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Pregnancy and shielding / social distancing

32 replies

Cocktails4One · 04/08/2020 09:42

Hello - hope someone can help me with this as I'm guidance advice online quote vague (might just be me). I'm 6 weeks pregnant and have family members tell me I have to shield from now until the end of my pregnancy. Meaning not going to shops or public places and continuing to work from home. Is this true? Obviously I am overjoyed to be expecting and will do what I can to keep my baby safe but I do feel quite sad at the prospect of being stuck at home for the next 7 months and then starting mat leave! x

OP posts:
Cocktails4One · 04/08/2020 09:43

*I meant I'm finding the guidance online quite vague (sorry for poor spelling)

OP posts:
killerofmen · 04/08/2020 09:45

No, that's not true and most regions in the UK are stopping or pausing the shielding advice. You should follow the same advice as everyone else to protect against coronavirus.

physicskate · 04/08/2020 09:46
nether · 04/08/2020 09:47

Your family is wrong

Shielding is now paused for everyone.

Even when not paused, it was required in pregnancy only for those who have certain specified cardiac issues. If in doubt about whether this applies to you, discuss with your cardiologist.

Normal pregnancy in someone of normal health purpose you in the 'vulnerable' list (not exceptionally vulnerable, might be recalled to shielding if cases rise list)

This means you need to take care about social distancing (2m unless mitigated), wash your hands frequently, and see if you can WFH. There is no reason to avoid shops etc, and you can have unlimited outdoors exercise and leisure.

physicskate · 04/08/2020 09:47

Rcog not rich!

Shuckle · 04/08/2020 09:53

Nope not at all, you are vulnerable but not extremely vulnerable unless you have other conditions which would put you in the extremely vulnerable category. I believe the phrase for pregnant women is to be "extra vigilant" with social distancing and hygiene measures - which lets face it, everyone should be doing anyway. Do whatever you like and enjoy. I'm 39 weeks pregnant right now and I've still been to cafe's and shops same as everyone else but being cautious with my mask and handwashing and keeping away from others. I haven't been into a packed pub of an evening as I don't feel comfortable but that might be more because I can't be bothered with the queuing and waiting if I can't drink anyway!

Shuckle · 04/08/2020 09:57

Also regarding work - you can ask them if you can WFH, and they can ask you to, but you don't HAVE to either. I started my maternity leave last Thursday and I haven't been allowed into the office since march, I have been working at home for four and a half months. I've struggled a bit with the loneliness and lack of socialising with colleagues but it was manageable, and they were insistent I wasn't to be in the office. You might be able to negotiate mostly working from home, with occasional office days, if you wanted but be prepared they may decide that they want you at home to reduce their risk assessment headaches!

Redlocks28 · 04/08/2020 09:59

There is no such thing as shielding any more, your relatives are wrong. All our pregnant staff are returning to work.

Rainbowafterthestorm · 04/08/2020 10:14

That’s never been the case (unless you have underlying heart conditions). You just have to be more stringent with social distancing. Shielding is being lifted for the extremely vulnerable too.
In terms of work, most pregnant women are returning from wfh. Some places are still allowing you to wfh if they can . However be careful what you agree to, I’ve been wfh since March (I teach so schools have been shut anyway) and it’s really starting to affect me. I’ve asked to go back to work in sept and I am having to fight it.

Also be aware, the world turns into scientists where pregnant women are concerned and will offer their own opinions, and do the whole ‘you need to think of your baby speech’, which makes me feel really rubbish, RCOG gives quite a bit of scientific detail into vertical transmission so have a look into that.

Cocktails4One · 04/08/2020 10:24

Thank you so much, I feel so reassured. It's exactly that...I'm worried about getting comments about "not thinking of my baby". So will read the NHS and rcog guidance. Feel utterly miserable at home and need to get out!

OP posts:
AldiAisleofCrap · 04/08/2020 10:28

There is no such thing as shielding any more, yes there is, there are thousands of people still shielding in the U.K..

ekidmxcl · 04/08/2020 10:31

You definitely should take more care than the average person. It’s a fact that pregnancy alters the immune system.

I don’t think you need to go as far as shielding but I’d just make sure you are careful with distancing and don’t go to indoor gatherings where you can’t keep good distance or where there are several people.

Natalie654321 · 04/08/2020 10:31

I am currently 26 weeks pregnant. I have been going to shops but have avoided eating/drinking out. I am returning to work when my school opens on the 24th August (I am a teacher). Work places need to make sure you have a risk assessment that allows you to come to work.

Hanrora06 · 04/08/2020 10:42

@Cocktails4One Basically, yes everyone above is right, we are classed as clinically vulnerable but not extremely vulnerable. And yes it is a pain in the arse to figure out exactly what the guidance says but basically socially distance, two households indoors, six people/two households outdoors.

This is the guidance from here

If you are clinically vulnerable you:

can go outside as much as you like but you can still try to keep your overall social interactions low
can visit businesses, such as supermarkets, pubs and shops, whilst keeping 2 metres away from others wherever possible or 1 metre plus other precautions [i.e. masks]
should continue to wash your hands carefully and more frequently than usual and that you maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and/or workspace

When you get to the third trimester though it's different. Basically, most hospitalised women due to covid have been in their third trimester so for work that means that they must have a risk assessment (standard) but that risk assessment must ensure thay can socially distance to 2m. If not you must either WFH or go on medical leave. There's info on this on the RCOG
which the govt website links directly to.

danielasummer · 04/08/2020 10:53

This is a great thread - thank you OP @Cocktails4One for starting it as I am nearly 22 weeks pregnant and only just starting to go to the supermarkets now. I did have a MMC last year so I'm super paranoid about covid messing this all up for me!

I was wondering if those of you who are teachers could help - my husband goes back to work in September as a secondary school teacher; I'll be 26/27 weeks pregnant at that point. I'm really nervous about this as the school are having all students back (large school). Should he be following the same guidance as pregnant teachers should? I don't even want him to go back but I know that is 1) impossible and 2) unreasonable! TIA 🙂

EBM20 · 04/08/2020 10:54

I'm 24 weeks pregnant. I found out that I am pregnant the day they advised pregnant woman to 'shield' as it was only early days I went to work as usual and didn't mention it, just made sure I was socially distancing, cleaning everything with antibac constantly and washing my hands and using hand gel constantly, everyone at work did think I was going ott, I just blamed it on anxiety and wanting to be careful (worked in a hotel) I was in my notice period in my job and so 2 days later just told my boss just to make them aware as I was struggling with morning sickness. The job I was supposed to be going to dropped the offer so I picked up a temporary job at Tesco, by this point shielding for pregnant woman stopped, it did like a week later as there was no evidence and I checked with my midwife it was safe to work and she said as long as social distancing and regular hand washing is in place. So I worked at Tesco for 13 weeks, they knew I was pregnant and kept me behind the tills where social distancing was able to happen. I worked comfortably and didn't have a worry for the whole 13 weeks I was there. I recently started a job doing food and beverage at a local theme park at 22 weeks pregnant but it's not worked out and I'm in constant worry of the amount of people and the lack of social distancing, although handwashing is strict and we have to sign a sheet every half an hour to say we have washed our hands. Now at 24 weeks pregnant I was approached by a hotel where I applied for a job over a month ago and was offered the job and start next week at 25 weeks pregnant, I felt a lot more at ease being in a place where social distancing was happening and in a more controlled environment with knowing who is in the hotel and not extreme amounts of people. I've eaten out a few times but booked a table during non busy periods like 2pm, after the lunch rush. I've been shopping a few times but I aim to go in the evening during the week as I've found that its relatively quiet. I carry a pack of disposable masks, anti bac gel and anti bac wipes wherever I go.

So go with your gut on what you feel comfortable with. I will be going on leave at least 2 weeks before my due date and only going out in the final 2 weeks where I have to, just to minimize the risk of having coronavirus when in labour.

Strawberries4days · 04/08/2020 11:09

I'm 28 weeks pregnant now and in Scotland. I did at the start when it was advised in march but now I've been to the shops and had a bite to eat out once ( the restaurant we picked was empty but had staff wearing face masks and spaced environment so I felt safe). We decided not to do it as often as we used to but to have some sort of freedom. But as everyone said before OP, just be safe, wash your hands, wear a mask and don't go to over crowded environments. Congratulations 🎉🎉

SexTrainGlue · 04/08/2020 14:09


There is no such thing as shielding any more, yes there is, there are thousands of people still shielding in the U.K..

You're right. It has paused in England, Scotland, and NI, and will pause on 16/08 in Wales
Rainbowafterthestorm · 04/08/2020 20:30

You can work @Hanrora06, under the august 1st guidelines

The RCOG advice is for health workers which states you must wfh or it go on medical leave. The RCOG advice isn’t applicable to all occupations only health workers.

To the OP, really read websites from top to bottom (even if they are from links on the gov website), over the last few months a lot of links have been links to out of date advice or aimed at health care workers only, some people only read half of the info then try to advise you (I even had to state some of these facts to my HR department).

sarahc336 · 04/08/2020 20:36

Nope pregnancy no longer classes us as vulnerable Smile

sarahc336 · 04/08/2020 20:38

Nope pregnancy no longer classes us as vulnerable Smile
Also meant to say I'm 25 weeks and I'm out and about, shops, super markets, cafes and no one has ever made a comment to me about the fact that I should be shielding, if you want to stay in then you should but if you want to go out with a mask then also totally fine, it's yours call xx

Hanrora06 · 04/08/2020 20:44

@sarahc336 We are still classed as clinically vulnerable. We just aren't extremely clinically vulnerable. See my post above for what the guidance is for us. But basically you are totally right that you can go to shops etc. Only pregnant women with underlying health conditions have been shielding and are classed as extremely vulnerable. It's such a nightmare of different guidance at times, it's confusing!!

Hanrora06 · 04/08/2020 21:01

@Rainbowafterthestorm thank you for this! you are right that it does mention healthcare workers specifically, and of course you are right that pregnant women can work. However as far as I can tell, this guidance for healthcare workers does or can still apply to pregnant women in certain public facing roles, especially those in which it's particularly hard to socially distance- in particular in education, the DfE links to the RCOG guidance

It says:

Staff [working in education] who are pregnant

Pregnant women are in the ‘clinically vulnerable’ category, and are generally advised to follow the above advice, which applies to all staff in schools. Employers should conduct a risk assessment for pregnant women in line with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW).

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG) has published occupational health advice for employers and pregnant women. This document includes advice for women from 28 weeks gestation or with underlying health conditions who may be at greater risk. We advise employers and pregnant women to follow this advice and to continue to monitor for future updates to it.

So - basically you are right that there are a lot of confusing and misleading links going around and a lot of misunderstood guidance. Employers and HR don't understand it anymore than anyone else. However, it is my understanding based on reading the RCOG website that the document "Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and pregnancy – guidance for healthcare professionals: Version 11 – 24 July 2020", published here,, was designed for healthcare workers (clearly, it's in the title) however, their advice for pregnant women more generally is taken from this document- they say here-

Our clinical advice for pregnant women on the risk and potential implications of being severely affected by COVID-19, particularly affecting those who are at 28 weeks' gestation or above, still stands.

However, specific guidance on how and when pregnant women can safely work should be advised on a individual basis, following employer-led workplace and indvidual risk assessments.
[this is important as obviously it depends on the setting- some would be totally fine to work as usual as long as they want to, some would not]

The RCOG recommends that employers use the clinical advice when performing mandatory risk assessments for their pregnant employees, along with other sector-specific advice published on the UK government, Working safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) and NHS Employers websites.

OK so this is a little confusing still but I am reading this as that they published the document for healthcare workers as clearly they're the most vulnerable plus it's much harder for them to socially distance at work, BUT they're applying it to all pregnant women, and so putting the onus on employers to ensure that social distancing is possible for all women in third trimester. But- then it's not really explictly laid out that that's the case anywhere on the govt website that I can find, besides obviously the DfE as I've mentioned. It seems to still be very unclear and open to interpretation which is massively unhelpful as no doubt it will be applied wrong.

If you are getting any other information, please share it as I am searching everywhere and everything I find is a little different and so it's basically impossible to get some clarity. This is the best breakdown of what I understand as I can find!

Hanrora06 · 04/08/2020 21:03

Barely any of my bolding worked so now it's just a big wall of text...but I hope it makes sense anyway.

Hanrora06 · 04/08/2020 21:07

@danielasummer this is a really good question. I think he will need to speak to his school about a risk assessment for him as someone with a clinically vulnerable partner. I assume they will have stuff like that in place! I'm not sure it would mean he should follow the same guidance as a pregnant teacher though...I'd say he needs to get in touch with his union for sure if he hasn't already.

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