Coronavirus and miscarriage: your care
On this page, we share information on how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is impacting access to hospital services for those who are pregnant or experiencing a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy, current information for those thinking about trying to conceive and for those awaiting investigations.
Last updated: 18 May 2020
We all know that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major impact on many lives and especially on access to healthcare. NHS services need to focus on the most ill and most vulnerable people and we are all being asked to avoid using GP, community or hospital services as much as possible. This helps us to protect NHS patients, the staff caring for them, ourselves and each other.
Early pregnancy and maternity services are no different, so we hope the following information helps you to understand the impact this might have on anyone affected by pregnancy loss.
Access to hospital services for people who are currently pregnant or experiencing a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy
With increased pressure on the NHS due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most early pregnancy units are having to limit the service they provide:
- to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus for people coming into a hospital environment
- to reduce the risk of spread within the hospital and
- because of reduced staff numbers caused by sickness, self-isolation and because of staff being moved to different departments, such as emergency care.
Wendy and Barry describe their experience of having a miscarriage during the coronavirus pandemic, with reduced access to hospital services.
However, anyone who needs emergency care for severe pain, very heavy vaginal bleeding, possible ectopic or molar pregnancy or other acute symptoms will still be seen and assessed in person, either by the specialist team or in the Accident and Emergency Department.
New information from the RCOG on early pregnancy care
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has published a guide to early pregnancy services during the coronavirus pandemic. While it focuses mainly on women and couples in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, it is equally helpful for anyone who is not yet booked with a midwife or an antenatal clinic.
There are very likely to be limits on ultrasound scans and most hospitals will allow only the woman being scanned to attend her appointment. Some will allow use of a mobile or smartphone for part of the appointment so that the partner or other supporter can take part remotely but that will depend on the individual hospital’s policy This can be very distressing, we know.
There will be fewer non-emergency surgical procedures under general anaesthetic, so women with a missed or incomplete miscarriage or a ‘blighted ovum’ or anembryonic pregnancy are more likely to be offered only natural (expectant) or medical management of miscarriage at home rather than being treated in hospital. We provide more detailed information about these options and what they mean for you on this page. And Amy shares her experience of medical management during lockdown here.
Ectopic pregnancy assessment and management
Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition, so early assessment and treatment are crucial and access to care should remain as normal. See here for more information.
Molar pregnancy diagnosis and management
With fewer women having surgical management, it may take longer for some molar pregnancies to be diagnosed, so it’s very important to contact the hospital if a pregnancy tests is still positive 3 weeks after your loss. But once molar pregnancy has been diagnosed, care and follow-up will be as normal. You’ll find more information on our molar pregnancy pages, starting here.
If you are pregnant or currently experiencing a loss
If you need urgent advice regarding your pregnancy, you are encouraged to telephone your local Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit or Emergency Gynaecology Unit, or your midwife or antenatal clinic if you are already booked with them. It’s important to be as clear as possible about your symptoms or worries to help staff to assess your needs and advise on next steps. Please be assured that if you need emergency care for severe pain, very heavy vaginal bleeding, suspected ectopic pregnancy or other acute symptoms, then you will be assessed in person and seen accordingly.
If you are not pregnant, but planning on trying for a baby
The Association of Early Pregnancy Units suggests that you consider waiting until the pandemic is over before trying to conceive. This is to minimise the burden on the health service, to ensure you have full access to early pregnancy and maternity care and because it is too soon to fully understand the effect of the virus in pregnancy. But everyone’s circumstances differ and this will always be your decision.
If you are waiting investigations following recurrent or second trimester miscarriage
Investigations into the possible causes of recurrent miscarriage or late loss are currently suspended in most hospitals, but there are plans to reintroduce them gradually over the next few weeks. As with other services, this will depend on the availability of specialist staff, some of whom have been diverted to other areas of care during the pandemic.
Information, guidance and support
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has general up to date information and guidance on pregnancy and Coronavirus at www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/.
And of course, you can contact us at the Miscarriage Association for information and support. We don’t give medical advice but we can help you think through how best to manage at this time.
You can call us: 01924 200799 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
We know that picking up the phone and talking to someone you don’t know can sometimes be a scary experience. But we’ll do everything we can to make you feel comfortable, to listen and understand and to answer your questions to the best of our abilities.
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We talk about pregnancy loss and mental health here.