COVID-19 – What You Need To Know For Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting

By Robin Forslund

March 21, 2020

You can’t look anywhere without reading about Coronavirus or COVID-19. It can be hard to filter through the information that you are being bombarded with so here at The Mama Coach we wanted to provide you with the most accurate information at this time. Because Coronavirus is a new disease the information is constantly evolving as we learn more about the virus.

What Is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a novel Coronavirus. There are several coronaviruses that are responsible for the common cold and other respiratory infections. Some coronaviruses you may be familiar with are SARS and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The term novel indicates that this is a new disease that we have not previously seen. “CO” stands for corona, “VI” is for virus and “D” is for disease and “19” is for 2019.

How Does It Spread?

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through droplet transmission. When we talk, cough, or sneeze we produce respiratory droplets. These can spread within a 6-foot radius to other people. These droplets can also land on surfaces where if we touch them and then touch our faces (eyes, nose, mouth) we can introduce the virus to our own system. Infected people can spread the virus from their first cough or sneeze, even if they do not appear unwell or have a fever yet.

What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19

The symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild illness to severe illness resulting in death. The main symptoms noted are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you think you may have contracted COVID-19 the CDC in the US has a symptom checker, here. In Alberta, the self-assessment tool is here.

If you are having trouble breathing, are confused or symptoms are becoming unmanageable at home call 911.

How Likely Am I To Get COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads quite easily. Each person who has it will likely infect 2.5 other people. Because it is a new virus we do not have any immunity to it. This is why the government, the CDC, the World Health Organization and health care professionals are trying so hard to limit the spread.

How Can I Prevent Getting COVID-19?

 

The two biggest things you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19 is social distancing and hand washing.

Stay home and only go out for the essentials. Avoid gatherings (even small), if your child’s school has been canceled do not plan playdates, if you need to get out of the house for a walk maintain a distance of 6 feet.

Wash your hands frequently and for a minimum of 20 seconds. Wash them often, and especially before preparing food, eating or providing care to your child.

Hand sanitizers are helpful when you are not able to wash your hands. They must contain at least 60% alcohol. Hand washing is the best method of removing viruses from your hands so wash as soon as possible.

How Can I Treat COVID-19?

A virus is different than a bacterial infection. Viruses are not receptive to antibiotics. Treatment options are supportive. Drinking lots of fluids, getting lots of rest, using medications for comfort (Tylenol for fever and aches and pains). Vaccines provide immunity against viruses but there is not a vaccine for COVID-19 yet (the most recent projection is hoping for one to be developed by 2021).

Can Children Get COVID-19?

YES! Children can get COVID-19. Symptoms are similar to that of adults (fever, runny nose, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea in some cases). To date, most children have had milder symptoms than adults. Any underlying medical issues or respiratory issues would put your child at a higher risk of developing complications.

Protect your child by social distancing and hand washing. Teach them how to wash their hands properly. If you still have to work, change your clothes and wash your hands before holding or touching your children.

Pregnancy And COVID-19

Because of the limited number of cases, it is still unknown if a woman can pass the infection to her fetus during pregnancy or during delivery. There have been no cases of babies born to mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 testing positive for COVID-19. The virus has also not been found in samples of breastmilk or amniotic fluid.

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes that can put them at higher risk for infection. It is always advised for women to be proactive in preventing illness while they are pregnant.

Many hospitals are putting restrictions on visitors after delivery. Talk to your doctor and be aware of any updated policies. Limit visitors for yourself and your infant once they arrive. Wash your hands before handling your baby. Use good cough etiquette (cough into your elbow).

Breastfeeding And COVID-19


The current CDC recommendations on breastfeeding encourage mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to continue breastfeeding. It is currently unknown if the virus passes through breastmilk but other similar respiratory viruses do not pass through breastmilk. Breastfeeding provides protection for many illnesses and it is the best source of nutrition for infants.

If you have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 and are breastfeeding:

Wash your hands before touching your baby or your breast
Do not cough or sneeze near or on your infant
Wear a mask while breastfeeding
Change your clothing if you have coughed or sneezed into your elbow
If you are pumping, properly wash and sterilize pump and bottle parts as per the manufacturer’s recommendation

How Do I Teach My Child About COVID-19?

This is a scary time for adults and children. Try to keep as much normalcy in your child’s day as possible. Stick to a regular routine. Talk to them about COVID-19 in terms they can understand. Tell them that you will keep them safe. Teach them proper handwashing (here is a great resource on handwashing). Teach them to cough into their elbows (cough pocket) and not to put toys in their mouths. Practice social isolation and stay home.

I know this is a difficult time for everyone. Please feel free to reach out to me here with any questions, I would love to help you. All of us at The Mama Coach is thinking of you and your little ones!

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