COVID-19 pre-admission testing
Information for pregnant women
Our priority is to keep you and your baby safe.
This is why we are testing ALL pregnant women who need to be admitted overnight to our maternity department. Testing is for ALL women, regardless of whether you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or not.
How pre-admission testing works
If you are being booked to attend for an elective admission (e.g. Induction of Labour or Caesarean Section), your midwife or consultant will arrange for you to have a pre-admission test at our Women’s Hospital at a pre-booked time.
Please enter the main Women’s Hospital car park and follow the orange signs for the ‘Pre-booked Swabbing Station’ located in the far corner of the car park.
Please park in one of the allocated parking bays and proceed as advised by the staff member who books your swab. The test for COVID-19 is a swab taken from your throat and nose (both nostrils). The swab looks like a long cotton bud and takes only a few minutes to perform. Once complete you will be asked to leave the site.
Preparing for your admission
In addition to the pre-admission testing, it is important that you self-isolate once your swab has been taken, making sure you do not come into contact with anyone who is unwell ahead of your admission date, further protecting you and your baby from the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Pre-admission testing results
Results are usually back within six hours; on some occasions this may be a little longer. We’ll contact you with the outcome of your results by phone or in person; depending on your circumstances.
If you had your swab a few days before admission, then you will be contacted by phone. If you are already in hospital then staff looking after you will give you the result as soon as it is available. If you have gone home then you will be contacted by staff by phone so please make sure that we have the best number to contact you on.
What your results mean in relation to your care
The questions and answers below should hopefully answer many of the questions you might have.
If after reading these you still have questions please talk to your midwife or contact our COVID-19 Maternity Hotline on 0121 335 8234.
Covid-19 Positive Swab
Any COVID-19 positive women will be looked after in a separate area, often an individual room. Women may be asked to wear a mask and will use separate toilets and bathrooms.
Covid-19 Negative Swab
COVID-19 negative women will be cared for in an area with other negative women. You must still take precautions to prevent infection including social distancing and regular hand washing.
Covid-19 Swab result not yet known
In these circumstances where admission to one of our wards is appropriate, you will be cared for in a bay with other women awaiting their result, or COVID-19 result unknown. We will provide you with a surgical mask to wear whilst your result is unknown and ask that you do not move around the ward to comply with social distancing requirements. We will advise you which toilet and bathroom to use and may ask that you keep your curtains drawn around you. Once the result is known, we will transfer you into a different room.
Pre-admission testing for pregnant women frequently asked questions
Why am I being offered screening for COVID-19?
Our priority is to keep you and your baby safe. That is why we are now testing all pregnant women who need to be admitted overnight to our hospital, even if you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. It is currently expected that a low number of women will have a positive result without having any symptoms of COVID-19 (about 1–2%).
How is the swab taken?
The test for COVID-19 is a swab taken from your throat and nose (both nostrils). The swab looks like a long cotton bud.
Why is it important for me to have the screening test?
Knowing whether someone has a negative or positive result helps the doctors and midwives plan the best care for you. This includes making sure you are placed in the most appropriate areas for your care. It also provides you with information so that you can protect yourself, your baby and those who you live with. It also helps us to plan and respond to your care and treatment needs whilst keeping our staff safe too.
If you are attending for a planned admission to hospital, it is important that you self-isolate once your swab has been taken. It is especially important that you avoid contact with anyone who is unwell ahead of your admission date. This will protect you and your baby from the risk of contracting COVID-19.
How long does it take for result to come back?
Results are usually back within six hours; on some occasions this may be a little longer. If you are a planned admission for induction of labour or elective caesarean section and have had your swab a few days before admission, then you will be contacted by phone. If you are already in hospital then staff looking after you will give you the result. If you have gone home then you will be contacted by staff by phone so please make sure that we have the best number to contact you on.
What does it mean if I have a negative result?
It means that at the time that the swab was taken, no COVID-19 coronavirus could be detected, however it does not tell you if you have already had the infection. You must still take precautions to prevent infection including social distancing and regular hand washing.
What does it mean if I have a positive result?
It is unclear what the significance of a positive screening result is in the absence of any symptoms.
If you do not have any symptoms, it may mean that:
- You have had a mild infection in the last 28 days; after the start of symptoms, the test can remain positive for up to 28 days even though a person no longer has symptoms and is no longer infectious.
- You have a current asymptomatic infection (infection without symptoms that you are aware of).
- You are currently incubating COVID-19 disease and will have symptoms of infection in a few days.
Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do to identify which of the above reasons apply to someone who has a positive result, which means that we have to treat anyone with a positive result as potentially infectious. You are then required to self-isolate for 10 days. We will review the need for your admission and decide, with you, if this can be moved or goes ahead as planned.
This may impact the presence of your birth partner if they live with you as they are then required to self-isolate for 14 days. The midwife will discuss this with you when you are informed of the result.
What do I need to do if I develop symptoms after the screening?
If you are incubating COVID-19 disease, you can develop symptoms up to 14 days after the positive screening test; however most people would start to have symptoms within 1-4 days of the test. If you do develop symptoms, you must let us know, as pregnant women who have symptomatic COVID-19 have an increased chance of having a blood clot in their legs. You may then be advised to have blood thinning injections for 7-10 days if you do have symptoms. If you have gone home, a prescription will be arranged for you with a link to a video to show you how to inject yourself.
What do I need to do if I have a positive test result?
Following a positive screening result you will be required to self-isolate for 10 days. This will include your baby. The rest of the household (people who live in your house with you) should socially distance from you and your baby as much as possible, since it is not known from whom or where you caught this virus. The other people in your house should self-isolate for 14 days and, if anyone develops symptoms, then the Public Health England Stay-at-Home guidance should be followed, available on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-homeguidance.
What symptoms are typical for COVID-19 coronavirus infection?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 infection are:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you develop any of the symptoms above you should self-isolate at home even if you had a negative screening test.
What does it mean if I have a positive result for my birth?
You will be contacted by one of the midwives or doctors to discuss your admission. It may be that we can postpone it, but only if it safe to do so.
The health of both you and your baby takes priority. This may impact the presence of your birth partner if they live with you as they are then required to self-isolate for 14 days and are not allowed to leave the house or accompany you to hospital. The midwife will discuss this with you when you are informed of the result. We are advising pregnant women to have an alternative birth partner to the person they live with for such times.
Because you have tested positive for COVID-19, your birth partner must understand that they may then also have been exposed to the virus and will have to self-isolate for 14 days following their attendance as a birth partner. We advise all birth partners who decide to attend under these circumstances that;
- They must not leave the birth room for any reason including vaping/smoking
- They will be asked to wear a mask provided by the hospital at all times
- They must bring their own food and drinks in with them
- They will not be able to go into theatre if this is required in an emergency as there is an increased chance of infection
- They will be asked to leave once your baby is born and you transfer to the ward
This is to prevent the virus spreading within the unit and to the wider community.
What about my baby if I have a positive result?
It is extremely rare for babies to have COVID-19. It is more likely that your baby will be well enough to be taken home. In the vast majority of births, your baby will not need to be screened for COVID-19. Once at home you will need to self-isolate for 10 days from when your swab was taken, with your baby. You are advised to wear a face covering when feeding your baby, and to be careful to always clean your hands before touching your baby.
If your baby needs to go to the Neonatal Unit, you will not be able to visit the baby for 10 days from the date of your swab being taken.
No-one can visit if they are required to self-isolate until the period of self-isolation has ended and, if they have been unwell, until they have no symptoms for at least 48 hours.
The neonatal staff will discuss screening for your baby with you for COVID-19 as needed.
Will I be screened again if I come back into hospital?
Yes but only if you are likely to require an overnight admission and if it is longer than 72 hours since you were last screened. The screening result is for that point in time. You may have been exposed to the virus between admissions so you will be offered screening again. If your screening was positive, you will not need to be re-screened as we know that you have been Covid positive.
The exception to this is if you develop moderate to severe symptoms while you are in hospital which affect your breathing. This is because there are other causes of infection than COVID-19 and we need to make sure we are treating the right one.