanged. This means anyone coming into hospital before and after 19 July 2021 must continue to:

  • Clean your hands before entering and leaving the building and use the hand sanitiser outside each ward, department or area.
  • Wear a surgical face mask (unless exempt from doing so) which are available at all hospital entrances. Guidance around exemptions is available on the  Government website. Please notify us on attendance if you are exempt from wearing a face mask. The Trust will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments, if appropriate.
  • Give others space. Continue to follow the maximum room and lift capacity advice.

These measures are important so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, and to help protect our staff and patients by reducing the risk of infection.

Thank you for helping us keep our patients, staff and community safe. 

Scans at St Michael's Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston):

You will be able to attend all scans with one non-symptomatic adult from the same household or support bubble (ideally the birth partner) but you must follow the instructions below. 

For appointments at our day assessment units at St Michael's Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre, please continue to attend these on your own to allow for social distancing. 

Please do not attend an appointment with any children.

If you are an accompanying partner coming to St Michael's you must wait outside of the hospital until you are called in (this is to ensure adequate social distancing in the waiting areas).

In Ashcombe Birth Centre in Weston General you can come into Ashcombe and wait with your partner in the waiting area on the unit.

  • You and your partner will both need to wear a surgical face mask (with the exception of those who are exempt) in our hospitals at all times. These are available as you enter the building. Guidance around face mask exemptions is available on the  Government website. Please notify us on attendance if you are exempt from wearing a face mask. The Trust will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments for you, if appropriate.
  • You must also use the hand gel at all entrances and exits.
  • You must not visit in any circumstances if you have a new continuous cough, high temperature or have a loss/change in your normal sense of smell or taste. For more information and guidance on coronavirus, please visit  www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
  • To provide safe and personalised maternity care and to enable support people's attendance at maternity appointments, a lateral flow antigen test is suggested. Women and their support partners are able to order tests online to self administer at home via the national portal. Pregnant women and their support people are advised to undertake testing twice weekly during pregnancy and test within 24 hours before an appointment. For more information or if you have any questions, please visit the Lateral flow antigen test for pregnant women and support people FAQs.

If you believe that you have additional needs that need to be taken into account please contact the Matron by calling switchboard on 0117 923 0000. Further details about scan appointments can be found on the   FAQs page.

Labour and birth at St Michael's Hospital

  • Two nominated non-symptomatic birthing partners who have tested negative for COVID-19 are allowed to be with you during labour and the birth. Your non-symptomatic partners/supporters will need to undertake a lateral flow test which will be provided and administered on arrival. These tests require a swab from the nose and it takes 30 minutes to provide a result. If the lateral flow test result comes back negative, the partners/supporters will be allowed to accompany you during labour and birth including induction, elective caesarean section and spontaneous labour.  If you give birth on the midwife led unit or central delivery suite and you and your baby are able to go home within 2-3 hours after giving birth, your partners/supporters will be able to stay with you until you and your baby leave.
  • If your baby needs to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), non-symptomatic parents can visit. Both parents can visit at the same time in each of our NICU areas (ICU rooms, the HDU and SCBU rooms).

If you have any questions or additional needs that need to be taken into account please speak to the Matron or your community midwife who will be happy to discuss this with you.

Labour and birth at Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston)

  • Two nominated non-symptomatic birthing partners who have tested negative for COVID-19 are allowed to be with you during labour and the birth. Your non-symptomatic partners/supporters will need to undertake a lateral flow test which will be provided and administered on arrival. These tests require a swab from the nose and it takes 30 minutes to provide a result. If the lateral flow test result comes back negative, the partners/supporters will be allowed to accompany you during labour and birth. If you and your baby are able to go home within 2-3 hours after giving birth, your partners/supporters will be able to stay with you until you and your baby leave.

If you have any questions or additional needs that need to be taken into account please speak to the Matron or your community midwife who will be happy to discuss this with you. 

Home births

Our home births service is still available where appropriate. Please speak to your midwife to discuss your options.

Appointments at St Michael's Hospital

You can be accompanied by one non-symptomatic person (ideally the birth partner) for all scans and consultant antenatal appointments (except in our day assessment units in St Michael's and Ashcombe Birth Centre in Weston, as space does not allow). Your accompanying partner must wait outside of the hospital until they are called in (this is to ensure adequate social distancing in the waiting areas). Please do not attend with any children.

  • You and your partner will both need to wear a surgical face mask (with the exception of those who are exempt) in our hospitals at all times. These are available as you enter the building. Guidance around face mask exemptions is available on the  Government website. Please notify us on attendance if you are exempt from wearing a face mask. The Trust will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments for you, if appropriate.
  • You must also use the hand gel at all entrances and exits.
  • You must not visit in any circumstances if you have a new continuous cough, high temperature or have a loss/change in your normal sense of smell or taste. For more information and guidance on coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus .
  • To provide safe and personalised maternity care and to support people's attendance at maternity appointments, a lateral flow antigen test is suggested. Women and their support partners are able to order tests online to self administer at home via the national portal. Pregnant women and their support people are advised to undertake testing twice weekly during pregnancy and test within 24 hours before an appointment. For more information or if you have any questions, please visit the Lateral flow antigen test for pregnant women and support people FAQs.
  • If you believe that you have additional needs that need to be taken into account please contact the Matron by calling switchboard on 0117 923 0000. Further details about scan appointments can be found on the  FAQs page.
  • For appointments at our day assessment units at St Michael's Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre, please continue to attend these appointments on your own to allow for social distancing. 
  • For fetal medicine and early pregnancy clinic appointments you can be accompanied by one non-symptomatic person.
  • Women will be offered telephone appointments where clinically appropriate.
  • Children are not allowed in clinic or on the wards.
  • Community midwifery clinics and home visits are still running as necessary; women are being assessed and only essential face-to-face visits are being undertaken. If you attend a community midwifery clinic, you can be accompanied by a supporting partner. (Please see point four for update around Lateral flow testing).
  • We regret that we're unable to offer antenatal classes or tours of the unit at the current time.

These measures have been put in place to protect our patients, staff and visitors, which includes being able to ensure we can maintain social distancing in our waiting areas, appointment and delivery rooms. We will continue to keep this guidance under review. 

Appointments at Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston)

You can be accompanied by one non-symptomatic person (ideally the birth partner) for all scans and consultant antenatal appointments (apart from our day assessment units, as space does not allow this). Please do not attend with any children. Your accompanying partner can come into Ashcombe and wait with you in the waiting area on the unit.  

  • You and your partner will both need to wear a surgical face mask (with the exception of those who are exempt) in our hospitals at all times. These are available as you enter the building. Guidance around face mask exemptions is available on the  Government website. Please notify us on attendance if you are exempt from wearing a face mask. The Trust will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments for you, if appropriate.
  • You must also use the hand gel at all entrances and exits.
  • You must not visit in any circumstances if you have a new continuous cough, high temperature or have a loss/change in your normal sense of smell or taste. For more information and guidance on coronavirus, please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus .
  • To provide safe and personalised maternity care and to support people's attendance at maternity appointments, a lateral flow antigen test is suggested. Women and their support partners are able to order tests online to self administer at home via the national portal. Pregnant women and their support people are advised to undertake testing twice weekly during pregnancy and test within 24 hours before an appointment. For more information or if you have any questions, please visit the Lateral flow antigen test for pregnant women and support people FAQs.
  • If you believe that you have additional needs that need to be taken into account please contact the matron by calling switchboard on 0117 923 0000.
  • For appointments at our day assessment units at St Michael's Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre, please continue to attend these appointments on your own to allow for social distancing.
  • For early pregnancy clinic appointments you can be accompanied by one non-symptomatic person.
  • Women will be offered telephone appointments where clinically appropriate.
  • Children are not allowed in clinic or on the wards.
  • Community midwifery clinics and home visits are still running as necessary; women are being assessed and only essential face-to-face visits are being undertaken. (Please see point 4 for update around Lateral flow testing).
  • We regret that we're unable to offer antenatal classes or tours of the unit at the current time.

These measures have been put in place to protect our patients, staff and visitors, which includes being able to ensure we can maintain social distancing in our waiting areas, appointment and delivery rooms. We will continue to keep this guidance under review.

Visiting for maternity patients at St Michael's Hospital

One named non-symptomatic partner/supporter can visit on the wards between 9am and 6pm.

Anyone coming into hospital must:

  • Clean your hands before entering and leaving the building and use the hand sanitiser outside each ward, department or area.
  • Wear a surgical face mask (unless exempt from doing so) which are available at all hospital entrances. Guidance around exemptions is available on the  Government website. Please notify us on attendance if you are exempt from wearing a face mask. The Trust will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments, if appropriate.
  • Give others space. Continue to follow the maximum room and lift capacity advice.

If you believe that you have additional needs that need to be taken into account please contact the matron or your community midwife who will be happy to discuss this with you.

Once transferred to the postnatal ward, free WiFi is available to everyone so patients can make phone or video calls to their family and friends using apps including Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype and mobile reception is available across our site. Please be aware that we do not allow any video calling, photographs or recordings to be carried out during scan appointments due to the concentration required by the sonographer.

If you have any questions, please contact your midwife or the matron by calling switchboard on 0117 923 0000.

 

Alternative COVID-19 vaccination

If you are from the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area and require an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine please email bnssg.massvaccination@nhs.net providing your name, date of birth, post code, contact number and eligibility for the vaccine (e.g. you are in an eligible cohort or are a frontline worker).

Patient Laura has also shared her experience of giving birth at the hospital during the restrictions in this video.

This animation sets out what pregnant women should expect from NHS maternity services during the coronavirus. Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Chief Midwifery Officer, and Dr Matthew Jolly, National Clinical Director for Maternity for the NHS in England, explain what might change and why it is important to keep in touch with your maternity team.

National Advice Video

Click here to view the video

NHS Volunteer Responders scheme

The  NHS Volunteer Responders scheme is open to all pregnant people, not just those who are shielding or vulnerable.    

Volunteer responders can help with picking up shopping or prescriptions, lifts to/from hospital and health appointments. Call 0808 196 3646 or visit their website for more details. 


Download our maternity services app

The My Pregnancy @ St Michael's app can be downloaded onto Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. The free app enables people to access more than 60 patient information leaflets produced by our experienced midwives and clinicians. To download the app, type 'St Michael's Bristol' into the app store on your device.  

Apple App store

Android App store

Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP)

At the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG), everything we do is with the aim of improving maternity services for all. We are a team of people who work together to transform your maternity care. If you or your partner are pregnant or have recently had a baby, then you can be a member. Find out more.

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