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The Coronavirus: What you need to know as a parent

Heather Morris, a Registered General Nurse and a State Certified Midwife of over 25 years provides us with some answers to common concerns parents may be feeling surrounding Covid-19.

The world has become an increasingly uncertain place, particularly if you’re a parent or expecting a baby. There’s so much information about Coronavirus, it can be difficult to know what to believe, which can make it even more worrying. We’ve asked Metanium’s resident health expert Heather Morris to explain some of the facts and latest guidelines about the virus. Hopefully, this might help to ease some of your anxieties just a little. Information is always changing so we’ll add regular updates.

 

PREGNANCY AND CORONAVIRUS

If you’re expecting a baby and heard that the Chief Medical Officer has placed pregnant women in a ‘vulnerable’ group, this may sound scary. But rest assured it doesn’t mean you’re more likely to get the virus which causes COVID-19. It just means you need to be extra careful to protect yourself and your baby. Hand hygiene and social distancing advice should be followed very carefully. The Department of Health has useful information about social distancing.

Social distancing is even more important after you reach week 28 of your pregnancy and it’s recommended that you try to stay at home as much as possible. Whatever the situation is with COVID-19, always ask for professional advice when you need it. If you think your baby’s movements have changed in any way or you have concerns about your baby, do not hesitate to call your midwife or doctor immediately. The health of you
and your baby always come first.

Even if you do become infected with COVID-19, you are still most likely to have no symptoms or a mild illness from which you will make a full recovery. Severe symptoms like pneumonia are more common in older people and those with long term health conditions. [Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2020]

 

ANTENATAL APPOINTMENTS 

Antenatal appointments and care are still essential for mums and babies. If you have a routine appointment booked, it’s worth talking to your maternity team to see what they advise. They may recommend reducing the number of antenatal visits you have and some of your appointments might take place over the phone or through video calls. It’s strongly advised that you don’t reduce your antenatal appointments without agreeing
first and discussing with your maternity team.

When you do need to go for an appointment you will be asked to keep the number of people with you to a minimum. This is likely to include being asked to not bring children with you. If you are self-isolating because someone in your household has possible symptoms of COVID-19, you should let your maternity team know and your appointment may be deferred for 14 days.

 

GIVING BIRTH 

You will still be encouraged to have a birth partner with you when you are in labour and during birth. Your partner should not be showing any signs of possible COVID-19 infection. There may be local restrictions on the number of visitors on both antenatal and postnatal wards. This will be decided by individual hospitals, so it's worth checking. [RCOG,2020]

 

BREASTFEEDING AND CORONAVIRUS 

If you’re breastfeeding and think you may have symptoms of COVID-19, you can still feed your baby breast milk. There is no evidence of the virus being carried in breast milk and the benefits outweigh any risks. The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infective airborne droplets of the virus with your baby. You may decide to express your milk and ask someone who is feeling well to feed your baby. But if you choose to breastfeed yourself, you can take steps to help prevent infecting your baby:

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby
  • Try to avoid coughing or sneezing when you are in close contact with your baby
  • If you’re unsure, ask your healthcare team for more advice.

[Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 2020]

 

HOUSEHOLD ISOLATION

If you or a member of your family becomes ill with COVID-19, everyone needs to stay at home for 14 days. This starts from the day the first person became ill. Anyone who remains well at the end of the 14 days is unlikely to be infectious. If any ill person in the household has not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, they should contact NHS 111 online. If your home has no internet access, you should call NHS 111. [Public Health England, 2020]

 

PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY

Clean your hands frequently by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser. This will help protect you and your family. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of passing on the infection. Also, follow the latest guidance
about social distancing.

If you think someone in your family has coronavirus, be careful when washing clothes and don’t shake dirty laundry as this can spread the virus. But all dirty laundry can be washed in the same load. When cleaning you can use your usual household products, like detergents and bleach, as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. It’s important to regularly clean frequently touched surfaces like door handles, handrails, remote controls and tabletops. [Public Health England, 2020]

PETS

Despite some social media reports, there is no evidence that family pets like dogs and cats can be infected with coronavirus. [Public Health England, 2020]

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED MEDICAL HELP

If you need medical help for any reason, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service.

If you need help or advice not related to coronavirus:

  • For health information and advice, use the NHS website or your GP surgery website
  • For urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service – only call 111 if you are unable to
    get help online
  • For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance

Reference sources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and pregnancy – guidance for healthcare professionals: Version 5 - 28 March 2020 published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, with input from the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus- pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/ Public Health England – Stay at home advice (30th March 2020)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at- home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection