New baby: what happens when you get home from hospital during the coronavirus outbreak?

Is your newborn at risk from coronavirus? Can you have visitors to see the baby? Will the midwife come to check on you? Here with all the answers is our expert family GP...

mum holding newborn baby

This is not how you thought it was going to be. We are in the middle of a global pandemic and everything’s different from how is usually is – including some of the ways midwives, health visitors, GPs and others look after you and your newborn in the weeks after your baby’s birth.

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But don’t worry: all the support that is normally offered to new mums is still there. It just looks a little different.

How do you find out what’s happening and what’s not – and what that all means for you and your newborn? Here are some answers to the big questions I know new mums and nearly-due mums-to-be are asking

Is my newborn at risk of getting coronavirus?

Newborns can get coronavirus but they don’t seem to be at higher risk than any other groups. And children of all ages seem to do better with COVID-19 than other age groups. However, if your baby becomes unwell, then please seek medical advice.

Any baby who has a temperature (over 37.5°) in the 1st month of life should see a doctor. This doesn’t mean that they have coronavirus but they do need to be checked over.

Will I still have support after taking my baby home from hospital?

Yes you will, although the support may look a little bit different to what it was previously – there may be more phone contact, rather than face-to-face contact, for example. Arrangements are changing all the time right now.

You will still have support from a midwife, generally for the first 2 weeks after the birth, and this should include weighing your baby, supporting you with breastfeeding and giving your baby the heel-prick Guthrie tests which check for certain diseases
Dr Philippa Kaye, expert family GP

After those 1st 2 weeks, your baby’s care is handed over to a health visitor. Again, it may be that the initial contact with your health visitor is made by phone instead of face to face.

Your GP will still be offering a 6-week check for you and a 6 to 8-week check for your baby, as well as the routine baby immunisations.  You may find these the check and your baby’s 1st jabs are all rolled up into 1 appointment, so you only have to visit the GP surgery once.

Otherwise, your GP is still there to provide support as we always do – perhaps on the phone, initially – and other support services are available. We are still here to help!

Can I have visitors to our house to see the baby?

It’s currently still not advised to have anyone from outside your household to visit you in your home (or for you to go to their home). The guidance has recently changed to allow up to 6 people from different households to meet outside – but still following social distancing guidelines and keeping 2m apart.

With a newborn, you’ll need to feel ready to bring your baby outside. And family and friends will still not be able to get within 2m of your baby or you – so no hugs or picking up, but social distanced coos will be OK.

I know this is hard. I know we all rely on support and help from friends and family and not being able to have them with you is difficult. I know this affects us all. But perhaps your friends and family can help you in other ways – by, say, dropping a nice home-cooked meal round to your doorstep, doing your shopping for you or simply being there at the end of a video call when you need them.

What do I do if I’m worried about my C-section wound or my stitches?

Seek medical advice! Either from your midwife or your GP. We are still here, the NHS is still open: if you have concerns, get them checked out!

How will I know my baby’s putting on weight properly?

Your baby will be weighed generally at day 5 when the Guthrie test is carried out. We expect babies to lose a bit of weight at first and then regain it as your milk ‘comes in’, so your baby will be weighed again a few days after that.

Once the midwife is satisfied your baby is gaining weight satisfactorily and you have been discharged to the health visitor, your baby will then be weighed again at the 6 to 8-week-check.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, there were regular weighing clinics you could pop along to once a week after that but these are not always on at the moment. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight, then please discuss it with your GP.

Can I take my baby for a walk?

As long as you have not be advised to ‘shield’ at home because you fall into a high-risk category, then yes, please do go for a walk.

What do I do if I feel I’m not coping?

Ask for help, please – be it from your midwife, your health visitor or your GP, as well as family and friends.

I know this is hard. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. Add to this a new baby, changing hormone levels, different birth experiences than we had planned, different support, worries about health, money and more – and it's no wonder that we can feel overwhelmed
Dr Philippa Kaye, expert family GP

If you are concerned about your mental health, please speak to your GP. We are here, we can help, we have psychological support available online and on the phone. We can see you, we can give medication, we can help: please, please ask for it.

What do I do if I’m having trouble breastfeeding?

Lots of breastfeedings support groups are running online and there is lots of online support here on MadeForMums and also at La Leche League. You can also discuss things with your midwife or health visitor: it’s part of their job to help you with breastfeeding.

Will it affect my baby developmentally that we can’t physically interact with other people?

You and your baby have each other, and possibly other family members in your household, too.  This provides plenty of interaction for your baby and their development. Keep talking to your baby, singing, moving and playing – these all help with development.

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