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COVID-19

For Parents and Parents-to-be During COVID-19

Raising children can be challenging under normal circumstances. We understand that you may have more questions and worries about COVID-19 related to your family, your children of any age, or if you’re expecting a new baby. Although much is still unknown about COVID-19 we do know that parents are doing the best they can and we are here to support you. Please see our Support For You section for a full list of mental health supports for adults and youth, as well as financial and economic supports.

COVID-19 is a new disease and much is still unknown about its effects on pregnant women and babies. During pregnancy your immune system changes and you may be more likely to get infections in general. At this time, there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19.

If you are pregnant, we recommend that you follow the same precautions as the general public to protect yourself. Because every pregnancy is different, we also recommend that you consult your health care provider for advice as needed. If you do develop symptoms of COVID-19, seek further assessment and testing.

Currently, there are have been no reported cases where the COVID-19 virus has been passed to a baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Whether you plan to deliver in the hospital or at home, we recommend that you speak with your health care provider about your birth plan. This is especially important if you develop symptoms or test positive for the virus. It is possible that you will need to adjust parts of your birthplan, due to the measures put in place to address COVID-19.

For more Information:

• Pregnancy, Childbirth and Breastfeeding - Public Health Agency of Canada

• Pregnancy and Breastfeeding - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

• COVID-19 Fact Sheet - Mother to Baby

Pregnancy and Before

There is very little information at this time about how COVID-19 affects babies.

It is important to take precautions to protect yourself and your baby:

  • Stay home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary visitors. 
  • Only go out for essential reasons (such as medical appointments or groceries).
  • Practice physical distancing by keeping at least two meters away from others.

Breastfeeding provides many benefits. Breastmilk can help protect your baby from illness and infection. It also provides a safe and reliable food source during emergencies. The virus causing COVID-19 has not been found in breastmilk. The Canadian Pediatric Society, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and World Health Organization (WHO) all recommend that mothers with suspected or proven COVID-19 continue to breastfeed.

Practice the following actions when feeding your baby:

  • Always wash your hands before touching your baby, especially when feeding.
  • If expressing breastmilk, wash your hands before touching pump or bottle parts and clean all parts after each use.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the environment can also help to reduce the spread of illness.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, take these precautions while feeding your infant: wear a face mask, consider covering your baby with a blanket, and wash your chest prior to feeding at the breast if you have sneezed or coughed without a mask. You may also ask someone else to feed your expressed breastmilk to your baby.

All babies benefit from being held skin-to-skin regardless of how they are fed. Babies can continue to be held skin to skin even during these times During the time period that a parent has symptoms of Covid-19 they should wash their hands and chest with soap and water and wear a face mask, when holding their baby skin-to-skin or feeding.

Learning and responding to your baby’s cues helps to build a secure attachment. Making eye contact with your baby and using your voice to respond to their cues is important, especially if you are ill and wearing a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Physically distancing yourself from your baby is not recommended, unless you are too ill to breastfeed or provide care.

For families who are currently using formula:

  • Follow guidelines for safe preparation. Wash your hands before you prepare formula and before offering it to your baby. 
  • If your baby’s usual brand is not available in the grocery store, purchase another brand that is similar to the formula your infant currently drinks e.g. a cow milk based formula. Most babies will adjust to a different formula quickly. 
  • Homemade infant formulas are not recommended for use.

For more information:

 

Current evidence suggests that children do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. TheCaring for Kids website offers information for parents from Canada’s pediatricians. We recommend you visit this website for credible information about how to protect your child and what to do if you think your child is sick.

The closure of workplaces, schools, child care centres and parks is stressful for many children and parents. While physical distancing is important for protecting our physical health, staying connected with others (such as by phone or video chat) can help protect our mental well-being. Caring for ourselves also helps us to provide care and support for our children.

For more information:

Parents and caregivers have an important role in helping their children make sense of what they see and hear around them and how they are feeling. A calm, informed and loving parent provides the best support for a child. The following are resources to support your parenting during this uncertain time:

Sometimes it can be helpful for children to have other trusted adults to talk to. Please see our Support For You section for a full list of mental health supports for children and youth.

How you shop for and prepare food, and what and where you eat has likely changed. In a time of self-isolation and physical distancing here are some tips to help you feed your family,

Grocery shopping: 

  • Buy enough food and household supplies for your family. 
  • When you need to go to stores, go during off hours when they might be less crowded. Leave your kids at home if possible. Wash your hands before and after going out. 
  • If you are in self-isolation, ask a friend or family member to drop off supplies. Try online grocery ordering and delivery. 
  • Consider helping someone in your community or making a monetary donation to your local food bank if you are able.
  • If you (or someone you know) need help accessing groceries or pharmacy, contact 211 or visit www.211ontario.ca.

 

Preparing food: 

 

Meal and snack times: 

  • Create a routine. Many children are used to following a routine at child care or school, so having one at home may help them adjust. 
  • Offer regular meals and snacks. Do the best with what you have available to you. 
  • Eat meals together when you can. Remove toys, electronic devices and turn off TVs. 
  • Find out more about feeding your growing child.
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