Bringing home a newborn is quite a challenge for every parent, but doing so during uncertain times like a pandemic caused by COVID-19 brings it to the next level. In addition to the usual stress surrounding the care of a new life, we have constant news about rising cases and hospitalizations and the lack of protection for kids younger than five years.
On the bright side, vaccination and treatments are now available for adults, and we know a bit more about COVID-19, which helps us prevent risky situations. We have useful information for you and your family if you are currently expecting a child or during the fists months of caring for your child.
How to protect your newborn.
As we have learned, physical distance, the constant wash of hands, and well-ventilated environments are our allies in avoiding getting sick. So, it would help if you practiced all of them while caring for your newborn.
We understand how important it is for families to meet the new baby, but if possible, try to introduce your child via digital platforms to the rest of the family or organize an outdoor gathering with your closest family, keeping the physical distance at all times and wearing masks to be extra cautious.
You should maintain constant hand hygiene at home and open windows for five to ten minutes each couple of hours to keep the area ventilated. And if you or anyone at home feels unwell, you should isolate and avoid close contact until they feel better, and symptoms disappear.
If the mother decides to breastfeed and feels unwell or is in close contact with someone sick, she should always wear a facemask while caring for the newborn. She can continue breastfeeding the newborn since COVID-19 is transmitted via respiratory droplets, and there is no evidence of transmission via breastmilk. If the mother feels unwell and wants to continue breastfeeding, she can use a breast pump, and the caregivers can help feed the baby.
We now know it is safe for pregnant women to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and for children who are five and older, which helps prevent hospitalization but not getting sick. And this is important to note because a newborn hasn't developed a strong enough immune system to fight viruses, making it vulnerable and prone to become seriously ill.
Keeping yourself healthy is the best way to protect your newborn. In addition to vaccination, when available, you should continue to practice constant hand washing, physical distance, and proper ventilation. Remember to wear a mask when you attend doctors' appointments and in closed environments or when physical distance is impossible.
Maintain your well-baby appointments and vaccines on time.
Stepping out to see the pediatrician might not seem important to do while COVID-19 cases are rising, but it is important to do so. Preventive medicine is one of the most important areas of health care, and keeping your child's well-baby appointments on time is a major part.
The specialist will let you know if your newborn is developing and growing as expected and will solve any questions. Keeping all vaccines on time is crucial; since many parents opted to skip those appointments during the past two years, some diseases that were thought to be left behind are rising in cases again.
Although these recommendations have been around for longer than COVID-19, we need to keep them fresh and put them into practice effectively to keep the whole family protected. Starting with keeping a well-ventilated environment around the newborn, you can also buy an air filter with HEPA filters if the air quality where you live is not optimal.
Limit visits from people who might be at risk, those who keep in contact with your newborn should always use a facemask and practice constant handwashing. Warn your loved ones to avoid visiting if they feel unwell or have been in close contact with someone who has over the past week.
A healthy diet will be key to maintaining your immune system at optimal conditions because you need to be healthy as a parent or caregiver to provide care to the child. If your newborn has siblings limit the contact without a facemask, especially in the first weeks of life, and if your older kids attend risky environments such as a school where they come in close contact with others without masks.
Technology has helped us keep in touch with our loved ones while apart, and it is also crucial for many to continue working from home. But you can also make the most out of technology to avoid stepping out for supplies and food. Many stores now have apps and websites where you can buy all you need and receive it at home or park in their designated parking spaces and have someone from the store load all your purchases.
This might seem a bit unnecessary, but trust us, leaving the house with a newborn is no easy task, and during a pandemic, you might avoid those risks. You can also use technology to keep in touch with friends and family so they can be part of your journey without taking chances of getting COVID-19.
Mental health importance.
A key part of newborn care involves mental health care for the parents and those who surround the family. The changes of giving birth during a pandemic can highly impact your mental health since you are not in control of many important. Not having your partner by your side with each appointment and during labor can hit hard, and not having a support system once you arrive home due to physical distance it can also make those moments hard.
It is important to take time as a couple to check on each other, and if you or your partner are feeling unwell, depressed, or anxious, it is a good time to seek help. You can schedule an online appointment with a therapist to continue caring for your newborn while taking care of yourself. Asking for help is important in moments like the first weeks of life as a new parent. The everyday routine can be overwhelming, and if you add the pressure and uncertainty of watching the news and hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is understandable you might worry.
Finally, we advise you to keep your hopes high, your newborn will soon grow, and you will be able to look back and know you did an amazing job. Caring for a newborn is a task no parent feels ready for. Still, if you follow the general guidelines of health professionals and follow your instinct, you will soon find out it was easier than you imagined.