Coronavirus/COVID-19 Guidelines for Antenatal Teachers
Antenatal teachers provide expectant parents with an invaluable forum for sharing their fears, exchanging information and for learning strategies to help them have as happy and healthy a pregnancy as possible.
If you’re running online antenatal classes at the moment, you are bound to have parents asking you about Covid-19. Parents will be desperately worried about catching the virus and whether the virus can be transmitted to their unborn babies. They need both accurate information and help to combat stress.
Your aim will be to support parents as much as you can. To do this, you need to know enough about Covid-19/coronavirus to answer basic questions and to be able to suggest and teach strategies for managing stress.
Ten Top Tips for leading antenatal sessions during the coronavirus crisis
INFORMATION (for you and parents)
- Know where to find the best information to make sure you’re up-to-date and are able to answer parents’ questions (but remember that understanding the impact of coronavirus during pregnancy is very limited at the moment and parents need to understand this).
The Royal College of Midwives has published ‘Clinical Advice during the Crisis’ available at https://www.rcm.org.uk/clinical-advice-during-the-crisis/ and will be updating this regularly. This isn’t necessarily a site you would recommend to parents, but it’s helpful for you to know what information midwives are being given about the care of pregnant women and women in labour.
- Parents will be very concerned about who they can have with them during labour. This is the current recommendation https://www.rcm.org.uk/clinical-advice-during-the-crisis/ .
- For information about positive mental health during pregnancy, go to the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) website at: https://ihv.org.uk/families/parenting-through-coronavirus-covid-19/ Again, this guidance is being regularly updated by the iHV.
- The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has excellent information for pregnant women at https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a great question and answer section on COVID-19 and pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding at https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding
SUPPORTING PARENTS through ANTENATAL EDUCATION
- Your antenatal sessions offer parents a precious opportunity to share their fears with others in the same situation as themselves. So be open to parents speaking out about their concerns while ensuring that each of your sessions covers all the topics that are an important part of antenatal education in any circumstances.
- Perhaps what parents need most at this time is to relax. Easier said than done. Aim to spend a part of every session leading a relaxation activity. Explain how massaging each other and expressing affection stimulate the release of oxytocin – great for adults, for babies (unborn and born) and in labour for stimulating contractions! Encourage parents to share their own tried and tested methods of relaxing so that everyone gains ideas for relaxation that will work in their own lives.
- Don’t forget how worried fathers and partners will be! Emphasise that they, too, need to practise relaxation for their own mental health and to support the mothers.
- Encourage parents to support each other. They probably are doing so already but do check that this is happening. Suggest a virtual group if they haven’t yet set one up. Remind your groups that a combination of support and relaxation will make a huge difference to their own experience of pregnancy and their babies’.
- If you can, make time available for parents to speak to you individually. But make sure you look after yourself. Perhaps you might run a ‘surgery’ – setting aside half an hour or an hour on certain days of the week when you’re happy to hear from parents. You can’t be available all the time and parents will respect this.
THANK YOU FOR THE DIFFERENCE YOU ARE MAKING TO PARENTS AT THIS TIME!!
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