Frequently asked questions for prenatal and postnatal care during COVID-19.
I have an upcoming appointment with my doctor or clinic. Am I still going to attend?
For regular prenatal visits, your doctor or midwife will still need to see you throughout your pregnancy but the way you connect with your care provider may be a little different during the pandemic. Your doctor or midwife may schedule some appointments over the phone or internet but several in-person visits are still necessary.
To keep everyone safe, the clinic staff will call you before in-person appointments to ask you whether you have any symptoms. Efforts will be made to keep you safe during your appointments through physical distancing measures, timing of appointments and wearing personal protective equipment (masks or gowns) while providing your care.
If I am sick should I cancel my appointment?
Please call the clinic and share information about your symptoms (including any new fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new rash, vomiting or diarrhea) and recent travel history.
Are Fraser Health hospitals screening for COVID-19 when patients arrive at the hospital?
Yes, we are screening all patients and support people who come to hospital by asking a series of questions. This screening may happen at the front door to the building and when you arrive to the unit. If you are having any flu-like symptoms (even mild ones) such as fever, new cough or difficulty breathing, please call the hospital before arriving.
Can I have visitors while in the hospital?
During the pandemic, in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at our sites, we are restricting hospital visitors to essential visitors only. Guidance for essential visiting is outlined by the BC Centre for Disease Control and your care team.
Can I have my partner or another family member stay with me for the birth of my baby?
To keep your family and friends safe during the pandemic, you will be asked to designate one support person to stay with you during labour and birth. This person may be a significant other, family member or friend.
Once you decide whom that support person is, hospital staff will put a band around their wrist so they are recognized as your support person when entering the unit on their own. If your support person is sick, they cannot enter the hospital. We recommend designating an alternate support person in their place.
While my support person is here with me, what can they expect?
We ask that patients and their support person remain in the room and refrain from walking in the halls and to and from hospital.
We ask that you and your support person plan for what you will need for your stay (e.g. extra food or change of clothes). If essential items need to be delivered to you in hospital, your support person can arrange to collect them at the hospital entrance. Your care team can assist you to make these arrangements.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, your support person will be asked to wear a surgical mask, eye protection, gown and gloves and wash their hands often.
How can I protect myself and my family while at the hospital?
Clean your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoid touching your face. We also ask that you and your support person remain in your room and refrain from accessing pubic spaces in the building. Visit our website for handwashing tips and additional resources.
I am pregnant and have flu-like symptoms or I suspect I have COVID-19 should I get tested?
How does COVID-19 affect pregnant women?
Pregnant women are not at more risk of acquiring COVID-19 (SARS CoV2), nor at more risk of getting severe disease than comparable aged adults. We are learning more about how COVID-19 impacts pregnancy and newborns every day.
At this time, there are no data suggesting an increased risk of miscarriage or early pregnancy loss in relation to COVID-19. There has also been no clear evidence of COVID-19 passing from mother to infant either in pregnancy or at delivery. Check the BC Centre for Disease Control for updated information.
Labour and birth
I am afraid that coming to the hospital will make me sick. Should I wait longer to come in if I have a concern?
It is safe to come to hospital during the pandemic. If you think you need to come to hospital for pregnancy-related reasons, call the labour and delivery unit and/or your primary care provider for advice on whether you need to come in to be assessed at that time.
Based on your situation, there may be times when it is advised to delay coming in (like in early labour) but if at any time you are worried this might be an emergency (e.g. active preterm labour, severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing or chest pain), call 9-1-1.
If you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19, it is recommended that you still complete the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool or contact your primary care provider, local public health unit office or call 8-1-1 (HealthLink BC).
Can my doula come to support me in labour?
As a member of your care team, your doula is welcome to come support you in labour as long as the doula is well and does not have symptoms of COVID-19. Your doula will be asked to wear the same protective equipment (like a surgical mask, eye protection, gown and gloves) as your nurse, midwife or doctor.
If I have been tested for COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19, how will that affect my birth in a Fraser Health maternity hospital?
When you arrive at the hospital, we will ask you and your support person to clean your hands and put on a mask. You and your support person will be cared for in a private room on isolation. This means that your care team will wear personal protective equipment (like surgical masks, eye protection, gloves, and a gown) over their uniforms.
It is recommended that we closely monitor your baby’s well-being using the electronic fetal monitor while you are in labour. Your doctor or midwife will discuss available pain options to meet your goals. When your baby arrives, we will help you clean your hands, chest and abdomen and ensure you are wearing your mask before we place the baby skin-to-skin.
Unless you or your baby needs extra medical attention, we expect to keep you with your baby at all times. Skin-to-skin and breastfeeding are currently recommended because the baby will get antibodies that you make to fight COVID-19 from you in your breastmilk.
Will my baby be tested for COVID-19?
If a mother has been tested for COVID-19 and the result is positive, the baby will be tested for COVID-19 as well.
You and your baby will likely go home before you know your baby’s test result. Your nurse will talk to you about what to watch for in your baby at home including:
- Fever or low temperature (<36.5 or > 37.5)
- Signs baby is having difficulty breathing or breathing too fast (more than 60 breaths in 1 minute)
- Poor feeding
- Diarrhea (poop is watery or bad smelling).
Call your doctor or midwife or call 8-1-1 if your baby develops any of these symptoms.
If your baby’s skin colour changes to blue or grey, this is an emergency – call 911.
What if I need to have a C-section and I have COVID-19 symptoms?
Most of the time, your support person will be able to stay with you during your C-section.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been tested for COVID-19, your care providers might decide that there are additional safety risks that may keep your support person from coming with you to the operating room. Every effort is made to bring the family back together as soon as possible after the birth.
I am COVID-19 positive should I continue to breastfeed?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through human milk because the virus is a respiratory illness transmitted through droplets when we breathe, sneeze or cough.
Human milk has antibodies and immune factors that protect the health of an infant. Breastfeeding is recommended and skin-to-skin contact should be facilitated during the COVID-19 pandemic with appropriate precautions to avoid spreading the virus. Hand wash before and after touching the infant. Wear a mask to minimize transfer of respiratory secretions during breastfeeding and cuddling.
Breastfeeding and COVID-19 (infographic).
I want to donate human milk but I am not comfortable going into the health unit or hospital what should I do?
COVID-19 and buying infant formula
Families are reporting challenges in purchasing infant formula in some stores. Formula is available and store supplies can be restocked. If you are required to self-isolate due to suspected COVID-19 infection, ask a friend or family member to purchase the infant formula during your 14 day isolation period.
What support will I receive once I am discharged home?
Public Health’s Best Beginnings program for prenatal and postpartum clients will continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contacts will be made either through the phone, a virtual clinic (FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp), health unit visit or home visit (if necessary). Clients who are participating in one of our enhanced home visiting programs services, will also continue to receive support.
Public Health will continue to offer immunizations services (primary series and special circumstance immunizations for adults) as well as STI (Sexual Transmitted Infection) services. For online resources, visit Fraserhealth.ca/pregnancy.
I do not have a family doctor to continue seeing my baby after birth. Are there any other options?
It is important that your baby is seen by a maternity care provider sometime in the first week after birth. Registered midwives in all Fraser Health communities can provide postpartum care for mothers and newborns who need it for up to six weeks after birth – even if you did not have care by a midwife in your pregnancy. Registered midwives can support patients in their homes or at the clinic. They also assess and support feeding, newborn weight gain, postpartum recovery, and adjustment to new parenthood. Registered midwives can additionally provide well-client care such as contraception counselling/prescribing and Pap smears.
If you are interested in this service, there are a few ways you can get connected with a midwife:
- Talk to your nurse to learn who may be available in your community (you can self-refer by calling a midwife in your area),
- The doctor who delivered your baby, pediatrician, or social worker can make a referral for you,
- You can go onto the College of Midwives of BC website and find a midwife in your area.
This services is offered at no additional cost for patients who have health care covered under the Medical Services Plan of B.C.
NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
If I have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19, will my baby need to go to the nursery after birth?
Most newborns who have been born to COVID-19 positive mothers have been healthy and have not needed any additional care.
Babies who need more complex care, (for example, those needing support adjusting to life outside of the womb or those born premature) may need specialized care provided in a NICU. If this happens, your doctor or midwife and health care team will support you with your questions and concerns specific to your baby’s situation.
You can also connect with with your local public health unit for more information.