“Try not to worry too much and enjoy all the extra cuddles with your new born during this time”, that’s the advice from Stockton-resident Laura Balderson after giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is joining Laura in reassuring mums-to-be that their babies’ safety is of the highest priority.
The Trust’s maternity service has made significant changes to its operations to protect both patients and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic including limiting face-to-face appointments, increasing the use of PPE for staff and creating a dedicated phone line staffed my qualified midwives.
Head of Maternity Services Steph El-Malak said: “We fully understand that our mums-to-be will have concerns and worries during this difficult time.
“We’ve been hard at work to make changes to our maternity services, so we can limit face-to-face contact where possible, but still make sure their pregnancy journey is safe and leads to a happy and healthy baby.
“When contact is required, staff will wear the correct personal protective equipment to minimise any possibility of infection.”
For the protection of mum, baby and the medical staff, the principal changes to the maternity pathway include:
• Face-to-face appointments with the midwife will be limited to 15 minutes throughout the pregnancy, with the midwife will be wearing PPE at all times.
• Scans will be carried out as routine – partners are permitted to accompany the woman during the 12-week scan only.
• During the birth itself, only on birth partner will be allowed in the delivery suite.
• Dedicated phone lines, staffed by qualified midwives, will be in operation to provide additional support: 01642 624223 / 01642 624376, from 8am – 8pm, seven days a week.
• New-parent education sessions will no longer be offered. Instead, information will be made available on line and a dedicated phone line to offer support on Infant feeding has been created: 01429 522863
One recent mum who gave birth during the pandemic was 36-year-old Laura Balderson. Already a mum to 4-year-old Alfie, the Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council Web Support Officer and husband Neil welcomed daughter Eden on Friday 3 April.
Weighing in at 7lbs 1oz, Eden is described by her mum as ‘perfect in every way.’
Laura said: “Our experience of giving birth at North Tees was really positive.
“I had a quick labour and we were only in the delivery suite for 14 minutes before giving birth. Although everything was very rushed, the staff were amazing and made us feel at ease.
“The staff on the ward were really friendly, kept us up-to-date, and were happy to answer all of our questions.
“The room was cleaned a number of times a day and I saw all the beds stripped down and changed during my time there.
“I felt really anxious about going into hospital due to the ongoing pandemic.
“I was worried the strain on the hospital was only going to get worse as more COVID-19 cases were confirmed.
“However, we needn’t have worried. The staff were so professional and calm, the whole experience didn’t feel too dissimilar from Alfie’s birth in 2015.
“I would say, if you are unsure about anything or would like any advice, do ask the midwives while you’re in hospital as postnatal home visits and check-ups are limited at the moment.
“Most importantly, try not to worry too much and enjoy all the extra cuddles with your new born during this time.”
Steph El-Malak said: “We’re here for our mums-to-be throughout their pregnancy and afterwards, for as long as they need us, be assured that our staff will be smiling at you under our masks.
“We also have a responsibility to our midwives and maternity staff to protect them and we won’t compromise their safety. We fully understand that staff also have anxieties and concerns at the moment and we are here for them too.”
For full details of the new maternity pathway, mums-to-be are asked to visit our maternity page.