Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates: Maternity Services

Providing safe maternity service during current Covid-19 pressures

All of the maternity units in SE London are working together to ensure that we can offer the best possible care to women and birthing people throughout the pandemic. However, the rapid rise in cases has meant that many of our staff have tested positive for Covid-19 or need to self isolate and as a result, we have had to make some urgent changes to our services. These changes have not been made lightly, but our first priority will always be to ensure the safety of all of our patients and staff. Your midwife will be in touch to discuss how these changes might impact on any pre or postnatal appointments or arrangements for giving birth.

We also need your help to ensure that our maternity units stay safe for all our mums and babies. In particular, we would ask that:

  • all women/birthing people and their support partner support us by performing Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) twice a week during pregnancy, and prior to arrival at the maternity unit. When a support person is not happy to undertake a LFT unfortunately they will not be able to remain in the Maternity Unit.
  • facemasks are worn by everyone whilst in our hospitals. Should visitors be exempt from wearing masks, they should provide documented evidence of this.
  • during your stay only one named birthing partner visits you and that visiting is kept to a minimum where possible

We really value the continued support of all our women, birthing people and families, and will continue to work with you to make sure your experience of pregnancy is as positive as possible.


Temporary changes to services

We have had to take the difficult decision to suspend our homebirth service and continuity of care teams, so that staff can be redeployed to services to the labour and maternity wards. On occasions, we have had to temporarily close our birth centres to redeploy staff as needed.


What to do if you think your labour has started

If you think your labour has started, or you need to attend the hospital due to an emergency or concern about the baby, please call us and a member of staff will advise you where and when to come in:

University Hospital Lewisham: Tel 020 8333 3026  
Queen Elizabeth Hospital: Tel 020 8836 6180

All parent education classes and tours of labour ward have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.   However, we have also filmed virtual tours of our maternity services at University Hospital Lewisha and Queen Elizabeth Hospital


Visiting maternity during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Hospital antenatal and scan appointments        

  • You will be offered a routine ultrasound scan when you are 12 weeks, 20 weeks and 36 weeks pregnant, and additional scans when clinically indicated. One support person is welcome to accompany you to all your antenatal scans.
  • We understand the importance of partners attending antenatal appointments but our waiting rooms and some of our clinics (particularly the Day Assessment and the Antenatal Clinic) do not have the capacity for social distancing, and your partner will be asked to wait outside until the appointment time or until you are moved to a different area. Only women and birthing people will be able to attend appointments in the Day Assessment Unit.
  • Provisions are made for those requiring interpreting services, or need an advocate for health or psychosocial care needs, but we need to know this in advance to plan appropriately.  Alternatively, you may be offered a phone or video consultation instead of a face to face appointment with your Obstetrician.
  • All companions will be asked to wear a surgical face mask at all times whilst inside the hospital and follow social distancing rules.
  • Please do not bring children to any appointments.


Support during labour and birth and in postnatal period

  • During your labour, we welcome one named birth partner to be present. Unfortunately, due to the limited space available in the triage department your partner will be asked to wait outside while you are being assessed.
  • During your stay on the Maternity Ward, we welcome one named support person from 10am until 10pm.  We would encourage your support person to go home overnight to ensure they have some sleep and to return the following day refreshed to support you. However, if you feel you require additional support during the night, your support person is welcome to stay.
  • While in the hospital birth partners must wear a surgical mask.
  • If you are admitted for an elective caesarean section or induction of labour we will welcome your birth partner to attend the maternity unit with you, irrespective of the time.
  • Unfortunately, at this time other visitors (including children) are not able to visit you if you are admitted to hospital.
  • If birthing at home, we recommend that you observe the same restrictions and limit your birthing companions to one person.

 Neonatal Unit

  • Within our Neonatal service, we believe that it is essential that both parents are there to be partners in their baby’s care.
  • Access times for parents are not restricted and you will have 24 hour access to your baby.
  • At this time we are not allowing other visitors or siblings to come to the Neonatal units, to ensure the safety of all our babies is maintained.
  • We will be encouraging parents to perform twice weekly lateral flow tests as the national restrictions ease.
  • You will be provided with a mask and be asked to wash your hands on entering the unit and be given clear guidance on how to keep your baby safe.