Being a new parent during COVID-19 has its challenges. While some of the resources for new parents seem unavailable due to policies around social distancing and sheltering in place, it is important to know that you are not alone. Here are some ways to protect yourself and your newborn from COVID-19.
While there is no way to ensure that you will have zero risk of infection, you need to understand the risks and how you can stay as safe as possible. This means that when you think of who can visit you at the hospital or at home with a newborn, you have to consider that you are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 the more people you interact with, how closely you interact with them, how long those interactions are, and how often they come over to your place.
With this in mind, limit interactions as much as possible with people who might have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19, including members of your own household. As a new parent, you have the prerogative to ask friends and family whether they have been doing their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
You have the right to ask if potential visitors have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 and what the results of their COVID-19 tests were if they took one recently, before you let them come and see you and your newborn. If they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive with COVID-19, you can ask them to quarantine for the prescribed amount of time before visiting.
You should also limit interactions with people who are not members of your own household.
When going out for essential errands or if you need to interact with people who are not family or members of the same household, wear a mask. It is nota substitute for other preventive measures such as frequent handwashing and avoiding close contact with others, but you will have more protection from COVID-19 when you wear a mask.
It is important to note that children under 2 years old should not wear masks. Because babies move frequently and are unable to remove a mask, putting a face mask on them increases the risk of suffocation or strangulation. There is also no data supporting the use of face shields on infants as a way to protect them from COVID-19.
Now more than ever, it is important for you to work with your and your child’s healthcare providers for guidance on newborn care. You would need to take your newborn to regular visits either in-person or through telehealth, to monitor your baby’s development, especially with their feeding and growth. Make sure that your baby gets the immunizations to protect them from diseases.
Your child’s healthcare provider can give you more advice on what to expect during the first few weeks or months of life, and how to address issues that are common but still need monitoring such as checking for jaundice and conducting general health screening, among other things. Your child’s healthcare provider should also give you counsel on how you can monitor and prevent infections in general.
If you have to bring your newborn to a healthcare facility for an in-person visit, you may want to read the following:
- If I must go to the hospital, what should I do to protect myself from COVID-19?
- How do I protect myself when I go to the hospital for treatment or COVID-19 testing?