Coronavirus COVID-19 Information 

Home birth

Updated: 31 December 2020

It is with regret that the decision was taken today to suspend the home birth service, with immediate effect. We have not taken this decision lightly and acknowledge how important it is for women and their families to have a choice in their place of birth.

Our ambulance services are currently overwhelmed and have informed us that they can no longer support timely emergency and non-urgent transfer of women choosing a home birth, to the maternity unit, if required.

This will be very disappointing for many women who have chosen to give birth at home but we feel that it is important to share this information with you to support you in making an informed and safe choice when planning where to birth your baby.

The safety of mothers and babies is our primary focus and it is essential that we have ambulance support to transfer mothers and babies, in emergency as well as non-urgent situations into hospital.

The suspension of the home birth service will be reviewed on a daily basis in conjunction with updates received from South East Coast Ambulance Services and London Ambulance Services. All changes will be cascaded to you by your community midwives and also posted on the Trust website.

Weekly updates regarding service provisions will also be posted on the Trust website.

Darent Valley Hospital has an onsite ‘Birth Centre’ which is located next to Aspen Ward on Level 3. On the Birth Centre, midwives care for women during labour and postnatally, in a small friendly peaceful environment. We offer an individualised approach for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, giving women the opportunity to labour and give birth as they wish. If you feel that this is something you wish to consider then please speak to your community midwife for further information.

For general advice concerning pregnancy, labour etc. please continue to call our 24 hour Maternity Assessment Unit as usual on 01322 428280 or 01322 428278

If you further maternity advice, our non-urgent advice email can answer concerns relating to pregnancy and COVID-19:

Thank you for your understanding at this difficult time and we will keep you updated of our progress to restart the home birth service.

Partner access

NHS England published a guidance document for NHS Trusts on the 14th of December 2020 entitled ‘Supporting pregnant women using maternity services during the coronavirus pandemic: Actions for NHS providers’.

We would like to provide an update for women and their families using our Maternity Services at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.

This document asks Maternity Service Providers to explore how they can safely support partners to attend all appointments throughout women’s maternity journey. We acknowledge and are currently undertaking risk assessments of all our areas to ensure safe implementation of the recommendations.

There are currently no changes to our partner access at this time. As you can appreciate, hospitals across England vary in size, making it difficult to make national decisions regarding partner support, visiting and access during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason these decisions are being made at a local level. 

Our overall aim is now and always has been, to continue to deliver care in a safe environment, minimizing risks to women, their families and our staff. We continue to support partners to attend all women in labour and to have partners support throughout the care pathway, including the 20 week scan appointment, where it is safe to do so.

Please be patient with us. We are doing the best we can to keep everyone safe. We will continue to work towards fully supporting partners to attend each appointment throughout the maternity journey and will keep you up to date on a weekly basis through our website.


Flu and Whooping Cough Clinic

We are pleased to announce that our Maternity Flu and Whooping cough clinic is running until 31st March 2021. If you are attending for any antenatal clinic appointment or ultrasound Scan (USS) appointment at DVH then you can come along and have your jab.

  • The Flu vaccine can be given at any time in your pregnancy.
  • Whooping cough can be given from 16 weeks pregnant.

Please come along to the USS Department where a midwife will be available Mon- Fri, 09:00-17:00 to vaccinate you.

The link below will provide you with further information on Flu and whooping cough.

We understand that whilst you are pregnant or a newly delivered mum, you and your family will have many concerns surrounding Covid-19. This is especially more so now that we are commencing a second national lockdown.

Rest assured that we are taking all the necessary steps to protect our patients and staff by implementing actions to limit the spread of this virus. To this end our Trust has introduced a number of measures to ensure our hospital remains a safe environment.

Please take your time to read all of the measures stated below. We will be reviewing all actions and updating our information every Monday or sooner if national guidance should change.

Face Masks: Everyone entering the hospital, including our pregnant mums must wear a face covering, unless they have been deemed medically exempt. Women can remove their face coverings during their labour and immediately following delivery. We kindly request that our delivered mum’s wear their face coverings in communal areas on the ward.

Antenatal Appointments: All community midwifery and hospital appointments will continue as normal, so please do attend. We are unable to support your partner/birth partner with attending any Midwifery or Consultant antenatal appointments either at the hospital or in the community. This unfortunately includes other children/siblings. However, if you need additional support with any of your appointments, please speak to your community midwife or a midwife in ANC. They will assess your requirements and make the necessary adjustments to measures that are in place to ensure that you are supported.

Ultrasound (USS) appointments: We are pleased to continue to support your partner/birth partner with attending the 20 week USS appointment. Unfortunately we are unable to extend this to any other USS appointments at present.

MAU visits: Other than attending for a labour assessment, women must attend all visits/appointments to MAU alone. 

Labour: Women can have one partner/birth partner with them when in labour, being induced or having an elective Caesarean section. However, no swapping of birth partners is permitted. Your designated partner can remain with you throughout labour but cannot stay overnight once the baby has delivered.

Visiting: Visiting hours are from 09:00 – 21:00. Your designated partner/birth partner can visit during this time. This must be the same partner that was with you during your labour. Children (including siblings) are not allowed to visit the Maternity Unit. 

Home Birth Service: At present we are unable to offer a full home birth service to all of our women.

Maternity Advice: Our non-urgent advice enquiry email can answer concerns relating to pregnancy and COVID-19. We will respond to your email within 5 working days. 

If your concern is urgent please contact the Maternity Assessment Unit (MAU) using the following number: 01322 428280 or 01322 428278

For general advice concerning pregnancy, labour etc. please continue to call either

Maternity Assessment Unit on: 01322 428280 or 01322 428278

Birth Centre on: 01322 428100 ext. 4925

Thank you for all of your continued support during this difficult time.