Babies will be born. No matter the circumstances or situation, they will arrive when they are ready. And birth is a beautiful, amazing moment in time. The cry of new life is the ultimate sound of hope and joy and can bring the most unemotional person to tears—because witnessing that wrinkled-face, miracle begin their journey in this life, is beyond incredible. And the way a new parent envelopes their little one is the ultimate in a new found feeling of protection of this sweet babe.
We want to protect the vulnerable and our new little ones; it’s part of being human. We don’t have to tell you that there’s a lot of fear swarming throughout the world and our nation, it’s just the reality of an unprecedented time in our lives. There’s a lot of questions about Covid-19, and what things might look like in the near future. There are quarantines and social distancing. Schools and events are closing in different parts of the nation. It’s getting real, something almost all of us have never experienced.
One positive thing that the World Health Organization pointed out is that it’s thought the virus spreads slower than the flu. Another aspect is that the CDC states it doesn’t seem to affect children with serious symptoms. The typical experiences by children have been mild symptoms such as fever, cough, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
Even though there’s fear around us, we don’t have to panic. Instead, we can be prepared. If you’re currently pregnant, you might be concerned (which is a super valid feeling) about how to navigate the different possibilities that could surround your pregnancy and birth during a time when Covid-19 is present in our communities.
Currently, there aren’t a lot of answers from the CDC concerning pregnancy, birth or postpartum because there aren’t a lot of knowns about how the virus affects pregnancy or new babies. We do know that pregnant people are more susceptible to illness, especially respiratory illnesses.
Of the babies born to known Covid-19 infected mothers, only one has tested positive (it’s not known if the baby contracted it in the womb or during birth). The amniotic fluid and breastmilk from infected mothers has not tested positive in the cases to date. There are precautions put in place for babies born to positive Covid-19 parents, such as personal protective equipment worn by the parent or recovering separately.
The lack of information for pregnancy, postpartum and newborns leaves for a little bit of an uncharted territory, but we can still be proactive by looking at other viruses that are spread in similar ways and how they affect pregnant people and babies . And because of heightened vulnerability, there should be heightened precaution.
Here are some things we do know.
Taking precautions can limit the spread per the CDC
- Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and lather for 20 seconds, then rinse with warm water.
- Use a paper towel to turn the sink off.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands In fact, try to practice not touching your face all together, and the same goes for touching your kiddos faces.
- Avoid large groups of people, especially in indoor settings.
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- Don’t shake hands with people or hug them in greetings (so hard, but necessary).
- Avoid being near sick people (at least 6 feet away).
- Always cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching high traffic surfaces and if you do, wash your hands or use an appropriate sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol.
- Sanitize high-touch areas with an appropriate cleaner (bleach & Lysol are two).
- The CDC currently recommends healthy people wear a mask when out in public but to reserve N95 masks for healthcare workers and family members of sick individuals who are quarantining at home.
- Those who are sick should also wear a mask to help contain droplets from coughing or sneezing
Make a Plan
The CDC recommends making a plan for your household. How will your household run if there are quarantines in your area, or if your family or a member of your family needs to quarantine? This plan might include stocking up on some necessities. Not an “end of the world,” type of stocking up—but a “being prepared to stay home for a little bit,” type of stocking up.
Some Experts say you should have 2-weeks worth of items, others state 1-months worth.
Experts say the things you should stock up on are:
- Soap — washing your hands is an essential way of not spreading illness.
- Sanitizer (60-70% alcohol based).
- Cleaning products that sanitize such as bleach or Lysol.
- Food: Pick foods you’ll actually eat and that are nutrient dense. Eat through your perishable items first, then go to canned or frozen foods.
- Canned or Jarred items
- Fruits in 100% juice
- Vegetables (no added sodium)
- Frozen Items
- Bread (can be frozen and used as needed)
- Shredded cheese
- Canned or Jarred items
- Shelf Stable Items
- Freeze dried fruit/veggies
- Dried fruit
- Nuts/nut butters
- Seeds (pumpkin, hemp, sesame, sunflower, chia)
- Shelf stable milk (dairy and non-dairy)
- Herbs & Spices
- Easy to eat foods (mac & cheese, beans and rice)
- Food for Pets
- Self-Care Items
- Prescription medication
- Prenatal Vitamins and other supplements such as DHA.
- Over the counter pain reliever (appropriate for pregnancy, postpartum and children).
- Toilet Paper
- Facial Tissue
- Laundry Soap
- Antibacterial Wipes
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Nipple cream
- Ice packs
- Nursing pads
- First aid kit
- Baby Essentials
- Baby wipes
- Diapers (possibly different sizes)
- Diaper ointment
- Bulb syringe
- Any gauze or ointment if you’ve chosen circumcision for your little one.
- Formula and bottles if you are formula feeding. And we can’t emphasize enough that you shouldn’t stock up with end of the world amounts so that there is enough formula in stock for all babies that need it.
- Breast pump and milk storage bags.
Also, if they’re available to you, there are grocery delivery services you pay online and ask that they be left at your doorstep. But I wouldn’t count on this type of service for essentials.
Stay in the Know.
Be aware of your community. Are there cases in your area or are people or areas near you under quarantine? Understand what the symptoms are, and call your healthcare provider if you have a fever, cough and shortness of breath (healthcare facilities are requesting that you call if you suspect you may have Covid-19 in order to be prepared to receive you).
Also, let people know that they should keep their distance if they are not feeling well, they’ve been to an area where there is community transmission, or they’ve been in close contact with someone that has tested positive for Covid-19 or is under quarantine for the virus. Don’t feel bad about limiting yourself and your families exposure to people, it’s a good way to keep protected.
Also, if you’re able to work from home, many businesses are allowing it and some are requiring it. Ask your employer if it’s a possibility.
Contact Your Provider.
Ask your birth provider how to best keep yourself and your babe safe and find out what their plans are with Covid-19 being a new reality in some areas.
- Be in communication regarding hospital space and safety if you’re planning a hospital birth.
- Find out what your provider’s plan looks like if hospital capacity won’t support birthing, or if your hospital plans to continue to dedicate a maternity area.
- If you’re planning a Birth Center birth or home birth (which have recently increased in popularity due to some not wanting to be in a hospital during an outbreak), be in communication about how Covid-19 could affect your plans.
- Does your midwife have someone available as a backup?
- Does your doula have a backup?
- Know your rights about having your doula at your birth as hospitals change policies during this time.
- As a healthcare worker, do they plan to be tested for Covid-19 if that testing is available to them?
- What are their recommendations regarding pregnancy, postpartum and caring for a newborn during a pandemic?
We’re with you friends. Take care of one another and yourself.