Are you pregnant? NHS maternity services in West Sussex are still here for you every step of the way
If you are expecting a baby, services are still available to support you and keep you and your baby safe, even while the NHS is working hard to manage coronavirus.
The safety of pregnant people and their babies at this time, as at any other time, is very important. There is no evidence to support or suggest that you are more likely to become seriously ill if you contract coronavirus compared to any other healthy adult.
It remains really important to contact your midwife if you have any worries or concerns, such as your baby isn’t moving as much as you think it should, or you are not feeling yourself at the moment.
If you have just become pregnant, please remember to register at a maternity unit closest to you. This will help set all the parts of your pregnancy in motion to make sure you get the best possible experience for you and your baby from the clinical experts in maternity.
Post-natal care and support will continue to be available to you when you get home with your baby and, if you should need to see your midwife, GP or health visitor, please get in touch as this appointment may need to take place by phone or digitally.
It is important to remember that if you are self-isolating because either you or someone in your family has coronavirus symptoms, you must let your midwife know so that arrangements can be made with you for your care.
Allison Cannon, Chief Nursing Officer, Sussex NHS Commissioners, says: “Every effort is being made by all our midwives in Sussex to give you the best possible birthing experience during a very difficult time. They are also working really hard to make sure that the environment you choose to have your baby in is safe for you and your baby but also safe for your midwife.”
How to personalise your care
This is a very special time and creating a keep-sake personal care and support plan is a great way of recording your thoughts, helping you to make informed choices and to support your personalised care as your pregnancy progresses and during your labour. Things you may wish to include might be:
Health and wellbeing during pregnancy
Your birthing preferences
What happens after your baby is born
Reflecting on your birthing experiences“My Pregnancy and Birth Choices” https://www.seshealthandcare.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/CS50743-Personalised-Care-and-Support-Plan-for-Sussex-and-East-Surrey-Local-Maternity-System.v5.pdf, which is in use in Sussex, can help you with this.
Services provided by Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Lynn Woolley, Head of Midwifery at Western Sussex Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, says: “We know that life has changed for families everywhere during this pandemic, but one thing that has stayed the same is the warm welcome that you will receive in our service.
“If you are pregnant or have a new-born and you are worried, then please contact us to let us know regardless of the pandemic. We may be able to help and advise you over the phone and if you do need to come to hospital, we have taken steps to ensure your safety.
“Don’t delay or worry that our services are busy or overwhelmed. They are not. We are open for business and still want to help. We are here for you.”
Maternity services are provided from St Richard’s in Chichester and Worthing Hospitals. Booking appointments and antenatal care currently continue to be carried out for people who do not have symptoms and/or whose isolation periods have ended.
Appointments will be carried out in community locations including GP surgeries and children and family centres whilst, where possible, observing the government advice of maintaining a two-metre distance.
If your appointment is not associated with a scan then your consultation will be conducted over the telephone. We would request that you answer the telephone and are in an environment where you are able to give your full attention.
If your antenatal clinic appointment is associated with a scan and you are well, you will be asked to attend the hospital for your scan.Following the scan you will be asked to wait in your car or outside of the hospital and the consultant will contact you by telephone.
If the consultant feels that you need to have a face-to-face consultation, they will ask you to return to the department and you will be seen using the social distancing rules.
Please look on Family Assist west-sussex-family-assist.custhelp.com/ if you want more information about the normal Antenatal Schedule of Care and the changes that have been made due to coronavirus.
If you are feeling anxious or worried there are services available to support you and these include:
Sussex Mental Health Helpline – 0300 5000 101
Time to Talk (West Sussex) – sussexcommunity.nhs.uk/services/servicedetails.htm?directoryID=16358
Health in Mind (East Sussex) – 0300 0030130 healthinmind.org.uk/
Brighton & Hove Wellbeing Service 0300 002 0060 brightonandhovewellbeing.org/adult
“A positive experience”
My name is Jen Arvid and I had my second baby at Princess Royal Hospital (PRH )just after coronavirus lockdown struck. We have called her Juno, meaning “protector of women” which felt appropriate with all the incredible women who have looked after me and her.
I went into labour around 6am and used my hypnobirthing practice to manage the surges (contractions) at home for as long as possible. With my first child this took about 24 hours so I thought I’d have a while to go still.
As normal, we called the labour ward at PRH to let them know what was happening.They were really supportive and said we’d be welcome to come to the ward at any point if we wanted a check, but my husband could only stay with me when I was in active labour and therefore using the delivery suite.
My husband and I decided we’d rather stay at home for as long as possible with the hope that we could stay together once we got to hospital.
Things ramped up pretty quickly after we contacted the hospital and by 9am I knew I was ready to go in. We were met at the entrance to the ward and taken straight to a delivery room, so my husband came too.
I remember now that I’d been told that second babies can come quicker and it was certainly true for this one. Thirty minutes later our beautiful daughter was born.
During the time I was in labour we had two midwives with us all the time. They were so calm and caring but just let me do my thing. I remember asking at one point what I should be doing and was told “just go with it, you’ve got this!” I felt so totally empowered but supported too.
What I hadn’t realised at the start was they were wearing PPE, but I honestly didn’t notice it at all. I am so grateful they let me have my husband with me all of time that I was in the delivery suite.
I was then moved to the postnatal ward and we said our goodbyes before I was moved as he couldn’t come with me. It was sad knowing my husband was going, but I was comforted by the fact he was going back to our toddler at home.
I was the lucky one because it meant that I could rest with our new baby and get to know her. I had the most incredible 24 hours of care and was really able to focus on Juno. It also gave me a chance to ask any questions about feeding and generally looking after baby.
I was lucky enough to be able to face-time with my husband a lot during my stay. The coronavirus precautions were there all the time and I never once felt at risk of exposure.
The midwives all wore PPE and changed their gloves after each examination. Loads of hand washing took place and hand sanitising too. They distanced all the mums as best they could but we’d all been isolating prior to birth anyway so it really did feel very safe.
The view from Bolney Ward is incredible and the whole time I was there I felt peaceful. I was anxious in advance, but honestly the whole experience couldn’t have been any more positive.
Thank you very much.