Here’s the latest COVID-19 protocols to follow when giving birth

If you’re having your baby soon, you’ll be understandably nervous about what will happen when you are ready to give birth. After all, if the latest numbers of COVID-19 cases are anything to go by, there’s still the very real threat of infections.  Despite operating under Level 1 restrictions, maternity units in hospitals, in general, are still exercising caution in the best interest of the maternity patients and newborns in their care.

At government hospitals you can go to antenatal clinics, but birth partners are still not allowed into the delivery room, visiting is limited and the hospital stay – depending on the circumstances – is still minimised. According to a source from the Department of Health who didn’t want to be named, “nothing has changed” and “all the COVID-19 protocols set out at the beginning of lockdown are still in place to protect both mom and her newborn, and all healthcare workers.”

However, at private hospitals, like the Netcare and Life Healthcare group of hospitals, moms will be relieved to know that some of the COVID-19 maternity protocols have been relaxed to accommodate birth partners.

Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, outlined their latest protocols:

  • Your birthing partner can accompany you to your antenatal visit – provided your partner isn’t COVID-19 positive or being investigated for COVID-19.
  • If you’re having an elective C-section or are going to be induced for labour you have to be tested for COVID-19 between 48 and 72 hours before your expected delivery or admission date. You will be screened when you are admitted and will also be asked to provide your test results to the staff at the screening station.
  • Your partner can attend the delivery of your baby provided he is not COVID-19 positive or under investigation for COVID-19, and has passed the screening on entering the hospital. But your partner must stay with you and not move around the hospital.
  • If you go into labour before your due date, or there’s an emergency, you will still have to undergo COVID-19 screening. In this instance, the screening may be completed after the procedure or operation is complete. Both you and your baby will have to be tested if your stay will exceed 48 hours. If your baby is admitted into the NICU, you will need to be tested before you can visit your baby.

ALSO SEE: Giving birth during COVID-19? Here’s what to expect at the hospital…

  • After delivery, your partner can visit you and your baby, rooming in with you daily, in line with hospital guidelines for maternity units. This is on condition your partner passes the hospital screening for COVID-19 and sticks to strict infection prevention measures.
  • Grandparents and siblings are not yet permitted to visit either the mother or baby.
  • If your baby is a neonate or has been admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you and your partner can visit your baby once a day, at the discretion of the unit manager. This is on condition that you have had no COVID-19 exposure, that the parent who is not an in-patient, has completed the hospital screening for COVID-19, and that you both adhere to strict infection prevention controls.

Life Healthcare has announced that while it will continue to adhere to safety measures outlined in August, it will “gradually ease visitation restrictions” and that this will be “at the discretion of each hospital, depending on the local COVID-19 situation and advice from hospital management and doctor COVID-19 committees.” This means that if you’re having your baby at a Life hospital, your family will first need to check with your hospital about visiting you and your baby.

Current protocols at this group of hospitals allow for your birth partner to attend the birth. He can also visit you for an hour every day while you’re in the hospital. Further, you can both visit the nursery|NICU once a day, the duration of the visit being at the discretion of the unit manager.

This is of course provided your partner has tested negative for COVID-19, that he is screened at the hospital entrance each time he visits and adheres to strict infection prevention measures as outlined by the hospital.

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