Lockdown: What is the advice for parents with newborn babies and should they self-isolate?
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds had a new son on Wednesday morning, Downing Street announced
Carrie Symonds and Boris Johnson are among thousands of new parents around the country who have brought a baby into an uncertain world, as lockdown continues in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Both contracted and subsequently recovered from Covid-19 shortly before the birth of their son on Wednesday, meaning they cannot pass on the virus, and they will soon return to Downing Street to continue lockdown.
It is a tricky time for many new parents, as hospitals which would normally be a place of comfort and safety are now places to avoid in order to keep themselves and their babies clear of the coronavirus.
New parents must consider the risks and take precautions, but there is plenty of clear recommendations out there in order to keep families healthy.
Can newborn babies catch coronavirus?
Yes, it is possible for babies to contract the coronavirus, although evidence so far indicates they are far less likely to suffer significant symptoms than adults. Many babies will not show any signs of illness and will recover fully. Some may develop an unstable temperature and/or cough.
If your baby has a cough or fever, you should call NHS 111. The Baby Check app also has 19 simple checks parents can do if their baby is showing signs of illness, and it will output a score that indicates the baby’s state of health (note: it does not diagnose Covid-19). If still in doubt, call 111.
Should new mothers self-isolate after giving birth?
Yes. The NHS advises leaving hospital as soon as it is safe to do so, and following government guidelines to self-isolate.
Advice for new parents is not to leave the home, other than to exercise once a day while maintaining social distance of two metres (three steps) from others. No visitors should be in the home and ideally food, medicine and any other essentials should be ordered online or dropped off at home by someone else. These items should be left outside.
How do I help prevent my baby catching coronavirus?
The NHS recommends a number of steps to minimise the risk of your baby contracting Covid-19:
- Hand washing before touching the baby, breast pumps or bottles
- Hand washing after nappy changes and contact with other members of the family
- Avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby whilst feeding
- Following pump cleaning recommendations after each use
- If you feel unwell, ask someone who is well to feed your baby with expressed milk
- If using a bottle follow sterilisation guide-lines fully
Can I hold my baby if I have Covid-19?
Yes. The WHO stresses: “Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive.” It says new mothers should be supported to breastfeed safely with good respiratory hygiene. Skin-to-skin contact is encouraged, as is sharing a room with the baby. Wash hands after touching your baby and keep all surfaces clean.
Can I breastfeed if I have Covid-19?
Yes. It is fine to breastfeed with coronavirus, according to the WHO. Mothers should:
- Practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask where available
- Wash hands before and after touching the baby
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched.
If you are too unwell to breastfeed, the WHO recommends finding someone to support to either express, practise relactation or use donor human milk, depending on preference.
Should I bedshare with my baby if I’m ill?
The Lullaby Trust advises that your baby sleeps in a separate space, such as a cot or Moses basket, in the same room as you.