Find out what to expect from your maternity care at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust with our list of maternity frequently asked questions.

Coronavirus update for maternity patients

Our hospitals are making changes to help respond to coronavirus and protect our patients, staff and visitors. Key changes for maternity services are as follows:

Home births reinstated

We’re pleased to announce that our home birth service has been reinstated following a recent review of the service. If you plan to give birth at home, contact your midwife to discuss your options. For more information visit our home birth page.

Giving birth in our hospitals

At present women on low risk pathways who are not suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus can still choose to have a water birth in our birth centres or on our labour wards. 

We are currently still able to perform planned and emergency caesarean sections but would like to inform women who are booked with us that we may need to change the date of any planned procedure depending on staff availability. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this.

As the pandemic progresses we will continue to prioritise the safety of women and their babies. If there is a significant reduction in staff, it may not be possible to support planned caesarean sections which have no medical or obstetric indication. We may also need to review other planned caesarean sections which are not medically necessary.

We will keep this website updated with the latest guidance and thank you for your understanding during this unprecedented time.

Appointments

  • We will contact you to discuss any changes to your upcoming appointment. If we make any changes to your upcoming appointment we will telephone you otherwise please attend as planned
  • We may offer you a phone or video consultation to replace your upcoming appointment, but we will discuss this with you first
  • Glucose tolerance test appointments will still be held in hospital – if you have a glucose tolerance test scheduled, please come to hospital for that appointment
  • Please do not bring anyone to your appointment — you must attend your appointment alone to help prevent the spread of infection

Scans

  • We are continuing to offer ultrasound scans at 12 weeks and 20 weeks at present – if you have a 12-week or 20-week scan scheduled, please come to hospital for your scan
  • We will no longer offer ultrasound scans at 28 weeks*
  • We will continue to offer additional scans where clinically necessary
  • We may need to reschedule or postpone some scans depending on our clinical capacity. We will contact you to discuss any changes we may need to make to your scan appointments
  • Please do not bring anyone to your scan appointment — you must attend your appointment alone to help prevent the spread of infection

Birth partners and visitors 

  • You may have one named birthing partner with you for the duration of your labour and delivery
  • if you have a caesarean section with regional anaesthesia, you may have one named birthing partner present
  • birth partners will be asked to leave hospital when you are transferred to the postnatal ward, or about two hours after the birth of your baby
  • unfortunately, if your planned birthing partner has suspected or confirmed coronavirus, they will not be able to attend hospital with you
  • we thank you for understanding — this was a difficult decision, but it will play an important role in helping to prevent the spread of infection
  • if you have any questions when you arrive at our hospitals to give birth, please speak to your midwife

Antenatal classes and tours

  • We're launching a new online antenatal course for women who are at least 28 weeks into their pregnancies. PRISM: Postnatal Recovery, Inspiration and Support for Motherhood is a five-week online course delivered by our expert team. Learn more about the class and find out how you can register.
  • unfortunately, we are unable to offer tours of our units at this time
  • please see the Mum & Baby app for helpful information about pregnancy and our maternity services

Maternity helpline

  • Please contact the maternity helpline in the first instance with any questions about your care
  • The maternity helpline team will answer your questions, or transfer you to another team if required
  • The helpline is available at 020 3312 6135 Monday through Friday, 09.00 to 18.00 and 09.00 to 17.00 on Saturdays and Sundays

Maternity advice email service

If you are booked to have your baby with us and are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus or any other pregnancy-related problem, you can request a video or telephone consultation via email. Our doctors and midwives are available Monday through Friday, 09.00 to 16.30, to support you via video or phone.

If you’d like to request a video or phone consultation, email the following information to imperial.maternityhelpline@nhs.net:

  • Your full name
  • Your NHS number or hospital MRN number
  • A brief description of your problem
  • Your telephone number (mobile phone if you have one).

Please keep your phone on and close to you. You will receive a text message with instructions on how to join the video consultation, or a phone call. We aim to respond to enquires within two hours during our hours of operation.

*Changes to our maternity ultrasound services

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we have made the difficult decision to reduce many of our outpatient services, to keep those who need urgent care as safe as possible. We will no longer be offering pregnant women ultrasound scans at 28 weeks. We understand this decision may cause anxiety for you and your family, but we want to reassure you that a scan at this stage in your pregnancy rarely identifies concerns about your baby or how your baby is growing. If you would like to speak to a healthcare professional, please call our maternity helpline: 020 3312 6135.

Outstanding CQC

Your maternity care at Imperial College Healthcare

Thank you for choosing Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust for your pregnancy care. We provide care for women planning to have their babies at both St Mary’s and Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea hospitals.

Our most recent inspection by the Care Quality Commission, published July 2019, rated our maternity service at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea and St Mary’s hospitals as ‘outstanding’, the first such rating for a maternity service in London.

On this page, you'll learn more about using our maternity services — where to go for your appointments, how you check in, and what to do if you are experiencing pain or are concerned about your symptoms.

If English is not your first language, scroll to the bottom of this page and select your preferred language from the Google Translate menu on the right-hand side.

Where do I go for my first midwife appointment?

Your appointment letter gives you the address of the clinic that you should attend. Your appointment will be held at one of the following locations:

I have had some bleeding or I’ve been experiencing pain. What should I do?

You shouldn't wait for your first midwife appointment to report this as the midwife will not be able to scan you during the appointment. You need to see your GP to be referred to the early pregnancy department for a scan. If you cannot see your GP, or you are bleeding heavily or experiencing pain, you should attend an urgent care centre or A&E. They can also refer you to the early pregnancy department.

Visit our women in labour page to find out what to do if you think you might be in labour. 

What is the check-in process when I arrive for my appointments?

When you arrive at the clinic, please let the reception staff know. If you are attending appointments in the hospital, you can use the self check-in kiosks when you arrive.

If you would like online access to results, appointments and letters from Imperial College Healthcare through our secure patient portal, the Care Information Exchange, please provide your email address and mobile number when you check in at the kiosk. Visit the Care Information Exchange's website to learn more

What happens if I am running late?

We might not be able to see you if you arrive more than 15 minutes late for an appointment, as this might impact on other women in the clinic.

How long will appointments take?

The first midwife appointment takes about one hour. Follow-up appointments take about 20-30 minutes. Sometimes, we may need extra time to explain procedures or answer any questions you have. If women booked in before you have extra questions or more complicated needs, their appointments might run over time so you might have to wait longer to be seen. We are grateful for your patience.

Does my partner need to come?

You do not need to bring your partner to any appointments but they, or friends/relatives, are very welcome to join you if you want them to. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and emotionally supported.

When will I have a scan?

You will typically have a scan between 10 to 14 weeks, and a second scan at around 20-21 weeks. More information on the scans is available in the Public Health England's Screening tests for you and your baby leaflet.

How do I know when my next appointment is?

Your next appointment will usually be a first trimester ultrasound scan appointment, followed by a midwife or doctors' appointment at 16 weeks. The 16-week appointment should be attended without your partner, as this gives you some dedicated time alone with a healthcare professional. If you have more complex medical problems, you may have some extra appointments in addition to the routine appointments. See our antenatal care section for more information

Why are some appointments in the hospital and some in community or children’s centres?

If you live within the Imperial College Healthcare geographical catchment area, you should be seen at a community or children’s centre near your home, where it is more convenient for you to attend midwife appointments. If you live outside of the geographical catchment area, you will see a midwife in the hospital’s antenatal clinic.

There are exceptions and women who need one-to-one midwife care may be asked to come to the hospital’s antenatal clinic to see a named midwife who will look after them throughout their antenatal period.

Appointments with the obstetricians (maternity doctors), ultrasound department, fetal medicine department, obstetric medicine department and the anaesthetic clinic will be in the hospital.

Who will be looking after me during my pregnancy?

Most women will be looked after primarily by midwives. However, there may be times when you may benefit from seeing an obstetrician (maternity doctor). Your midwife will arrange this.

If the midwife would like an opinion from the obstetric team, we will send you an appointment in the doctor-led clinic. This may be in relation to:

  • medication you are taking
  • results from any of your tests
  • how you are feeling
  • other factors that might need more discussion

You may be offered extra tests after seeing a doctor, have a plan of care made for the rest of your pregnancy and delivery, or be advised to go back to midwife-led care.

You will always be directed to a consultant if there are any complex factors to address.

If you would like to see a doctor for any reason during your pregnancy, please let your midwife know and they will arrange one for you.

Who is the consultant in charge of my care?

You may be assigned a consultant at your first midwife appointment, depending on a) which community team you are associated with or b) your medical history. We would aim for you to then attend this consultant's antenatal clinic if you ever need a doctor’s appointment during your pregnancy. Some consultants work in teams and cover for one another, so you may not see the same consultant each time — you may see a member of their team instead.

Where can I find more information about keeping myself healthy during pregnancy?

Our physiotherapists run a healthy pregnancy class aimed at women between 12 to 20 weeks. This class will teach you exercises to help you manage common aches and pains in pregnancy, as well as strengthen your pelvic floor. To book onto the class please phone the therapies administration team on 020 3313 3072 between 08.00 and 16.45 Monday to Friday, or email imperial.womens.physiotherapy@nhs.net

Maternity services across north west London worked together to develop information to support you throughout your pregnancy and after you give birth. These booklets cover your antenatal care, birth options, labour and birth, postnatal care and more. They are available in English, Arabic, Gujarati, Polish and Punjabi — visit Healthier North West London's website to download these resources in the language of your choice.

We recommend the Mum and Baby app for women in north west London, which is available for download on Apple and Android devices — just search 'mum & baby' in your app store. You can also download the north west London Your pregnancy booklet

The Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also endorse an app called Baby Buddy: www.bestbeginnings.org

How do I change a scan appointment?

Visit our maternity ultrasound section for more information about scans.

What do I do if I cannot speak or understand English?

Our policy is that we must have official interpreters rather than family members or friends to help us communicate with you. Interpreters will either work face-to-face or over the phone. Please visit our outpatients section for more information about our interpreters service.

Is there parking available?

Did you know we also offer private services? 

We offer private maternity services at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, and all profits are reinvested in NHS and private services at the Trust. Visit www.imperialprivatehealthcare.co.uk for details.

We also offer private room upgrades for NHS patients – please speak to the maternity team for further information.