Understanding coronavirus and caring for your newborn baby

    Mother holding newborn baby during coronavirus COVID-19
    Published: 22 May 2020.

    No amount of prenatal planning can prepare you for life with a newborn baby in quarantine. We answer the questions you’ve been asking while socially isolating with your new little one…

    Before lockdown, the first few weeks with a newborn meant recalibrating to your new life as a parent amid a whirlwind of visitors. Now, new parents find themselves adjusting to becoming a new parent and coping with lockdown in the midst of a global pandemic. We’re here to help answer your concerns and keep your family healthy and safe at home. 

    After the birth, am I at increased risk of catching coronavirus?

    If you’re healthy – no. A recently pregnant woman’s immune system is considered normal – so, unless you have an infection, or have an underlying illness, there is no evidence that you’re at an increased risk.

    How will I know if my baby has coronavirus?

    According to the NHS, even if your baby does get the coronavirus, many won’t show any signs of illness and will recover fully. The NHS has issued this tiered guidance for parents: if your baby has a cough, fever or feels unusually hot or cold – but is otherwise well – call NHS 111. If your baby is jaundiced or feeding poorly in the days after leaving hospital, call your midwifery team. But if your newborn shows anything that concerns you in relation to their breathing, colour or movement, call 999 straight away.

    Can I still breastfeed my newborn baby if I have coronavirus symptoms?

    In short – yes. There is currently no evidence to suggest that coronavirus can be transmitted through breast milk; in fact, the main risk is the close contact between you and your newborn. If you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus, remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before touching your baby, and try to avoid coughing and sneezing on them during the feed. According to the NHS, even in a global pandemic, the benefits of breastfeeding still outweigh any potential risks of your child getting the virus. For more information you can visit read the RCOG Guidelines on coronavirus.

    What about bottle-feeding? 

    Again, make sure you wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) before touching your baby, and when you’re feeding, try to avoid coughing or sneezing on them. If you can’t find your usual brand of formula in the shops, don’t worry! It’s fine to switch to another brand.

    Will I still have support after the birth?

    New parents are having to cope without the usual face-to-face interaction they’d receive in the early weeks but support is still there – just in a different form. Health visitors have moved to video and telephone calls to check in with families, and breastfeeding advisors are still helping new mothers over the phone. The NCT breastfeeding support line on 0300 330 0700 is open, or visit their web page.

    Can my baby get their vaccinations?

    Yes, it’s super important that your baby has their vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Call your GP surgery for more information.

    Can I have visitors?

    Unfortunately not. Due to the current government guidance, this isn’t possible, but there are other ways to introduce your baby to the world – Skype, Zoom and Facetime, for instance. And, at least with in-person get togethers on hold, you get all of the newborn baby cuddles to yourself.

    Can I go outside for a walk with my baby?

    Yes – it’s a great opportunity to get some gentle exercise, fresh air and vitamin D with your newborn baby. Do ensure you stay 2m away from other people, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    How can I have fun with my baby during isolation?

    You can find lots of fun activity ideas for 0-5 year olds from Hungry Little Minds, and the BBC’s Tiny Happy People. Learn the calming art of newborn baby massage on YouTube, or make a memory book of this time which older kids will love looking back on. Finally, do make contact with other new mums through hospital groups or the NCT, and organise a virtual coffee – hopefully, it won’t be long before you can all meet in person.

    Don’t forget, Vitality members can get access to a 12 month Jennis subscription, with choice of either pregnancy or postnatal support depending on what stage you’re at. You will need to sign up before 30 June 2020 to get access to a 12 month subscription