Pregnant women should take special care to observe social distancing, especially late in their pregnancy, a top York midwife says.

Debbie Scott, York Hospital's maternity matron, says there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus.

There is also no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage if women develop Covid while pregnant - or that the virus will cause problems for their unborn children.

Nevertheless, pregnant women are classed for medical purposes as being at 'moderate risk' from the coronavirus.

The advice to all pregnant women, therefore, is to follow the latest government guidelines on social distancing - and to avoid anyone who has symptoms that might be due to the virus, she said.

Women in their third trimester (ie more than 28 weeks’ pregnant) are advised to be particularly careful.

In an exclusive interview with The Press today, Mrs Scott talks about the measures being taken by maternity staff at York Hospital to protect mums, mums to be and babies.

Women don't stop having babies just because there is a pandemic, she said. And inevitably, some pregnant women do contract the virus.

Most Covid-positive mums-to-be show few or no symptoms, she said. "They're generally quite fit and healthy." But maternity staff have to take precautions to protect them and to prevent the virus spreading.

All pregnant women coming into hospital to give birth are tested for the virus as soon as they arrive - and isolated on a labour ward side bay until the results come through. Those who test positive are moved to a special isolation area.

Staff wear full PPE, including face masks, eye protectors, gloves and gowns, during delivery. And while partners are allowed to be with mums during birth, they are only allowed onto the post-natal ward afterwards by appointment.

Mums understand the need for the restrictions, Mrs Scott said - even the PPE staff wear. "We say to women 'I'm smiling!' And they say 'we can see from your eyes that you are!'"

‘Women still have babies in lockdown!’ - pages 20&29