Giving birth during lockdown: how the rules have changed
Giving birth can be challenging enough as it is without the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to contend with! You probably have lots of questions about who can come with you to hospital, who can look after your older children while you’re there, and whether your midwife will still visit you after your baby is born. Here’s the Ministry of Health’s latest information.
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Care of older children during labour and birth
At Alert Level 4, everyone is required to stay at home and stop interactions with people outside of their household or 'bubble'. However, if you have other children, care will need to be organised for when you go into labour. This should be provided by a trusted person who is part of your self-isolation group. It's vital that the identified person is not elderly or vulnerable and that they and the people in their household do not have other contacts outside your household.
Are maternity facilities still open?
If you’re due to give birth over the next few weeks, check with your midwife about the service level available at your local maternity facility. Maternity facilities are birthing or delivery suites in hospitals and birthing units in the community. Primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities will remain open to provide essential services over the period of time that the country is at COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
Who can be with me at the birth?
Check with your maternity facility. It's likely they will have restrictions on the number of visitors and support people you can have with you at the facility while you’re in labour and whether you need to stay as an in-patient either before or after the birth of your baby. Reducing the number of people reduces the risk of infections spreading. This is a really important part of helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and will help protect you, your family, your newborn baby, other patients in the hospital and the staff looking after you.
How long can I stay at a post-birth maternity facility?
Again, check with your facility. Some maternity facilities may need to limit the amount of time you can stay after your baby is born. Your midwife (or DHB community midwife) will visit you at home as required and keep in touch with you by phone or video call to ensure you and your baby are well.
Will my midwife still visit me after my baby is born?
Your midwife will move to doing as much of the visit as possible over the phone or via video calling and may decrease the amount of face-to-face visits but will discuss with you the best place to have these. Your midwife will ask that no-one else is present during check-ups (no partners, family members or children) and you will be required to observe strict hygiene measures, including physical distancing. The physical assessments of you and your baby will still occur but will be done as quickly as possible.
What happens if I need to self-isolate after the baby is born?
If you’re self-isolating due to potential exposure to COVID-19 (close contact or recent travel) your midwife may reschedule routine postnatal visits for once your 14-day self-isolation period ends, but only if your midwife assesses that your and your baby’s postnatal care can safely be deferred. If you do need a visit, you’ll be provided with a surgical face mask to wear while your midwife visits you. Your midwife may also wear some personal protective equipment (like a mask).
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your self-isolation period, you will be treated as positive for COVID-19 until you receive a negative test result. If you develop symptoms, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follow their advice. Healthline is your first point of contact, but you should also let your midwife know if you become unwell.
If you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 after your baby is born
If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, inform your midwife or midwifery practice. Your midwife may reschedule routine postnatal visits until you have been cleared. This will only occur if your midwife assesses that your and your baby’s postnatal care can safely be deferred. If you do need a visit, you’ll be provided with a surgical face mask to wear while your midwife visits you. Your midwife will wear full personal protection equipment (gloves, surgical mask, disposable apron and eye protection) during the visit.