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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 children, youth and adults, as well as financial and economic supports.

COVID-19 is a newer 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. Pregnant individuals who have COVID-19 are more likely to get sick, be admitted to hospital and need treatment in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) than women and individuals who aren't pregnant. Pregnant individuals with COVID-19 are more likely to have a premature birth and caesarean delivery, and their babies are more likely to be admitted to hospital.

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.

Most babies born to women with COVID-19 around the time of delivery have not had evidence of infection. More information is needed to better understand the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy.

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 birth plan, due to the measures put in place to address COVID-19.

Immunization: All pregnant individuals in Ontario are now eligible to get vaccinated for COVID-19 given they are now included in the highest risk health condition category. Consider getting immunized to prevent serious illness and to protect your baby.

Deciding about a COVID-19 vaccination while you are pregnant can be challenging. Talk with your health care provider about the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine and the potential risks of a COVID-19 infection during your pregnancy.

Review the information below to help you make a decision.

  • Review: “I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Should I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?” (available in French and English)
  • Download: the OMama App or visit the OMama website to access up to date, trusted, evidence-informed information for pregnant Ontarians and their families, including information about COVID-19 and pregnancy. 
  • Visit: PregnancyInfo.ca – Includes facts on pregnancy and childbirth from Canada’s experts including information about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.
  • Watch a short video: Ontario Health Care Providers sharing updated messages about the vaccine

For more Information and to book your vaccine at a clinic click here.

Additional resources 

  • Pregnancy, Childbirth and Caring for Newborns English/Francais - Public Health Agency of Canada

 

There is very little information at this time about how COVID-19 affects babies. We recommend that all new parents take precautions to reduce the risk of infection to themselves and their newborn:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often or use alcohol based hand sanitizer to clean away germs. 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the environment can also help to reduce the spread of illness.
  • Stay home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary visitors (such as those outside of your social circle).
  • Limit how often you go out in public (only for essential reasons, such as medical appointments or groceries). If you are going out in public or visiting with people who are not in your social circle, stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart and wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Masks are not recommended for babies and young children.

Breastfeeding:

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.
  • If using a breastfeeding pillow, put a clean towel on the pillow each time you are feeding baby.

Immunization for breastfeeding families:
The COVID-19 vaccines currently offered in Canada are not live vaccines. These vaccines are not believed to be a risk to babies who are breastfeeding. Speak to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of the vaccine and the potential risks of a COVID infection for your families.

Review: “I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Should I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?” (available in French and English)

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. 

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, seek assessment and testing. During the time period that a parent has symptoms or has tested positive, they should:

  • Wash their hands 
  • Wear a face mask 
  • If you have coughed or sneezed without a mask, wash your chest with soap and water before each breastfeeding.
  • If you are not feeling well, ask someone else to feed your expressed breastmilk or formula to your baby.
  • Consider loosely covering your baby with a blanket 
  • Continue to hold your baby skin-to-skin at any time throughout the day.

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 more information:

  • Pregnancy, Childbirth and Caring for Newborns English/Francais - Public Health Agency of Canada

 

 

 

 

Current evidence suggests that children do not appear to be at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. The Caring for Kids: COVID-19 and Your Child page offers regularly updated information for parents from Canada’s pediatricians.

The reopening of workplaces, schools, child care centres and parks is stressful for many children and parents. Balancing protecting our physical health and our mental well-being is important. 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.

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.

For more information:

 

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 to limit outings. 
  • 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 or use an alcohol-based hand rub 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: 

Page last updated: June 17, 2021

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