Stepping Hill Hospital – Maternity Services COVID-19 letter

Women, Children & Diagnostics Business Group

6th Floor, Women’s Unit

Stepping Hill Hospital

Poplar Grove

Stockport

SK2 7JE

Tel (0161) 419 5551

The midwives at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust that runs Stepping Hill Hospital want to make sure that you and your baby are well during the coronavirus pandemic, and that you have all the information you need to ensure safe and personal maternity care.

There is currently uncertainty about the effects of the pandemic on our midwifery staffing levels. To address this risk we have made some temporary changes to the way we care for you to minimise face to face contact and reduce the risk posed by the virus. These changes include:

Antenatal care

  • Booking appointment – this is now by telephone with a midwife.
  • Dating (12 week) scan – We ask you to attend this ultrasound scan alone (except in exceptional circumstances) with a partner or friend nearby in case they are needed. During your visit you will also be offered a face-to-face midwife appointment to measure your blood pressure and urine and offer you screening blood tests. You will also receive your handheld maternity record if not already provided. You will receive a free photo.
  • 16 and 25 week appointments – these will be telephone consultations
  • Anomaly (20 week) scan – We ask you to attend this ultrasound scan alone (except in exceptional circumstances) with a partner or friend nearby in case they are needed. We will offer to check your blood pressure and urine during your visit. You will receive a free photo.
  • 28 weeks onwards – Appointments remain face to face so that growth and blood pressure can be assessed appropriately.
  • Obstetrician appointments – If you are having shared care with an obstetrician these appointments may take place at the hospital or you may receive a phone call from the obstetrician.
  • Antenatal education – unfortunately, we are unable to provide face-to-face antenatal classes now but are working on an online alternative.
  • Emergency care – please continue to call triage (0161 419 5551) if you notice a change in your baby’s pattern of movements, have any vaginal bleeding, severe itching, swelling, dizziness, headache, blurred vision or any other worries.

Labour and birth

Home births

Although we have already increased our midwifery numbers and have the ability to increase further as required with the use of bank midwives, there will always be uncertainties regarding staffing due to the restrictions placed on us in managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

Added to that is the uncertainty placed on ambulance response times- whilst our colleagues in the ambulance service will always try to get to emergency situations as quickly as possible, it cannot guarantee it will achieve normal response times in the current pandemic.

In view of these increased risks we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend the homebirth service to ensure we keep you and your baby safe. This change has been made with the support of our Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) service user chair and will be reviewed regularly.

We can however still facilitate a low-risk home-from-home experience on our midwifery unit (also known as a birth centre) in our Women’s Unit in a separate building from the main hospital. The birth centre midwives are experts in facilitating birth in our calm and comfortable space. Birth pools and aromatherapy are available on the birth centre. Where possible, labour assessments will be undertaken in the home, and the community midwife will accompany you to the birth centre and undertake your care.

We are truly sorry about this temporary change to our homebirth service and appreciate that you will be disappointed by the decision we have had to make in these difficult circumstances.

Birth partners

We would like to reassure you that you will still be treated with dignity and respect. You will still be able to have a birth partner of your choice during your labour and birth, providing they do not have symptoms of coronavirus.

Pain relief

You will still have all options of pain relief, including epidural; and you will still be able to be mobile, use a birthing ball, a birth pool and adopt the most comfortable position for you while in labour.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

Women who have COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature and continuous cough) will be cared for in a separate part of the maternity unit to women who do not have symptoms. This is to keep everybody who uses our services and our staff as safe as possible. Your midwife will be wearing extra personal protective equipment to look after you.

Postnatal care

  • The primary visit (first day at home) will be by telephone consultation
  • Normal midwifery visits on day 5
  • Either face to face or telephone discharge on days 10-12

Please be assured that if further support is needed at any time, a midwife will be available as previously.

Further information

We are continually assessing the risks posed by the pandemic, and we will endeavour to return to normal practice as soon as is safe to do so

If you have any questions regarding the content of this letter, please contact your community midwife.

The Maternity Triage Unit will be open as normal if you are worried about yourself or your baby. The number is 0161 419 5551.

If have any other non-urgent concerns, please contact our coronavirus advice line open Monday to Friday 8:30am until 4:30pm. The number is 0161 419 5514.