A CLYDEBANK health visitor has told the Post community teams are working hard to continue caring for new and expectant mothers, but says staff shortages due to coronavirus are having a profound impact on the service.

Pauline MacDougall, a community practice teacher and health visitor, has advised that any woman who is under the care of a midwife or health visitor should contact them if they need reassurance about the service they can expect, in a bid to reduce further anxiety.

She said: “All new mothers will continue to be supported following the birth of their baby, especially first-time mothers.

“Our service will be monitoring the effects of this current situation and its impact on mothers, children and families as a whole.

“As time goes on, anxiety will no doubt increase, and we work closely with the local authority, especially education and social work, to ensure that our caseloads are fully supported.”

But Pauline also stressed that the current guidelines are subject to change due to the growing demands on the NHS.

She said: “The challengefor both services is if staff are self isolating due to illness or family illness, and contacts therefore will have to be covered, patients may experience care from another registrant or colleague.

“All new mothers will have direct contact with their health visitor, as most are working from home, even if self-isolating, and have work mobiles. Office answering machines are being monitored and messages picked up regularly.

“Services such as baby and child immunisation clinics are continuing at this time, and I would urge all mothers to keep their allocated appointments and not defer.

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“This will both protect the child and build up herd immunity from other equally potentially harmful diseases and illnesses.”

Health visitors are keen to reduce any additional stress on mothers, and Pauline says they understand this time can be worrying without the added uncertainty.

But she urged mums-to-be to follow guidelines, for their own safety and that of their baby.

Pauline explained: “I think that the main difficulty for new mothers is the isolation from extended family members at what should be a joyous time.

“However it is important that they continue to follow the government’s guidance and continue isolation at home for their own safety.”

Clarifying what pregnant mothers can expect when they give birth, a spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde told the Post: “We want to thank all staff for continuing to care for patients and keeping them safe in response to Covid-19.

“We realise what a momentous occasion birth is, and at the moment we are still supporting women to have one birthing partner present during labour.

“In exceptional circumstances, such as when the mum or baby is very unwell, the clinical team may allow the birthing partner to be present for a longer period.

“The birth partner must be in good health, with no Covid-19 symptoms or from a self-isolating household.

“Unfortunately we are not able to allow any visitors into the hospital following the birth.

“We recognise that this is far from ideal. However, these restrictions are in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of the new mother and their baby.

“We appreciate women will want to share the joy of their baby with family members, but would ask for understanding as we battle Covid-19 and do everything we can to maximise infection control.”

Anyone concerned over the new advice and guidelines can contact Clydebank Health Centre, where they can request the contact number of the community health visitors.