What To Know If You Are Having Your Baby During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Since March 2020, almost the whole world has been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From social distancing measures to wearing face masks in all public enclosed spaces, we have all had to make changes to the way we live our lives since the coronavirus outbreak, and this has put a great deal of pressure on most people. If you are expecting a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have fears and concerns about what the threat of coronavirus means for you and your unborn baby. We wanted to put together this ultimate guide to having your baby during the coronavirus pandemic so you have all of the information you need during your pregnancy and for once your baby is born. According to the NHS website, there is currently no evidence to suggest that you are likely to become more seriously ill from coronavirus if you are pregnant. However, pregnant women have been categorised as being clinically vulnerable as a precaution. This is because pregnant women are sometimes prone to becoming more ill with viruses like flu. Because COVID-19 is a new virus, experts are still not certain about how COVID-19 affects expecting mothers, therefore, they are in the at-risk groups who should take extra precautions (such as shielding) to prevent becoming infected. There is currently no evidence to suggest coronavirus causes complications in pregnancy or miscarriages. If you are pregnant it is important to:
- Follow government guidance on social distancing – be aware that this information changes as infection rates go up or down and as the virus spreads, so keep up to date on the most recent information, advice, research and statistics.
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Stay at home as much as possible – ask friends or family to bring you essentials and groceries if you can
- Keep your distance from anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus
Scans and Appointments During the Coronavirus PandemicIt is still important that you continue to go to scans and antenatal appointments. However, during the pandemic you might find that some appointments will take place virtually (via video/phone call), you may be asked to wear a mask and/or hospital gown during appointments and some appointments may be cancelled and rescheduled. Always speak to your midwife or doctor about any concerns you may have.
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If You Start to Show Symptoms of Coronavirus While PregnantIf you begin to show symptoms of COVID-19 while you are pregnant, it is vital you do all of the following:
- Stay at home (self-isolate) for 10 days – if you begin to show symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home. Anyone in your support bubble or who you live with must also self-isolate if you have been in contact with them since your symptoms started or within the 48 hours before your symptoms began
- Get a test – if you have COVID-19 symptoms, you can order a test online (these usually arrive the day after you order them) or you can go to a drive-through testing site to get test results immediately. Anyone in your support bubble or who you live with should also get a test
- Let your midwife/doctor know you have symptoms – whether you just have symptoms or a positive coronavirus test, it is important to let a member your maternity team know. This way they can give you the best advice on how to treat your symptoms and when to get emergency help/treatment if you need it. It also allows them to start planning for your birth if it is likely that you will still be infected.
- Always contact your maternity team immediately if you start to show other symptoms (which may be unrelated to coronavirus) such as: your baby is moving less than usual or there is a change to their moving patterns, you cannot feel your baby moving at all, you have vaginal bleeding, you are feeling very anxious, you have a persistent headache or you have unusual shortness of breath (such as when resting)
Should You Still Deliver Your Baby at the Hospital? Is it Safe?Having your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic is an anxious and stressful prospect. Some of the options you have been considering might not be available any longer, you may have concerns about the hygiene of the environment you give birth in or your birth plan may just not be what you had envisioned. Our advice is to develop a flexible mentality. Remember that, though it was not what you imagined, your maternity team will still involve you in any decisions that need to be made in the run up to your labour to ensure you are as safe and comfortable as possible. You may be concerned about the risk of contracting coronavirus while you are in hospital, owing to the large number of COVID-19 patients; but hospitals and their medical teams have stringent protocols and procedures in place to ensure people with COVID-19 are quarantined in separate parts of the hospital to non-COVID-19 patients. For this reason, experts say that you should not feel concerned about giving birth in hospital. Even so, you should still take extra precautionary measures to keep yourself safe when you are inside a hospital, such as:
- Wearing a face mask
- Keeping a 2-metre distance between you and anyone you do not need to come in closer contact with (such as your midwife/nurse)
- Wash/sanitise your hands regularly (Generally good practice to avoid viruses, bad bacteria and disease spread)
- Wipe down surfaces you will regularly encounter such as doorhandles in your delivery room, bed railings etc
Can You Have Your Birthing Partner/Visitor with You at Scans and Appointments?Before the pandemic, your birth partner (or just someone for support) could accompany you to all your antenatal appointments and scans (prenatal). However, to reduce the amount of people entering hospitals, the NHS has advised that visitors are only permitted for
- 12- and 20-week scans
- Fetal Medicine appointments
- Breech Clinic appointments
Can You Have a Birthing Partner or Visitor with You During Labour?You are allowed one birthing partner during labour and birth provided they do not have symptoms of coronavirus, but there may be a limit on how long they can stay after the birth. If your birth partner does have symptoms of coronavirus, they may not be able to accompany you, so have a back-up birth partner on hand just in case.
What if You Go into Labour After You Test Positive for Coronavirus?Even if you test positive for coronavirus before you go into labour, you will still need to give birth in a hospital, but there will be different measures taken to ensure you and your baby will be properly cared for. If you are having your baby while infected with COVID-19, you will be advised to give birth in a unit led by a doctor (obstetrician) and in an area of the hospital that is only dedicated to women with coronavirus. Your birth team is likely to be wearing extra PPE (face masks, aprons, eye protection etc) which is purely to keep them, your baby and yourself safe. Having coronavirus while you are in labour should not impact whether you have a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section. You can still have a birth partner if you have tested positive for COVID-19, provided they have not tested positive themselves. They will be required to wear PPE during the labour and birth and will need to leave the hospital soon after the baby has arrived. Your midwifery team will respect your birth wishes as closely as possible while doing everything they can to keep you and your baby safe under the circumstances.
After you give birthIf you have given birth after testing positive for coronavirus, you should still be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby after they are born, and you should be able to breastfeed. There is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be transmitted to your baby through nursing. Breastmilk offers protection to your baby’s immune system so it is important to breastfeed if you can and you choose to. Provided your baby is well, they can remain with you. However, if complications arise, they may need to be transferred to a neonatal unit.
Are You and Your Baby at Increased Risk of Catching COVID-19?We know it is possible for people of any age to become infected with coronavirus. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that healthy babies are at higher risk of becoming severely ill with coronavirus and there have been relatively few cases of COVID-19 in children. As for the mother, there is no evidence to suggest your immune system is compromised after birth. Having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic should not put you at any greater risk of infection but you should still follow government guidance on reducing your chances of contracting the novel coronavirus by following social distancing measures, washing your hands regularly and staying at home as much as possible.
How to Care for Your Newborn During the Pandemic
Bringing your baby home from the hospital for the first timeNothing should change about the way you return home from the hospital after giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic, provided you are not severely ill with coronavirus and your baby is healthy. In terms of going home, try to avoid public transport and have someone you live with or someone in your support bubble drive you home if possible. Discuss taking your baby home with your healthcare team if you have concerns. A fantastic hospital-bag essential is a Snugglebundl. This lift and lay baby transfer blanket will help to keep your baby asleep while you get them home, making the journey from the hospital less stressful for you and your new baby. Read on in this article to find out more about the Snugglebundl.
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Caring for Your Baby While Social Distancing/During LockdownWith fewer events in your schedule and no work to go to, having a baby during the coronavirus lockdown may, in some ways, simplify caring for your new baby. You have extra time to bond with your little one and you are always in the comfort of your own home; but you may also feel emotionally overwhelmed owing to the lack of contact with your loved ones and the general challenging nature of the pandemic overall. Whether you are a single parent or living with a friend or partner, the COVID-19 restrictions will challenge you, especially with a newborn, so here are a few important factors to bear in mind when caring for your baby during the pandemic:
- Closely follow government rules, restrictions and guidelines – these include but are not limited to social distancing, washing hands regularly, wearing masks on public transport, in shops and public enclosed spaces and staying at home as much as possible (you must stay at home if a national/or local lockdown is being enforced)
- Continue to breastfeed if you can – breastfeeding provides your baby with the nutrients they need to build and strengthen their immune system which is always important, but especially so in these current times
- Ensure your baby has a safe and comfortable space to sleep – while families are at home so much and under immense pressure due to the pandemic, it’s vital to ensure you are still reducing your baby’s risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) as much as possible. Making sure your baby has somewhere firm, flat and waterproof to sleep is essential
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus, avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby and separate your sleeping space from theirs to prevent infecting them
- If your baby seems unwell (high fever or cold), you may be tempted to wrap them up warm. However, according to the Lullaby Trust, babies need fewer layers to lower their body temperature
- Currently, there is no requirement for babies to wear masks like adults. Do not put a face mask on your baby as this may cause a potential risk of suffocation.
- Wash your hands before you touch or handle your baby – especially when out of the house
- Register your baby with your GP as soon as possible – this will mean you can get help easily if you need it
- Continue to take your baby to their doctor appointments – Doctors will be keeping contact with their patients as minimal as possible, but this certainly doesn’t mean you should cancel your baby’s appointments. Speak to your paediatrician and discuss which appointments you should still attend.
Make Sure You Are Taking Care of Yourself Properly as Well as Your BabyYou will find it much easier to look after your newborn if you are paying good attention to your own wellbeing.
- Eat healthy food
- Drink plenty of water
- Take gentle exercise - such as postnatal yoga or a socially distanced walk in the fresh air. Exercising can help with anxiety, depression and is important for keeping you physically and mentally healthy
- Ask for help with shopping and errands from a friend or relative
- Ask for help with childcare from your partner, someone you live with or someone in your support or childcare bubble
- Get as much sleep as possible – taking care of a newborn inevitably breaks up your sleep pattern and it is highly likely that you will have some sleepless nights, but take every opportunity you can to get some extra shuteye, such as when your little one is napping or when your partner is on baby-duty
- If you are feeling anxious or depressed and you are not sure why - you could be experiencing postpartum depression. Speak to your doctor as soon as possible, they will tell you what you can do to get relief from these symptoms
- Go to your postnatal appointments if your doctor advises you should
Get Your Baby a SnugglebundlSnugglebundls are great for both parent and baby. A lift and lay transfer blanket which is designed a little like a hammock with handles, the Snugglebundl allows you to lift your baby without disturbing their sleep, meaning they can sleep for longer, undisturbed periods and you can take them out shopping or on a walk without waking them up! The Snugglebundl has many fantastic features:
- Use in the car seat (fully safety and crash tested) – babies are bound to fall asleep in their car seat and it is very difficult to lift them out without waking. The Snugglebundl allows you to transfer a sleeping baby out of their car seat undisturbed
- Use to rock baby to sleep – it can also help to soothe colic and reflux
- Great as a playmat – unfold the panels to make a versatile playmat
- Lay down baby without waking if they fall asleep while nursing – you can use the Snugglebundl while you breastfeed, in fact, it also makes a great nursing cover for mothers who want one
- Snuggly nap wrap feature – thanks to the ties on the side you can wrap baby up warm and cosy for their nap
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Will You Still Receive a Health Visitor During the Pandemic?The UK’s healthcare services are working under immense pressure and are doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe. Therefore, the visits you might have expected could be rescheduled, cancelled or conducted virtually. Currently, Health Visitors are still operating and visiting parents with newborns. You should still have your New Birth Visit 10 to 14 days after the birth of your baby. You should receive a telephone call to book a home visit with your Health Visitor where you can discuss how you and your baby are, share information you may need and plan together how they can support you and your family. Your Health Visitor will book your 6-to-8-week appointment.
Can Your Newborn Have Visitors During Lockdown?Bringing a baby home in the days before the pandemic would usually mean a flood of new visitors keen to meet the new arrival. But having your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic is a little different. Coronavirus remains a threat to the health of ourselves and everyone around us, meaning all of the UK is required to social distance and stay at home during lockdown. We must come to terms with the new normal of being physically distant from our loved ones, which is especially challenging when a baby arrives. With the restrictions in place currently (and during lockdown) you cannot have visitors or meet anyone outside your household or support bubble.
Who Can Form a Support Bubble?If you are eligible, you can create a support bubble with another household, meaning you do not have to maintain social distance with members of this household. You can form a support bubble if:
- You live by yourself – even if carers visit you to provide support
- You are the only adult in your household who does not need continuous care as a result of a disability
- Your household includes a child who is under the age of 1 or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- Your household includes a child with a disability who requires continuous care and is under the age of 5, or was under that age on 2 December 2020
- You are aged 16 or 17 living with others of the same age and without any adults
- You are a single adult living with one or more children who are under the age of 18 or were under that age on 12 June 2020
Childcare BubblesIf you are eligible, you can form a support bubble as well as a childcare bubble. Childcare bubbles are different from support bubbles. You may be able to form a childcare bubble with one other household to provide or receive childcare if you live with someone under the age of 14. Unlike support bubbles, childcare bubbles must not meet socially – for babysitting purposes only. You should avoid seeing members of childcare and support bubbles at the same time. This means that you can have a bubble to provide emotional support, company and childcare and you can have a bubble that is purely for childcare (but you must keep physical contact to a minimum).
How to Keep in Touch with Your Loved Ones Outside Your Household and Support/Childcare Bubbles?Being distant from your family and friends has become the norm since March 2020 and there is no doubt that it has put immense pressure on everyone, especially new parents. Therefore, we have compiled a list of ways to keep in touch with your favourite people while social distancing restrictions are in place.
- Have regular video calls – Zoom, Facetime and Skype have become top socialising methods. See your loved ones face to face and introduce them to your new baby
- Meet outdoors for a socially distanced walk with a friend – When on your own, you can exercise outdoors with someone outside your bubbles or household provided you maintain social distancing. As children under school age or children who require around the clock care do not count towards the total you can take your baby with you and meet with someone else who also has a baby. Pop your baby in their Snugglebundl so they can be cosy and warm outdoors!
- Set up group chats – maintain contact with your closest friends and family by creating a group chat where you can catch up regularly
- Write letters – it may seem old fashioned but writing letters to your friends and family gives you a chance to catch up in detail. If there is ever a time to bring writing letters back into fashion, it’s during lockdown!
- Pick up the phone – speaking to the people in your life and hearing their voice may help with your mental health and is a great way of keeping touch
Can Your Baby Still Get Their Vaccinations?Your baby can still get their routine vaccinations as normal and you should go to your appointments unless you, your child or someone you live with has tested positive for coronavirus or has symptoms. There are currently no plans to offer the coronavirus vaccine to babies.
What to Do if You Need More SupportIf you are struggling mentally or physically with the thought of having your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic then you should always seek help to get on top of the problem before it gets worse.
- If you are pregnant and you have concerns or questions speak to your maternity team or midwife. You can also see some guidance on the NHS website about having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/
- If you are a new parent or a new family, you should still have a Health Visitor approximately 10 days after your baby is born. You can speak to your Health Visitor about any concerns you might have or how to get more help
- If you need help with day-today things you can call the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 – they can help you with things like grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and taking you to appointments or the hospital
- If you are struggling with childcare, you can form a childcare bubble with someone outside of your household. This web page gives guidance on how to form a childcare bubble: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-a-childcare-bubble-with-another-household
- If you are mentally struggling during the pandemic there are resources designed to help you through. Always speak to someone if you feel like you cannot cope with your emotions. Find resources here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/
- Don’t feel like you can’t share your struggles with your loved ones. Talking about what is going on in your life helps to feel like things are not so heavy
Always Reach OutDuring this time where we must be so distant from the people in our lives, it is easy to feel isolated, but there are resources designed to help you through your pregnancy and the first months of your baby’s life, so you are never truly alone. Below is a list of some more resources to get you through this difficult time:
- Find information about Health Visitors, extra support and more here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/services-and-support-for-parents/
- Find out more about having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic here: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/
- Find out about support for families here: https://www.home-start.org.uk/pages/category/support-for-families-during-covid-19
- Buy the Snugglebundl here: https://www.snugglebundl.co.uk/product-category/baby-blankets/