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The health trust going above and beyond for expectant mums during COVID-19

Friday, 17 July, 2020
The health trust going above and beyond for expectant mums during COVID-19

During the current pandemic, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) is continuing to help expectant mums bring their babies into the world, and they’re doing everything they can to let family share the joy too.

This week the trust announced that from the 20th July mums will be able to bring one person with them to their 12 week and 20 week baby scans – something that hasn’t been possible over the last four months. As the first healthcare provider in the region now able to facilitate this, they have been sharing exactly what else they can offer expectant parents during COVID-19 too.

The maternity team at NHFT pride themselves on being the only trust in the North who can accommodate partners overnight, and they have put measures in place to ensure that this can continue during Coronavirus. It doesn’t stop there either – because of the way it’s birthing centres are set up, birthing partners are allowed to stay with mums all the way through the labour too. So as soon as those contractions start, there will be someone by their side every step of the way.

New mum, Abigail Hedley from Bedlington, who recently gave birth to Ivy-Joan Hedley at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, wanted to share her story and reassure other mums that there’s really nothing to worry about. “I had a routine appointment at the Pregnancy Assessment Unit at NSECH, but I had arrived early as I had been having a few issues. The midwives were incredibly helpful and lovely, as were the doctors, and after a few tests a decision was made to induce me that day. My husband packed plenty of snacks and joined me on the Birthing Unit where the midwife walked us through the induction process and again, the whole team were amazing. At 7pm on 18th June, the procedure began, progressing into contractions 3 minutes apart. Ivy-Joan’s heartbeat began dipping and lots of midwives were in and out of the room to look after us both. At about 4am, even more staff came in, including anaesthetists and doctors, at which point it was decided I would have an emergency caesarean. They allowed Josh in as long as he was fully suited up in PPE, and within 13 minutes, we heard Ivy-Joan’s first cry.  We stayed in hospital for a couple of days after that and the support that we received from staff was second to none.”

Dad, Josh Hedley, added ‘the actual birth was very quick and all of the staff were very professional throughout the whole experience. A huge thank you to them all for helping bring our beautiful baby girl into the world!’

The trust also boasts 100% one to one care, meaning that those patients giving birth have their own midwife throughout their birthing journey. This is an important factor in ensuring that any needs are met quickly, improving the overall patient experience.

Kathryn Lissaman, Maternity Matron explained ‘at the best of times, having a baby can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first. When we are in the midst of a global pandemic, anxieties can be heightened, and mums rightfully have a lot of questions. Abigail had concerns around reduced movements, and after discussions with our consultants we decided to induce Abigail that day. Her partner joined her in the birthing centre and stayed by her side, supporting her right the way through till baby arrived. We believe this is imperative to help mums along their birthing journey – it’s so important they stay as relaxed as possible to allow labour to progress. There are certain things we are unable to facilitate, but making sure their birthing partner stays with them is something we absolutely advocate.’

Northumbria Healthcare is also the only trust in the region offering an uninterrupted home birth service during the current pandemic.

The trust works closely with the Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) to gather first hand feedback from service users. The MVP is a valuable network built to continuously improve the service, putting patient experience at the heart of everything it does. Across all of its birthing centres, birthing plans and preferences are catered for where ever possible. In the current climate, the trust are still doing everything they can to support these requests, and so they have introduced parental screening to ascertain whether mum or dad are COVID-19 positive. The results will then inform the birthing plan.

The screening arrangements are that mums will be offered Coronavirus screening at 38 weeks pregnant if they are planning a homebirth or plan to use the birthing pool for labour or delivery. Screening is optional to all others at 38 weeks, as part of the routine antenatal check-up.

Mums will then be offered a further screening test;

  • 48-72 hours before a planned delivery, such as an induction of labour or elective caesarean section, in a maternity screening hub
  • On admission to hospital in labour
  • On admission to the antenatal inpatient ward

Jenna Wall, Head of Midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust added ‘for us the message is really clear – this is a special time for mums and dads and we’re here to make it as memorable as possible, in a safe way. We have a team of dedicated, caring and committed midwives who are here for parents to support them throughout their journey. Of course we have to do things differently at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a positive experience for all of those involved.’