Having a new baby can be challenging enough at the best of times, but given the current circumstances it’s understandable if you (or someone who know) is a new mum (or dad) and is facing additional worries about COVID-19. There’ll probably be concerns for your own health, concerns for your baby’s health and worries about how postnatal services will look for the next few months.
There are fortunately, a number of resources available to help answer some of the questions you might have, which should help to allay some of those fears. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is the UK authority on women’s health and has recently published a Q&A document about COVID-19 and pregnancy that includes information for postnatal care. The NHS has produced a leaflet ‘Coronavirus: Parent information for newborn babies’ which you may find helpful, and the baby charity Tommys has also issued some great advice ‘Bringing your baby home during the pandemic.’
These are all reliable information sources that provide sound advice based on up-to-date knowledge and best practice. While it’s worth reading the information (or getting dad to read it!), some key points for new mums:
Note: the information provided below is general advice and may not apply to every individual. If you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health, then make sure you seek medical advice as quickly as possible.
- RCOG advises that there’s no evidence that women who’ve recently had a baby and are otherwise well are at increased risk of catching COVID-19, or of becoming seriously unwell. A recently pregnant women is considered to have a normally functioning immune system, unless there are other infections or underlying illnesses present.
- Both the NHS and RCOG state that newborn babies don’t appear to be at high risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus.
- Anyone visiting you (in line with the latest information about who you can meet outside your household in your area) should follow the guidance for social distancing and pay strict attention to hygiene precautions (including regularly washing hands). RCOG also reiterate that we are still learning about coronavirus, and if restrictions are lifted then it’s a good idea to avoid large family gatherings to celebrate your little one’s arrival until more is known about virus transmission.
- If anyone who visits has symptoms of any illness, including coronavirus, then extra care should be taken when handling your new baby.
- If you are worried about your baby’s health during the pandemic then don’t put off getting medical advice. If your baby has a fever, lethargy, irritability, poor feeding or any other symptoms you may have concerns about then make sure you speak to a healthcare professional as quickly as possible.
- There’s no evidence that breastfeeding can transmit coronavirus from mum to baby (if you think you might have the virus). The NHS advise continuing breastfeeding even if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection.
- As well as following guidance for hygiene & sterilisation measures when bottle feeding, or if you’re breastfeeding, if you think you have coronavirus then RGOG & the NHS recommend you try to avoid coughing or sneezing (as this is how COVID-19 is mainly spread) on your baby when feeding. You could also consider wearing a mask or face covering as an additional barrier to infection spread.
- You’ll still be able to access postnatal services, so don’t worry that you’re not going to be able to get individualised support from healthcare professionals. In early June, the NHS provided guidance to all maternity teams that the first post-natal appointment should be a face-to-face visit at home following birth. Following this, you may have a mixture of face-to-face appointments or telephone consultations where appropriate and depending on the needs of you and your baby. Remember, you can always contact your GP, and the NHS 111 helpline and emergency services are available round the clock if you need them.
For more information the following links might help:
For general information about the postnatal period during COVID-19:
Advice for parents during COVID-19 is available from the NHS and also the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health:
BLISS has also published information for parents of newborns who were born prematurely or are poorly, during COVID-19: