Should I attend antenatal appointments during the coronavirus outbreak?

Is it safe to go to antenatal appointments when you're supposed staying at home? What if you've been self-isolating? We have the latest advice from our expert GP Dr Philippa Kaye

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In a nutshell: As long as you’re well and don’t have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you should attend your antenatal appointments – and it’s very important that you do. If you’re self-isolating, you need to ring the hospital and let them know and they’ll arrange an appointment for you once you’re better.

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Attending antenatal appointments during the coronavirus outbreak: what the experts say

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) confirms that even during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s really important for a healthcare professional to check in on you and your baby because, as they state: “There is a potential risk of harm to you and your baby if you don’t attend your appointments, even in the context of coronavirus.”

They go on to say unequivocally:

If you are well, you should attend your antenatal care as normal
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

It’s possible that your antenatal appointments may be changed or delayed, if your midwife team has staffing issues, due to the coronavirus. And you may find that some of your appointments will now carried on by phone or by video call. If one of your appointments is delayed or cancelled and you don’t hear more, do ring to rearrange your appointment.

When you do go for your appointment, you may find that, to try to keep everyone safe, you’re asked to wait in the hospital or GP surgery car park (rather than sit with others in a waiting room) until it’s time for the midwife, sonographer or doctor to see you.

But what if I’m self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating because you have coronavirus symptoms or because someone else in your household has symptoms, things are obviously a bit different.

Our expert family GP Dr Philippa Kaye says, “You should stay at home but ring and inform your antenatal team.” And RCOG advise:

If you have symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, you should contact your midwife to postpone routine visits until after your isolation period is over
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Dr Philippa adds that it’s important to know, if this happens to you, that your appointment is postponed, not cancelled. “We still need to check on you and baby once you’re out of isolation,” she says.

In fact, your midwife team may even want to give you some extra checks if you’ve been unwell. “You will be offered an antenatal appointment after you recover,” says Dr Philippa, “and it’s likely you’ll be offered an extra ultrasound.”

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Can my partner and/or my children come to appointments with me?

Do check with your hospital first, as the advice tends to vary, but we’re pretty sure you will be required to limit the number of people you take with you to appointments, including scans. It’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to take children with you. And you may even be asked to attend on your own.

“You will be asked to keep the number of people with you at appointments to a minimum,” says RCOG. “This will include being asked to not bring children with you to maternity appointments and, on occasions, your maternity unit may request that you attend your antenatal appointments alone – to aid infection control and help keep staff safe from transmission.”

Pics: Getty

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About our expert, Dr Philippa Kaye

Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.

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