Bringing your baby home during the pandemic

Coming home from the hospital after having a baby can feel overwhelming, especially during these extraordinary times. Feeling anxious about this is completely understandable and a natural reaction to what is happening in the world. But there are things you can do to make sure that you and your baby enjoy this time together as best you can.

Updated 16/07/2020

How many postnatal appointments will I have?

This will depend on your needs and those of your baby. You should have at least 3 postnatal appointments with your local continuity team or community midwife. These will take place once you have been discharged from hospital: on your first full day at home, then on day 5 and day 10. These appointments may be a mixture of face-to-face care at home or in a clinic, and telephone consultations, where this is appropriate. After your postnatal appointment on day 10, your care will be transferred to your local health visiting team. 

In early June, the NHS provided guidance to all maternity teams that your first post-natal appointment should be a face-to-face visit at home following birth. This will be day 1 if you gave birth to your baby at home or the first day following discharge from the maternity unit if you gave birth to your baby away from home in hospital or a midwifery led unit. This is an important visit to check that you and your baby are well, and support you in these first few days. The RCM have produced a useful infographic on preparing for a home visit from your midwife.

After the birth, is there any increased risk of getting coronavirus for me or my baby?

There is no evidence that women who have recently had a baby and are otherwise well are at increased risk of contracting coronavirus or of becoming seriously unwell. A recently pregnant woman’s immune system is regarded as normal unless she has other forms of infection or underlying illness.

It will help to eat a healthy, balanced diet, do some mild exercise and follow the current government guidelines. Children, including newborns, do not appear to be at high risk of becoming seriously unwell with the virus. But hygiene is, as always, important for anyone who lives in your home. Anyone who enters the home should washing their hands thoroughly.

Do not put off seeking medical advice if you have concerns about your baby’s health during the pandemic. Seek medical advice if your baby has any symptoms you may have concerns about. The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health (RCPCH)  and Healthier Together have produced a guide with advice for parents during coronavirus, which shows symptoms to look out for and who to contact. 

Will I still have support after I give birth?

Most women are discharged from their midwife’s care 10-14 days after birth. But if you are having difficulties breastfeeding, you may be seen for up to 6 weeks after giving birth. Your midwife may also be able to organise a virtual call with a breastfeeding advisor. You may also be able to see someone in person as some of these services are offering this if everyone in the household does not have coronavirus symptoms. Many hospitals will give you information about how to get help feeding your baby if needed, as these services are likely to have had significant changes due to the pandemic. But try to remember that help is still available if you need it.

Will I still have access to a health visitor?

Yes. Under normal circumstances, you’d start seeing your health visitor around 10 days after your baby is born. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who is there to help you, your family and your new baby stay healthy.

The Institute of Health Visiting says that health visitors are still working but are likely to be offering a 9 to 5 telephone advice service instead of face-to-face visits.

You should be asked about your and your baby’s health at every postnatal check. Your health visitor will chat to you about:

You should also be given details about local information and support networks, such as local child health clinics, parent and baby groups, and local family information services that may be operating telephone or online services. 

Should I still contact the health visitor if I have any concerns?

Yes. There may also be a slight delay in responding to any questions you have during this time because of the pandemic and services are stretched. But if you need any support, for example, if you are having problems breastfeeding, call your health visitor.

You’ll be given their contact details so you can contact them with any questions outside of arranged appointments.

Can my baby still get their vaccinations? 

Yes. It’s very important that your baby has their vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. Call your GP surgery for more information. Call the surgery if you have a new continuous cough and/or high temperature (37.8 degrees or above) before the appointment. Your appointment may be delayed until after you have self-isolated for 14 days.

Managing the ‘baby blues’

Like many people now, you may have heightened feelings of anxiety. These can take often take hold when you can’t make sense of how you’re feeling.

One way to manage your anxiety is to remember that your body is currently going through sudden and hormonal chemical changes after giving birth. Your body has just gone through an extraordinary experience and it’ll take time for everything to go back to normal. Find out more about your body after the birth.

These changes are likely to affect how you feel emotionally. Sometimes, and seemingly out of nowhere, all you want to do is cry. This can be due to a very common condition called the 'baby blues'. This usually starts in the week after birth and stops by the time your baby is around 10 days old.

Symptoms can include:

  • feeling emotional and irrational
  • bursting into tears for no apparent reason
  • feeling irritable or touchy
  • feeling depressed or anxious.

The ‘baby blues' is not the same as postnatal depression. If your symptoms aren’t improving after a couple of weeks, talk to your health visitor or GP. You may need more support.

Can I have visitors?

The rules about meeting people outside of your household are changing all the time. As of 4 July, you can meet people outside of your household. But you should only meet people you do not live with in 3 types of groups:

  • you can continue to meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households
  • single adult households – in other words adults who live alone or with dependent children only – can continue to form an exclusive ‘support bubble’ with one other household
  • you can also meet in a group of 2 households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household), in any location ‒ public or private, indoors or outdoors. This does not need to be the same household each time.

Here's the latest guidance about on meeting people outside of your household in detail. If anyone does visit, make sure they pay strict attention to hygiene precautions and follow social distancing guidance.

It can be lovely to have visitors, but remember it can be tiring too. You'll be recovering from the birth, perhaps trying to establish breastfeeding, and getting little sleep. Also, this has been a very anxious time for everyone and many people still feel uncomfortable going out or having anyone in their home who doesn't live there.

These are all valid reasons to feel vulnerable, so don't feel you have to agree to anything you don't want to do. You don’t need to have everyone visit at once, so don't be afraid to tell people you're not ready yet. Many people will be happy to wait a few weeks until you’ve settled as a family.

You can also let people know if you only want them to stay for a short time or to leave early if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. If asking visitors to wear a mask, even if you're meeting outside, makes you feel more comfortable, then do so. You've been through a lot so it's important that you feel safe and comfortable.

“Taking Araliya home was lovely, but it is such a strange time. Normally you'd get ready for people coming to visit but that isn't the case. On the plus side, you get to enjoy your baby without interruption and you don't have to make sure your house is tidy every day! Having a newborn is a bit like self-isolation anyway. Even though you can go out I've chosen to keep the baby at home as I had symptoms of coronavirus. I'll go out for walks every day to ensure she gets fresh air and ensure a sense of normality. It’s so important for your mental health. We've used Zoom to introduce her to family and I'm so grateful we live in an age where we have this available. I'm speaking to everyone a lot more than I would normally, which is fab. Staying in touch is the best thing family and friends can do at this time. Our brother in law also dropped off groceries when we were self-isolating, which was amazing and a big help. The midwife visited us on day 5 rather than day 2 as they're reducing their visits. This is understandable, but you can call them any time for advice. The health visitor called us and will follow up with another call in a couple of week's time. Everyone has been super supportive, positive and understanding. We're all in this together and there's something comforting in that.”

Joanne

How do I cope emotionally with a new baby during a pandemic?

You’ll have many happy moments with your baby. But life with even the easiest of babies can be exhausting and messy. Many mums may happily tell you that after having their baby they didn’t leave the house for months. Even having a shower can sometimes feel like a victory.

Some mums enjoy spending most of this time at home, but for others this may be more difficult. Feeling like you can’t leave the house can make you feel trapped – something that many people are feeling right now.

Try not to think about what you can do, rather than what you can’t (or don't feel comfortable doing). For example, although you can’t visit large groups of friends or don't want to go and sit in a coffee shop, you do have a lot of precious time to bond with your baby.

It’s also important to take time for yourself. Try to:

  • eat well
  • rest as much as you can
  • read our tips on how to cope with sleepless nights 
  • try to spend a half hour a day doing something for yourself - have a bath, read a magazine or just put your feet up
  • call or FaceTime a friend.

We're here to support you

Although we've had to temporarily close our support line as our midwives have moved to homeworking, our Tommy's midwives are still here to support you.

We are working hard to provide the best support and information we can during a time of extra anxiety and worry for pregnant women and their families.

Watch out for updates and contact us on the following platforms:

If you have non-urgent questions, we have developed Tommy's Midwife, a skill for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa that answers many pregnancy queries, including some about COVID-19.

Read more about the Tommy's Midwife Alexa skill here.

Further information

This information is based on the official RCOG guidelines, UK government guidelinesThe Institute of Health Visiting guidelines and NHS guidance

 

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