July 10, 2020
Keeping Mothers and Young Children Safe From COVID-19
Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP
Moms — from the day your children are born, you do everything possible to protect them. When your children fall, you bandage their knee and tell them it will be ok. When your kids are sick, you nurse them back to health. Today, COVID-19 poses a threat to you and your young children. Following these recommendations can help pregnant women and all moms protect their families during the pandemic.
COVID-19 and Pregnancy
- Take necessary precautions. Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, making social distancing, masks and handwashing all the more important for expectant mothers when they are in public. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expectant mothers with COVID-19 have a higher chance of being hospitalized, admitted to intensive care and intubated than nonpregnant women. While the study is not conclusive due to data gaps, the findings suggest that pregnant women should be closely monitored.
- Stay up to date on vaccinations. While no approved COVID-19 vaccination exists today, it is important that parents and their babies receive all other routine vaccinations. All CDC safety guidelines should be followed while traveling to receive vaccinations.
- Do not miss health appointments. Leaving the safety of home can be very intimidating during this time, but it is crucial to keep up with regular checkups. All CDC safety guidelines should be followed during the appointment.
COVID-19 and Newborns
- Protect newborns from exposure. Newborns can contract COVID-19 and, compared with older children, may be at higher risk of severe illness. To minimize exposing newborns to COVID-19, parents should follow public health guidelines and take action if they become ill.
- Temporarily separate if a parent is sick. Though it is every parent’s nightmare, those who are confirmed to have or are suspected of having COVID-19 should temporarily separate from their newborn. Parents should take precautions to protect their newborn, such as frequently sanitizing surfaces and washing hands, wearing a face mask, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and utilizing barriers like an incubator.
- Hire a caregiver. If a parent shows symptoms of, or is diagnosed with, COVID-19, one option is to ask a caregiver who is at low risk for severe illnesses to care for the child until the parent is well.
- Talk to health care providers about breastfeeding. No link has been found between breastfeeding and spreading COVID-19. The best way for mothers to protect their newborn while breastfeeding is to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before and after, and to wear a face mask.
COVID-19 and Children
- Children’s COVID-19 symptoms are usually mild, but it’s important to talk to a health care provider if children experience symptoms. In infants, COVID-19 symptoms can resemble those of a common cold, such as a runny nose and high fever. Parents should contact their health care provider if their infant shows any symptoms.
- Children with underlying medical conditions may be at greater risk. If parents are worried about their child’s safety, they should call their health care provider for more information.
- Children over the age of 2 should wear a protective face covering outdoors. Children younger than 2 years of age should not wear a mask due to the possibility of suffocation.