We know this is 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 advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby that is currently available and will keep updating this as we know more.

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 that is 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.
  • We do not recommend that babies or young children wear masks, whether they are infected or not. There is a potential risk of suffocation and other hazards with doing this. The latest Government guidance says that Children under the age of 11 do not have to wear them and Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons.
  • Always seek medical advice if you are worried about your baby – either linked to coronavirus (COVID-19) or any other health issue
  • If you have questions about safer sleep contact our information line on 0808 802 6869 or email info@lullabytrust.org.uk.

See below for FAQs on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby

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 will only be a few 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
  • 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
  • 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

If you are pregnant, make sure you are aware of the advice, which is changing continually:

  • Pregnant women should follow government advice about social distancing, stay away from public places and avoid anyone who has any symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Pregnant women can still go out when necessary, such as to shop for food, exercise and to attend antenatal appointments.
  • If you are in your third trimester (more than 28 weeks pregnant) you should be careful to keep to social distancing and avoid contact with others as much as possible.

See below for FAQs on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby

Advice from the NHS on coronavirus in pregnancy

There’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus.

But pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution.

This is because pregnant women can sometimes be more at risk from viruses like flu.

It’s not clear if this happens with coronavirus. But because it’s a new virus, it’s safer to include pregnant women in the moderate-risk group.

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’s no evidence coronavirus causes miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy.

It’s important to tell your midwife or maternity team if you have symptoms of coronavirus. You should also ask them for help with any other concerns as you usually would.

More information can be found on the NHS website

Appointments and scans- Advice from the NHS

You’ll still have regular appointments and scans while you’re pregnant. But there may be some changes.

You may find that:

  • Midwife appointments are now online, by phone or by video call
  • If you need to have a scan you may have to go on your own
  • You may be asked to wear a mask or gown when you’re in a hospital or clinic
  • Some appointments may be cancelled or rescheduled. If an appointment is cancelled, it will be rescheduled, or you’ll be able to rebook it

This is to help keep everyone safe and stop the spread of coronavirus.

Speak to your midwife or maternity team for more information.

Other things to consider

This will be a very difficult time for you as a new family as you may want to share and show your baby off to family members who do not live with you. However, it is very important that you continue to follow the government guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus

Look into other methods of staying in touch with family; sending pictures and keeping in touch online (FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype). Take lots of pictures & videos to share with family/friends.

If things are feeling overwhelming and you are increasingly anxious it is important to talk about this with your Health Visitor.

It is important to try to look after your mental health as well as your physical health – this website has some useful tips. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/ Also, 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/

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 info@lullabytrust.org.uk.

We will update this page as more advice is available. Click here for more advice on safer sleep

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and caring for your baby FAQs

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.

Advice for if you smoke from the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group

How do I self- isolate and keep my baby safe?

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 :

  • Do not leave your home for any reason – 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 friends and family
  • Do any exercise at home – you can use your garden, if you have one

What do I do if I/my partner show signs of the virus?

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.

For information on booking a test, visit the government website.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. For more information, visit the NHS website.

What are support and childcare bubbles?

Support bubble

A support bubble is a support network which links 2 households. You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a support bubble.

Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in one ‘household’. It means you can have close contact with the other household in your bubble as if they were members of your own household. This means you do not need to maintain social distance with people in your support bubble.

Childcare bubble

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a ‘childcare bubble’. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.

Further information on support and childcare bubbles can be found here.

How long do I/my partner self-isolate if one or both of has symptoms or tests positive?

How long you need to self-isolate depends if you’ve tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have been in close contact with someone who has.

Information: If you have symptoms and have not had a test, stay at home and get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK.

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

Help and support whilst you are self-isolating/staying at home

  • 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?

Can I still breastfeed if I have coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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.

Can I still use a breast pump?

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.

Can I breastfeed if I have had the vaccination?

There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding or on the breastfed infant. Despite this, COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant, and the benefits of breast-feeding are well known. Because of this, the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations) has recommended that the vaccine can be received whilst breastfeeding. This is in line with recommendations in the USA and from the World Health Organisation. Read more information here.

Can I still have skin to skin contact?

Yes. It is recommended to continue with skin-to-skin contact with your baby.

Can I still attend antenatal/postnatal appointments?

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

Should I bedshare with my baby if I am unwell?

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.

Although there is currently no evidence the COVID -19 virus is spread by airborne droplets, there might be a higher risk of passing it onto your baby if you have the virus. If you are not feeling well it is always safer for your baby to be in a separate sleep place in the same room as you.

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

If my partner is unwell can we bedshare?

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.

What do I do if I bedshare but I have a slight temperature?

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.

What do I do if my baby has a temperature?

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/

How do I know if my baby is getting really ill, or if they are just ‘a bit’ unwell?

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

How does smoking during pregnancy impact my baby?

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.

Does smoking increase my risk from coronavirus?

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.

Can I get help to quit from my midwife?

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.

How can I keep my home smokefree?

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.