8. Once I have given birth, what can I do to protect my newborn from the COVID-19 virus?
The best thing you can do is to keep it simple: stick to just your family and don’t ask for visitors right now. “Get your family to wash their hands and take good care of themselves,” says Cadée.
Although it’s a difficult time, Cadée recommends trying to see the positive side of having this time to bond as a family. “Sometimes it can be very busy for young mothers and fathers to have so many visitors. Enjoy the quietness of your [immediate] family together for this time. It’s quite special to be able to bond with your baby alone, discover that new human being and enjoy that.”
9. I am an expecting mother. What should I be doing to keep myself safe during the COVID-19 virus outbreak?
As far as the research shows, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus than any other group of people. That being said, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women in the last months of pregnancy can by badly affected by some respiratory infections, and so it’s important to take precautions.
“I know that for pregnant women it can be really hard – of course they’re caring for themselves and for their baby and sometimes have other children as well – but as far as we know, pregnant women are not at more risk than other people are, and for that reason they need to do the same things as everyone else,” explains Cadée. She advises practicing the following physical distancing measures:
- Avoid contact with anyone displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Avoid public transport when possible.
- Work from home, where possible.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, particularly in closed or confined spaces.
- Use telephone, texting or online services to contact your midwife, obstetrician and other essential services.
Additional protective measures include frequent hand washing with soap and water, regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces at home, self-monitoring of any signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and seeking early care from a health care provider.
10. Can I safely breastfeed my baby?
“As far as we know, it is perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding. It's the best thing a mother can do for her baby," says Cadée. Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date.
If you suspect you may have the COVID-19 virus, it is important to seek medical care early and follow instructions from your health care provider. Mothers well enough to breastfeed should take precautions, including wearing a mask if available, washing hands before and after contact, and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces. If you are too ill to breastfeed, express milk and give it to your child via a clean cup and/or spoon – all while following the same precautions.
11. What should I do if I live in a crowded space?
Many women around the world live in close proximity to lots of other people, making physical distancing much more challenging. In such places, “I would really ask the whole community to take care of their pregnant women,” urges Cadée. She recommends that people keep their distance from pregnant women as much as possible and that certain toilets be designated for them.
And don’t forget the importance of handwashing in the community. “Handwashing is not said for nothing. COVID-19 and soap don’t like each other. It’s a simple measure that can do a lot of good,” she says. “I really hope that whatever situation people face, that the community and the healthcare professionals think of a system whereby it is as safe and secure for pregnant women, who after all are giving birth to our future. That needs to be treasured!”