Coronavirus and the Maternity Services

AIMS Birth Information

Information about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for pregnant women in the UK and links to information sources can be found here. We aim to keep this page up-to-date as the situation changes.

Helpline

The maternity services are under huge stress with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is causing women to be given mixed messages about the services available, with different trusts making different decisions. The AIMS Helpline volunteers are working as normal to offer support to maternity service users. Please contact us by email helpline@aims.org.uk or by phone on 0300 365 0663.

The AIMS Helpline does not offer medical advice, but we can provide information and support to help you navigate the maternity system, to know your rights and to listen to your concerns. We will be regularly reviewing the issues brought to us on the Helpline, so we offer the best information and most effective support that we can.

Campaigning

Our focus for the time being (recognising that changes are happening daily) is to lobby the parts of the NHS with the influence to create change to recognise the needs of women and their babies, and to not assume that ‘high technology’ solutions are the only answer to the Covid-19 pandemic, while pushing to ensure that women do get the treatment that they need, when they need it. We are particularly concerned about the following five areas:

  • Continuity of Carer
  • Access to home birth
  • Access to birth centres (midwife led units)
  • Access to caesareans
  • Birth partners being able to continue to provide the support women need.

We have written to some of the key stakeholders and our letter is published below. We are evaluating advice that has been published by other organisations and will respond to them in due course.

I want to express a concern and ask a question.

In the current situation we are telling people to self isolate to reduce the chance of transmission of Covid-19. Advice that seems to apply to everyone other than those giving birth and midwives.

AIMS is already hearing of women who were planning homebirths, and whose plans mean they would remain in the safe isolation of their own homes, being told to come in to hospital for the birth, putting themselves, their birth partners, their baby and their midwife at risk of contracting Covid 19.

The research evidence is clear that the risks of homebirth for mothers and babies even for women who are deemed to be high risk are very low (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25603762), but the risks of Covid-19 are not.

I am not suggesting that women should be told they can't go to hospital to have their babies, just given information that clearly present the real advantages of birthing outside hospital in the current situation. I am suggesting that plans are put in place to keep as many midwives isolated from obstetric units as possible to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Much antenatal care can be done by phone as is being suggested which is good. However, if midwives can focus more on seeing women in the community when they really need to, then the risks that antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care pose in the transmission of Covid-19 can be reduced.

We also hope that plans are being put in place to make sure that birth centres can continue to provide a safer environment too. Making sure that these stay open, and that are staffed by a group of midwives who can remain isolated from staff at the obstetric unit, reducing the risk of transmission of Covid-19 for them and the families for whom they are caring.

I am hoping that many areas are already thinking in this way and that AIMS is just hearing from women where the LMS has not yet started to think in a more logical manner about what can be done for the safety of mothers, babies, families, midwives and also doctors in these challenging times.

Please can you share what is happening in your areas. Hoping to hear that rational solutions are being put in to practice in most areas, solutions which are logical and put the safety of women (mothers and midwives) at the heart of the solution, rather than what we have started to hear on the AIMS Helpline.

Hoping that everyone is well and manages to stay so.

Debbie
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Debbie Chippington Derrick
AIMS Chair of Trustees
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Access to Homebirths

The AIMS Helpline has been receiving many enquiries from women who have had support for their homebirths withdrawn. We have produced a template letter which women can use to write to their local NHS Trust, asking them to explore the solutions which have been implemented in other parts of the country to enable mothers choosing a homebirth in their area to have the midwifery support they need.

Research Studies

AIMS welcomes several research studies that are being carried out by the NPEU and associates.

UKOSS Study - COVID-19 in Pregnancy
www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/ukoss/current-surveillance/covid-19-in-pregnancy

Neonatal Complications of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Study
www.rcpch.ac.uk/bpsu-study-neonatal-complications-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

UK Midwifery Study System www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/ukmidss will be monitoring the situation with regard to closures, staffing changes and other impacts on midwifery units.

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