PREGNANT women with appointments in Basingstoke or Andover are being asked to wait in their car before being asked to come inside.

The new advice from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) asks women to remain inside their vehicle and to text their midwife for community clinics or call reception for hospital appointments when they arrive.

They will be asked to enter the building for their appointment when clinic staff are ready to see them, to reduce the number of people in waiting areas to help with social distancing measures and reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The trust is also making arrangements to run clinics in other locations because some GP surgeries have closed.

Pregnant women with underlying health problems like diabetes, heart or lung disease such as significant asthma are being asked by the trust to consider self-isolating, as they maybe more at risk from Covid-19.

HHFT has suspended all its antenatal classes and tours of the maternity unit during the pandemic.

Whilst it is continuing to support women who are well to give birth in Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover, as well as at home, the trust said: “This may be reviewed on a daily basis as the situation changes”.

It advises pregnant women to contact Labour Line when labour begins for the latest information.

Currently, women are allowed only one birth partner with them in labour, and this person is the only visitor allowed during their hospital stay.

Pregnant women have also been told that if they are self-isolating because someone in their household is unwell, they will give birth in Basingstoke’s maternity isolation area, where they will be encouraged to have an epidural to reduce the chance of needing a general anaesthetic.

They will not be allowed to use a birth pool.

Babies born to someone who is self-isolating will be tested for the Covid-19 virus.

The same applies to women who have symptoms of the virus themselves.

Information on the trust’s website states: “At present there is no evidence that women who may have Covid-19 need to change the way they are intending to give birth.”

The trust has advised that birth partners who have symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19 should self-isolate and not attend the unit with their pregnant partner.

It said: “We understand that this may be stressful or upsetting, so please think about a potential alternative birth partner who may be able to accompany you.”

The trust is encouraging all women to consider breastfeeding “to help protect the baby”.