In line with national guidance, you will still need to wear a mask, socially distance and a lateral flow test is appreciated if possible but not mandatory. Please do not enter the Maternity Unit if you have COVID-19 or are unwell at all.

Concerns about yours or your baby’s wellbeing

Our maternity services remain open 24/7. It is just as important as ever that you contact us if you have any concerns about your pregnancy or your baby’s wellbeing (for example your baby’s movements are reduced). If you are concerned, it is very important that you call Labour Line without delay on 0300 369 0388 for advice. You may be advised to come in to hospital, even if you have tested positive for COVID-19.

We want you to feel that it is safe to come into hospital if you need to. We have set up a dedicated section of the maternity unit for women who have tested positive and who need urgent maternity care.

COVID-19 vaccine advice during pregnancy

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that pregnant women should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, based on their age and clinical risk group.

To help make a decision:

The decision whether you want the vaccination is your choice, there is useful information that may help you to make a decision.

A short video with more information:

Consultant Obstetrician Jo Mountfield talks about the vaccination.

Government advice on COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

To offer additional support for pregnant women NHS Digital have this week announced that that there will be an ‘Are you Pregnant’ button on the national COVID-19 booking site. Through the site women will be able to book to have the appropriate vaccine and see tailored information and advice about the vaccines. This is in addition to you being able to access an appropriate vaccination via your GP.

Even if you receive the vaccine your employer should still complete a COVID-19 risk assessment.

If having read the RCOG decision aid and other information you would like to book the vaccine you need to:

  • Book via the NHS site. There is the option to press are you pregnant on the site which gives them further information on the vaccine and book at an appropriate site
  • Notify the team at the vaccination centre you are pregnant
  • You are advised to have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination
  • Please note you cannot have any other vaccination (including flu or whooping cough) 7 days before or after a COVID-19 vaccination. So please be aware of this when you book your appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine.

Your midwife/obstetrician will be happy to talk to you about the vaccination in more detail if you would like.

Latest government advice on COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for all women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding

Coronavirus infection and pregnancy

Information for pregnant women and their families

Access to emergency and urgent care for pregnant women

Labour care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Birthing plan

We understand that this is a worrying time for pregnant families and those with newborn babies. Our role is to keep you and your family safe, and to ensure that our staff are protected. We have some new guidelines in place during this period, based on national guidance, and these may change as the situation develops. We will keep you informed of any changes, and continue to support you and your baby.

Maternity care is essential and there is no need to avoid scheduled scans and check-ups if you and your family are well. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to let your midwife know so that we can provide the care you need in the safest way.

As always, if you are worried or concerned about anything relating to your pregnancy or your baby, please contact us.

The national bodies representing midwives (RCM), obstetricians (RCOG) and paediatricians (RCPCH) have released guidance which can be found in an easy Q&A format on the main COVID-19 page.

The key messages are:
• Pregnant women are not at greater risk from COVID-19 than other healthy individuals than other healthy individuals, according to current evidence
• Women who are not in isolation should continue to attend all routine appointments.
• Women who are isolating because they have symptoms (or someone in their household has symptoms) will have routine appointments rescheduled for when their period of isolation is over.

We are taking every possible step to make sure you receive the maternity care you need, as safely as possible.

It is just as important as ever for you to consider your birth preferences and write a birth plan. You will still be able to discuss this with a midwife, but this is likely to be done over the phone or using a video call.

There is lots of information on the Maternity Matters website to guide you in making your decisions, and your midwife will answer any questions or address any concerns you have.

Throughout labour we will discuss your birth preferences and plan your care together. We will consider the latest guidance and up-to-date information to ensure the safest care for you and your baby.

At present time (February 2021) we are still able to offer:

  • home birth
  • the Haven birth centre (an alongside midwife-led birth centre in University Hospitals Dorset, Poole)
  • the labour ward in UHD, Poole
  • labour ward or The Cove (midwife-led unit) in DCH, Dorchester

Unfortunately Bournemouth Birth Centre is currently closed.

For further information on the available birth places, what to expect during labour and birth, and your pain relief options at each site, please visit the ‘labour and birth’ pages.

A home birth is only recommended:

  • if your pregnancy has been uncomplicated and you are under midwifery-led care
  • if you have an agreed birth plan with the consultant midwives and wider team if there are other considerations.

To ensure everyone’s safety, we ask that you have only one birth partner during a home birth.

For most women there will be no need to transfer your care to the hospital. However, if a transfer if needed, this will be via an ambulance which we usually suggest can take between 40-60 minutes from the call to arriving in hospital.

If you or a member of your household had symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of labour we will ask you to come into hospital, where we can care for you and your baby safely.

We know that having continuous support during labour and birth is important for you and is known to make a significant difference to the safety and wellbeing of women in childbirth.

We want to ensure that you have access to this crucial support wherever possible. Therefore a single birth partner is welcome and encouraged to accompany you in labour. This also applies to home births.

If your planned birth partner has symptoms of COVID-19 they will not be able to attend the birth. It’s a good idea to think about one or more back-up birth partners, such as a family member or friend, in case your planned birth partner is affected. This person can be from another household, as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

Your birth partner will be able to stay with you in the immediate postnatal period. Please refer to your individual hospital’s guidance on visiting for further details.

All birth partners will be asked to wash their hands regularly following national guidance.

When you call the maternity unit in labour or if you are scheduled to come in for a caesarean section, we will be asking you if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. It is important you let us know so we can care for you in the right place.

You will be asked to enter the maternity unit through a separate entrance. There is a designated area for your care. Healthcare professionals will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. We know this may be strange at first but we will try to make you feel as relaxed as possible. We will also ask you and your birth partner to wear a mask, unless you are using gas and air.

We will check your oxygen levels more often during labour using a simple finger saturation monitor. It is also recommended that your baby’s heart is monitored continuously throughout labour – you can find out more about monitoring in our birth section.

National guidance states that women with suspected or positive COVID-19 should not use the birthing pool for labour or birth. It is safe to use Entonox (gas and air) and we will show you how to use this if you would like to try it.

The RCOG has recommended an epidural for labour if you are unwell – we will discuss this with you at the time.

For emergency caesarean births, staff will need to put on PPE. This is time-consuming but necessary to keep staff safe. This could mean it takes us longer than usual from deciding you need a caesarean to delivering your baby.

Online Antenatal Classes

We have provided live webinar antenatal classes for women in Dorset. These were provided by midwives and support workers across all sites covering a range of topics. We are currently filming more antenatal classes, these will be available soon and will be added once complete. You can watch our antenatal videos here.

Minority communities

If you are Black, Asian or another ethnic minority and pregnant we want you to know, we’re here to support you.

Pregnant people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have 4 times the chance of needing a hospital stay because of COVID-19 symptoms. Research is ongoing to explain why this is. It’s natural to feel anxious in these uncertain times, especially if you are pregnant, but we’re here to help.

Infant feeding and postnatal

To keep you and your baby safe, we have made some changes to postnatal care and feeding support in Dorset. We are still here to provide you with all the support you need.

The staff will give you the support you need to feed your baby. Depending on your needs, this might include:

  • help with positioning and attachment if you choose to breastfeed
  • advice on hand expressing or using a pump
  • advice on safely making up formula feeds, sterilising equipment and bottle feeding
  • other methods of feeding where needed, such as syringe or cup feeding colostrum

You will receive a phone call or a home visit from a midwife the day after you return home, to see how you and your baby are doing. They will ask lots of questions about your physical and emotional health, your baby’s wellbeing, including feeding and nappies. If you are concerned about anything or have any questions, your midwife can help you. If you need additional feeding support, you may be offered support via video call or telephone call, using your smartphone or tablet, and this is available at all of Dorset’s hospital trusts.

You can also access the Dorset breastfeeding course online as often as needed.

As always, if you have concerns, you can contact the community midwives at any time for help and advice. You can also find lots of help and advice on the Maternity Matters website.

If no-one in your house has symptoms of COVID-19, we will still visit you at home five days after your baby is born. During the visit we will weigh your baby, and perform the newborn blood spot test (if you have consented to this) and make sure you are recovering well.

If you do have symptoms of COVID-19 we will make a personal plan with you based on when you started to notice symptoms.

This visit will be limited to less than 15 minutes as evidence suggests that the risk of transmission increases after this time. You will still be given the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have about yourself or your baby and ask for advice – your midwife may call you before the appointment to discuss as much as possible on the phone before seeing you.

When we arrive, we will be wearing an apron, gloves and a face mask – please don’t worry, this is to protect you and your family, and the midwives. It doesn’t mean we think you are sick or that the midwife visiting you is sick. Please know that, while it might feel scary to have a visitor wearing protective clothing, we will be smiling at you from behind the mask! We will ask that we can be alone in the room with you and your baby, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Smoking in pregnancy

Quitting smoking in pregnancy is the best thing you can do for your baby particularly with the increased risks of COVID-19 and smoking. Our Pan Dorset Service currently offers a very personal 1-2-1 based telephone chat so that we can offer you support and help on a personalised 12 week quit programme. Free nicotine replacement medication can be arranged for you also.

If you would like help and support please contact:

Royal Bournemouth Hospital: Live Well Dorset

Poole Hospital: or 07557322620

Dorset County Hospital: or 07795317656

Quit smoking for COVID

Smoking and coronavirus advice for parents

Babies cry, you can cope!

During this difficult time we understand the additional stresses that families are facing with a new born baby. ICON can help show you how you can cope with a crying baby, and what a normal crying pattern is. A midwife will talk to you about this before you leave the hospital.

I infant crying is normal and it will stop
C comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop
O its ok to walk away and you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting to you
N never shake or harm your baby

Remember this phase will not last, you can cope with their crying, it’s ok to have a break from your baby.

If you require further support contact your midwife, health visitor or GP or visit: ICON.


If you have any of the following or need to speak to a midwife, please call Labour line 0300 369 0388.

  • Your waters break.
  • You’re bleeding.
  • You have unexplained abdominal pain.
  • You think you are in labour.
  • Your baby is moving less than usual, or the pattern of movements has changed.
  • You’re less than 37 weeks pregnant and think you might be in labour.
  • You feel unwell or feverish.
  • You are unsure or worried about your labour, yourself or your baby.
  • Any non emergency queries following birth of the baby.

You will be contacted in advance to arrange your booking appointment. Please read about your screening choices beforehand and we can discuss these during your booking which will be completed virtually. We are minimising face to face contacts and try to keep these to 15 minutes maximum when we see you. We may ring you in advance to discuss as much as possible over the phone so that when we see you we can perform our checks efficiently. This might mean that we call you again afterwards to discuss the appointment findings and any questions you may have.

Booking appointment Full history, initial screening for medical, psychological and social risk factors Virtual appointment
Dating (12 week) scan All blood tests, BP and urine testing to be taken at dating scan appointment. Face to face
16 week appointment Review results of screening review, discuss and record the results of all screening tests.  Give information about ongoing care. Face to face
18-20 weeks Routine anomaly scan
Check BP and urine at this visit instead of 16 week appointment.
Face to face
25 weeks Measure fundal height, BP and urine; review scan results. Face to face
28 weeks Routine antenatal appointment
Measure fundal height, BP and test urine
Face to face
32 weeks Routine antenatal appointment
Measure fundal height, BP and test urine
Face to face
36 weeks Routine antenatal appointment
Measure fundal height, BP and test urine
Discuss plans for birth
Face to face
40 weeks Measure fundal height, BP and test urine; discuss information about options for prolonged pregnancy Face to face
41 weeks + Measure fundal height, BP and test urine; discuss fetal movements and wellbeing Discussed and planned with maternity team

Please contact your community midwifery team for non-urgent concerns. Any urgent concerns please ring NHS 111 and they can support you and direct you to the most appropriate health care professional.

If you have any concerns about you or your baby after you have been discharged by your midwife team please contact your health visiting team or NHS 111.

Do not use a home doppler (heartbeat listening kit) to try to check the baby’s heartbeat yourself. This is not a reliable way to check your baby’s health. Even if you hear a heartbeat, this does not mean your baby is well. If your baby is moving less than usual, or the pattern of movements has changed ring Labour line straight away on 0300 369 0388. They will arrange for you to have your baby’s movements and heartbeat checked. Do not wait until the next day – call straight away, even if it’s the middle of the night.

You can call Labour Line for non-urgent questions on 0300 369 0388.

This will depend on what hospital you’re going to. Poole have separate teams for community and the hospital, and Dorset County Hospital have teams that work in both. So while it is possible to have the same midwife, this depends on shift patterns. However, it is something we are aiming to happen more often and are currently undertaking work to improve the continuity of your care.

In established labour, you will have a private room. There isn’t the option to pay for private postnatal rooms at Dorset County Hospital, they do have single rooms and these are allocated on a first come first served basis and in consideration of clinical need.

You will not be asked to wear a mask during labour at University Hospitals Dorset or Dorset County Hospital, or at a home birth. Your partner will be asked to wear a mask when staff are in the room, and you will both be asked to wear a mask when in corridors, having an elective caesarean section or moving around the hospital.