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Statement for Women regarding Community Midwifery Services.

We want to make sure you and your baby are well during the coronavirus pandemic and we are committed to providing safe and personal maternity care. It is important that you have all the information you need to help you to make informed decisions about your maternity care.

Women who have coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms will be cared for separately to women who do not have symptoms. This is to keep everybody who uses our services as safe as possible.

We might have fewer maternity staff available. This means we have had to think about how we will care for you and your family during your pregnancy, labour and birth.

We have already changed many of our working practices to facilitate women's needs and accommodate significantly reduced workforces. We have welcomed many of our retired colleagues back to the service, as well as some staff who took secondments into specialist roles.  We have extended midwives working hours and reconsidered annual leave.

We have had to make some changes to ensure we keep you and your baby safe.

These are:

  • the temporary suspension of the Home Birth
  • the temporary suspension of the Frenulotomy Service.

Our Community Midwifery Matron has discussed these temporary changes to service provision with the Chair of the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), and regionally with what is in line with our neighbouring Hospital Trusts. It is the on-call element of the home birth model that remains a challenge, ensuring women are cared for by staff that have had time off to rest between shifts, and that we have appropriate access to ambulance services.

Given the suspension of our Home Birth Service, women can expect to confidently birth their babies at one of our Consultant Led Units where:

  •  You will still be treated with respect and dignity.
  •  You will still be able to have a birth partner of your choice during your labour and birth, as long as they do not have symptoms of coronavirus.
  •  You can still expect us to communicate clearly with you.
  •  You will still be able to have access to pain relief options, including gas and air and an epidural.
  •  You will still be able to be mobile, use a birthing ball and birth in a position of your choice.

Your midwife or obstetrician will support you at this time as you plan for your labour and birth. This might include changing your plan for your birth or transferring your care to a different maternity service. Your midwife or obstetrician can help you with this, and our Head of Midwifery or Community Midwifery Matron would welcome discussions with anyone who was previous hoping to have a Home Birth to ensure we can make the experience as welcoming as possible for you.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the changes to maternity care provision, please contact Jo Crawford, Head of Midwifery, or Helen Martin, Community Midwifery Matron on 01325 743197.          

'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital