We know this may still be a worrying time for everyone and that you may have particular concerns if you are pregnant or have a baby. We have put together the following advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby that is currently available and will keep updating this.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby
If you have a young baby, continue to follow public health advice:
- Continue to breastfeed your baby if you are doing so
- It is important that you continue to follow safer sleep advice to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). We understand that isolating at home and/or working from home can put additional pressures on families, however it is really important that your baby has a safe space to sleep – firm, flat and waterproof sleep space in the same room as you for all day and night sleeps
- If you show symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) try not to cough or sneeze on your baby. Make sure they are in their own separate sleep space such as a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for all day and night sleeps
- If your baby is unwell with a cold or fever don’t be tempted to wrap them up more than usual. Babies need fewer layers to lower their body temperature. Click here for more advice on temperature and here for more information about our Baby Check app. Please note the Baby Check app does not diagnose/test for COVID-19
- Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby – either linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other health issue click here for more information about our Baby Check app. Please note the Baby Check app does not diagnose/test for COVID-19
- If you have questions about safer sleep contact our information line on 0808 802 6869 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taking your baby to a clinic during the Covid crisis
During this time you may be worried about taking your baby for their routine appointments at your GP surgery or clinic. You may be anxious about what to expect when you get there, which is understandable. We have worked with some of the people who might help to look after you and your baby to help you understand what it might be like. It is really important that you take your baby to any appointments they have, or to get help if you are worried about their health.
Things will be a bit different and you may find that:
- Reception staff and nurses will be wearing PPE; Reception staff wear masks, nurses are in a gown, apron, paper mask and visor. Some staff are drawing animal faces on the masks to make it a bit easier for babies and children to look at
- There may be fewer people at the clinic as most are having telephone conversations with doctors. Anyone with Covid symptoms is asked to stay at home, so there are very few people attending clinics at the moment. Babies are a top priority.
- You will be asked to wait in the waiting room as usual, however as it is quiet you should be able to stay 2 metres apart from others.
- Clinics have a regular cleaning rota, and you might see people cleaning around you
- You may have a few appointments combined into one – for example a six week check and first vaccinations.
- The staff will get you and your baby checked as quickly as they can so you probably won’t have to wait for long. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance to ask questions though, so make sure you write down what you might want to ask or say before you go.
Some tips for you:
- It’s important to go to your appointment unless you or you baby or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus or you are having to self-isolate.
- You can book an appointment by calling your GP surgery or speak to your Health Visitor for further advice.
- Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby – either linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other health issue click here for more information about our Baby Check app. Please note the Baby Check app does not diagnose/test for COVID-19.
- Try and take your baby with just one adult, and keep other adults and children at home if you can.
If your baby has not had their 6-8 week check the Institute of Health Visiting have produced some guidance on what you should do
Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice in pregnancy
- As soon as you find out you’re pregnant speak to a GP or midwife.
- They’ll support you and give you all the information you need. They’ll also make sure you receive safe and personal maternity care.
- If you’re pregnant, it’s important to follow advice about how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19, such as washing your hands regularly. If you’re more than 28 weeks pregnant it’s especially important to follow this advice.
According to the (RCOG) Roughly two-thirds of pregnant women with COVID-19 have no symptoms at all, and most pregnant women who do have symptoms only have mild cold or flu-like symptoms. However, a small number of pregnant women can become unwell with COVID-19. Pregnant women who catch COVID-19 are at slightly increased risk of becoming severely unwell compared to non-pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester. Pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution.
- Although it’s very rare for pregnant women to become seriously ill if they get COVID-19, it may be more likely later in pregnancy. If this happens, there’s a small chance your baby may be born early or you may be advised to give birth earlier than your due date.
While the chances of having a stillbirth are low, there is some emerging evidence that the risk may be higher if you have COVID-19 at the time of birth.
- It may be possible for you to pass coronavirus to your baby before they are born but when this has happened, the babies have got better.
- There is also no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 infection in early pregnancy increases the chance of a miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy.
Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- Vaccination is recommended in pregnancy. You can get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you’re pregnant and aged 18 or over. Receiving two doses of the vaccine is the safest and most effective way of protecting you and your baby from COVID-19 infection (read our Q&As about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy for more information).
- As COVID-19 restrictions ease across the UK, pregnant women who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, may choose to limit the close contact they have with those they do not usually meet with in order to reduce the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, particularly if they are in the third trimester and when COVID-19 disease levels in the general community are high.
- Keep mobile and hydrated to reduce the risk of blood clots in pregnancy.
- Stay active with regular exercise, a healthy balanced diet, and folic acid and vitamin D supplementation to help support a healthy pregnancy.
- Contact your maternity team if you have concerns about the wellbeing of yourself or your unborn baby.More information on pregnancy and COVID-19 is available on the NHS website.
Appointments and scans
You’ll still have regular appointments and scans while you’re pregnant. But there may be some changes.
You may find that:
- some midwife appointments are online, by phone or by video call.
- you may be asked to wear a mask or gown when you’re in a hospital or clinic.
- you may be asked to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
- some appointments may be cancelled or rescheduled – your appointment will be rescheduled or you’ll be able to rebook.
This is to help keep everyone safe and stop the spread of COVID-19.
If you’re unsure if you can bring your partner to your appointment, ask your midwife or maternity team.
If you’re well, it’s really important you go to all your appointments and scans for the health of you and your baby.
Hospitals and clinics are making sure it’s safe for you to go.
Other things to consider
When you are visiting family or friends with your baby remember it is still important to continue to follow the government guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.
If things are feeling overwhelming and you are increasingly anxious it is important to talk about this with your Health Visitor.
If you are feeling anxious now that lockdown has lifted this the NHS has some useful tips https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/coronavirus/tips-to-cope-with-anxiety-lockdown-lifting/
It is important to try to look after your mental health as well as your physical health – this website has some useful tips. The Institute of Health Visiting has some useful contacts to support your mental health during pregnancy and after having a baby https://ihv.org.uk/families/parenting-through-coronavirus-covid-19/
Check in your local area if local fitness classes have resumed or you may wish to consider online fitness workouts to keep active, postnatal Yoga or Pilates for example. There are lots of mindfulness and mediation websites and apps that might also help.
If you have questions about safer sleep contact our information line on 0808 802 6869 or email email@example.com.
We will update this page as more advice is available. Click here for more advice on safer sleep
Although there is no research evidence on COVID-19 and infants yet, we have put together some advice to try to answer some questions you may have around caring for your baby during this time.
- How do I self- isolate and keep my baby safe
- What do I do if I/my partner show signs of the virus?
- How long do I/my partner self-isolate if one or both of has symptoms or tests positive?
- Can I still breastfeed if I have coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Can I still have skin to skin contact?
- Can I still use a breast pump?
- Can I breastfeed if I have had the vaccination?
- Can I still attend antenatal/postnatal appointments?
- Should I bedshare with my baby if I am unwell?
- If my partner is unwell can we bedshare?
- What do I do if I bedshare but I have a slight temperature?
- What do I do if my baby has a temperature?
- How do I know if my baby is getting really ill, or if they are just ‘a bit’ unwell?
- I am really worried about my baby as they have scored high on baby check app but is it a risk taking them to a doctor or hospital because of COVID -19?
- I am worried about taking my baby for their routine checks and appointments because of COVID-19 should I delay or avoid going?
- Help and support whilst you are self-isolating/staying at home
Advice for if you smoke from the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group
- How does smoking during pregnancy impact my baby?
- Does smoking increase my risk from coronavirus?
- Can I get help to quit from my midwife?
- How can I keep my home smokefree?
By following our safer sleep advice, you are doing all you can to reduce the risk of SIDS. Follow the NHS guidance on self-isolation: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/when-to-self-isolate-and-what-to-do/
- Do not leave home for any reason and you must not leave home is you are self-isolating– if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask someone to deliver it to your home.
- Do not have visitors in your home – including family or friends expect for people providing essential care.
- Do any exercise at home – you can use your garden, if you have one.
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID 19) get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.
The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:
- a high temperature– this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough– this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste– this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, even if they’re mild:
- Get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible.
- Stay at home and self-isolate and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test. Check if people you live with need to self-isolate.
Get a PCR test to check if you have COVID-19 on GOV.UK https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible. This still applies even if you have received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Further information on self-isolation can be found here:
You should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or call NHS 111 if:
- You feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
- Your condition gets worse
- Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
- Contact family and friends to ask them to help with medical or shopping supplies
- You can also get help from an NHS volunteer with shopping, medical supplies or lifts to medical appointments
- Most local councils offer help for those who are unable to go out for supplies. Check the website of your local council for details or call your local councillor.
- You might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you’re not able to work
- Contact family and friends online to talk to so you don’t feel so alone.
Plan ahead: It’s a good idea to have a plan if one or more of you become infected; where will you both sleep for example? How will you manage childcare? How will you ensure you are still able to follow safer sleep advice?
Yes. There is no evidence showing that the virus can be carried in breastmilk.
If you breastfeed your baby, the following precautions are recommended by Royal College of Gynaecology:
- Wash your hands following the recommended guidelines before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
- Try to avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while breastfeeding. Have a drink of water and box of tissues within reach. Catching coughs and sneezes in tissues helps prevent the spread of infection.
- Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
- Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
Consider asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to your baby. It is essential that you closely follow sterilisation guidelines if you are feeding your baby with formula or expressed milk. You must also follow these guidelines for any soothers or teethers that you may give to your baby.
If you have any worries or concerns speak to your Midwife or Health visitor, support is available.
Yes, and the same advice should be followed as above. If you are expressing breast milk in hospital, a dedicated breast pump should be used.
If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.
UNICEF recommends that if you are too ill to breastfeed you can express milk and give it to the child via a clean cup and/or spoon – all while following the same infection prevention methods as above.
The JCVI has recommended that the vaccines can be received whilst breastfeeding. This is in line with recommendations from the USA and the World Health Organization.
For further information on breastfeeding and vaccinations see the NHS advice here:
Yes. It is recommended to continue with skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
Yes, making sure that you access antenatal and postnatal care when you are pregnant and have a new baby is really important to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby. Many appointments will now be over the phone or online such as through Skype or Zoom.
To attend any appointments in person, you must not be self-isolating because you or your partner has had contact with the COVID-19 virus, it is important that you advise your midwife of any concerns rather than miss an appointment or attend if you think you may be infected.
If you are unwell we would advise that your baby sleeps in their own separate sleep place, such as a cot or Moses basket in the same room as you. When your body is fighting an infection, you may sleep more deeply and not be as responsive as when you are well. You may also be taking medication that could make you drowsy.
Even if you are well it is important for you to know that there are some circumstances in which co-sleeping with your baby can be very dangerous:
- Either you or your partner smokes (even if you do not smoke in the bedroom)
- Either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy)
- You are extremely tired
- Your baby was born premature (37 weeks or less)
- Your baby was born at a low weight (2.5kg or 5½ lbs or less)
- Never sleep on a sofa or armchair with your baby, this can increase the risk of SIDS by 50 times
We would advise that your partner sleeps somewhere else or you put your baby in their own separate sleep space such as a cot or Moses basket. If either of you switch to the sofa to sleep, don’t be tempted to take your baby to sleep with you, sleeping on a sofa with your baby increases the risk of SIDS.
If you have a temperature we would advise you to sleep your baby in a separate sleep space. Your increased body temperature may make your baby overheat. Research shows that babies that get too hot have an increased risk of SIDS.
If your baby is unwell with a cold or fever don’t be tempted to wrap them up more than usual. Babies need fewer layers to lower their body temperature. Click here for more advice on temperature and here for more information about our Baby Check app.
Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby – either linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other health issue
This NHS link has advice on looking after a sick child https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/looking-after-sick-child/
If your baby is unwell the Baby Check app has 19 simple checks that parents can do if their baby is showing signs of illness and will give a score. If the check gives a low score but you are still worried, you should seek advice from a doctor or NHS 111.
The Baby Check app does not diagnose COVID-19
I am really worried about my baby as they have scored high on baby check app but is it a risk taking them to a doctor or hospital because of COVID -19?
If your baby is unwell it is important to seek medical attention. If you are unwell or self-isolating you need to make the health professionals aware. Call your doctor or NHS 111.
I am worried about taking my baby for their routine checks and appointments because of COVID-19 should I delay or avoid going?
We know it can be worrying to think about taking your baby to a clinic at the moment, but appointments for you and your baby are really important. See ‘Taking your baby to a clinic during the Covid crisis’ for key information and tips for you on what to expect and how to prepare for a visit.
We would advise you to keep all medical appointments, and make sure your baby receives medical attention if you have any concerns about their health. The clinic and staff are going to look different but surgeries are very quiet at the moment so it is easy to stay far apart from others. The staff will look after you and your baby as quickly as they can. Be prepared by having just one person go with your baby if you can, and write down any questions or concerns you have in advance.
Advice for if you smoke from the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group
Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy significantly increases your risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or having a premature or unwell baby. Quitting smoking is the most effective way to protect your child from the harms of tobacco smoke.
As a precautionary measure, the government has classed pregnant women as a group at risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Evidence suggests smokers who contract coronavirus are more likely to need intensive care than non-smokers. Smoking damages your lungs and weakens your immune system. This makes it more likely that you will have complications if you get sick and take longer to recover.
Yes. Your midwife should: 1. Provide you with information about the risks of smoking and benefits of quitting for you and your baby. 2. Refer you to a specialist stop smoking service. This service can provide you with support and advice via telephone/Skype/Facetime and may be able send you stop smoking medications and vouchers in the post. They should also be able to give you advice about using an e-cigarette to quit smoking.
You can use nicotine replacement products (e.g. patches or gum) or e-cigarettes to protect yourself and your family from harmful cigarette smoke. Ensure your home is a smoke-free zone and always go outside to smoke. If you are on your own, never leave your baby alone – take them outside in a pram but keep a safe distance between you.
Other useful links
- Coronavirus infection and pregnancy (rcog.org.uk)