Bringing your baby home during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Heading home from hospital after having a baby, although an exhilarating and joyous occasion for most, can also be a strange and daunting time for many new parents. During these uncertain and unprecedented times of social distancing and self-isolation, it is understandable that many new parents can feel more alone than ever. We have written this blog to help prepare new parents bringing their newborns home, in hope that it will provide them with some information to alleviate some anxiety.
Hospital visiting hours have been universally affected, at home visitors are being dissuaded and newly discharged families are being encouraged to stay at home and self-isolate. These decisions are not made lightly. They are put in place to ensure safety of yourself, your partner, your newborn(s), and your healthcare providers. It is important to know that once you leave hospital and the 24-hour support and guidance of your maternity hospital, you are NOT on your own. Support is still available, just not in a way that you knew it to be. Just like when you bring a newborn home, life changes.
Birth continues but right now the experience is a little different. Hospital visiting hours have been shortened to minimise traffic into the hospital. (Please check with the respective hospitals you’re booked in to confirm the visiting hours). The Victorian Government has made an announcement that no other visitors are allowed throughout the duration of labour and stay (except for 1 support person). Whilst this may not be what you had imagined, do consider that these difficult decisions are made to minimise exposure to everyone – especially vulnerable groups like yourself, and your newborn.
If you do not have any acute issues, an early discharge may be offered to you and your family to facilitate self-isolation. It is entirely your choice to accept this offer, should you feel like you’re safe at home. I stress again, it is important to realise that once you leave the maternity ward, that you are not entirely alone.
Many new parents have recently been reporting that the chance to enjoy this special, sacred time at home has actually been a positive experience. With no interruptions or interfering from well-meaning visitors, the chance to bunker down and concentrate on all that is precious, and prioritising rest and recovery is a helpful focus. But it is important to know what resources are around for those inevitable times when you need to reach out.
In many cultures, this extended stay at home period has an official term! Traditionally, the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Latin American cultures call this the “post partum confinement period”. This traditional practice typically begins immediately post partum, and has a variable timeframe, ranging from 30-40 days. This period allows mothers to rest and be somewhat disconnected with the outside world.
It allows you to learn the skills of breastfeeding and getting to know your newborn’s habits. Please be rest assured that breastfeeding is still safe during this COVID19 pandemic, and highly encouraged during this period as advised by the World Health Organisation and other breastfeeding authorities.
Use this time positively to bond with your baby. Enjoy the serenity of just your nuclear family. Allow your other children to adjust to the newborn. Worry not about keeping your house spotless for the countless visitors. Worry not about making cups of teas for them or having to make small talks. Worry not about being judged by others on your newly acquired parenting skills.
When home with your newborn during this COVID-19 time, do not be afraid to be close to your baby, but take extra precautions to keep yourself and everyone else safe.
- Practice distancing between yourself and others, especially if you’re home with other vulnerable groups.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid close contacts with other people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, face, nose and mouth if you have touched other surfaces.
At Create Health, many of our new families have a follow up appointment with our midwife 3 weeks after the birth, and families are reviewed by their obstetricians at 6 weeks. Most parents are offered a 6 to 8 weeks review with their paediatrician, and all mothers and babies are referred to their local Maternal and Child Health Nurse to continue their care as well, starting with their initial review within the first week at home. Whilst some of these routine reviews may need to be carried out in a flexible format or via telehealth, it is important to have these follow-ups to ensure that your recovery is progressing well and that you are receiving the right supports that you need.
Create Health recognises that this may be a maze that is difficult to navigate. We want to make this process as seamless as possible, and are able to offer additional bespoke antenatal and postnatal appointments. Again, this can be in the form of face-to-face appointments, or via Telehealth. Information, education and support is critical for new parents, so if you need further appointments, especially once you are at home with your newborn, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our large consulting rooms have been reorganised to facilitate physical distancing should you feel more comfortable with a face-to-face appointment and examination.
Physical distancing does not mean emotional and social distancing. It is also important to stay connected with family and friends using technology where you can. Be it such service as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or just phone calls, it is still important to reach out and maintain contact and support from those whom know you best.
Should you feel overwhelmed at any point, our Create Health clinicians are also able to put you in touch with our in-house Perinatal Mental Health team – Dr Adaobi Udechuku (perinatal psychiatrist) and Sofia Galgut (psychologist) to optimise your mental health to prepare you on your parenthood journey.
There are also many other telephone and web based resources available for new parents. A number of which are highlighted in your Maternal and Child Health Record folder which is issues to all families in Victoria. Organisations such as the following (but not limited to) provide excellent resources for new parents.
Last but not least, know that we are always here for you. We endeavour to provide you with the latest developments and most current information, so do follow our social media for regular updates.