Midwives will continue to provide support to women and their babies in the community in the postnatal period. However the way your postnatal care is provided may be different.
- Visits may need to be done virtually or by telephone
- You may be asked to attend a postnatal clinic to be seen by your midwife
If you are feeling unwell or develop symptoms of coronavirus contact your community midwife before they visit or you attend a postnatal clinic.
If my baby is receiving neonatal care will I be allowed to visit them?
At the moment units are allowing one parent access to their baby on the unit as long as they do not have, or are not suspected to have, COVID-19. Children are not permitted to visit.
Parents who are being screened for COVID-19 will not be allowed access to their baby until a negative test has been confirmed.
If you are unsure, call your neonatal unit. Please do not go to the unit if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature or new persistent cough or a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste) or if you are concerned that you might have been in contact with someone who has it.
As you will appreciate units might change their policies at short notice as the situation develops. Check with your neonatal unit for the most up to date information.
Prior to visiting your baby in the unit you must ensure that you carry out full hand washing or use sanitizer on entry when visiting. If possible you should be bare below the elbows, and have no jewellery except a flat wedding band. Hands should be washed or sanitizer used when leaving the unit. The neonatal unit staff will talk you through the process and the layout of the unit on your first visit.
The charity Tiny Life offer support to parents of premature or ill babies. They also offer a breast pump loan service. Find out more at: www.tinylife.org.uk
All newborn screening programmes will be maintained during this time due to their time critical nature.
Newborn blood spot (‘heel prick test’)
The Newborn Blood Spot Screening Programme will continue to run as normal. All babies in NI should be offered blood spot screening. This screening test, also known as the ‘heel prick test’ is routinely carried out on Day 5 of life. For more information discuss with your midwife or visit here.
Newborn hearing screening (NHSP)
Newborn hearing screening continues to be provided during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Inpatients: If you, or your baby, are in hospital and are being tested, or have tested positive for Covid-19, or have symptoms associated with the virus, newborn hearing screening will be deferred and you will be offered this screening at a later date.
Outpatients: If you, or your baby, are being tested, or have tested positive for Covid-19, or have symptoms associated with the virus, do not attend for an arranged outpatient newborn hearing screening appointment. In this instance, please contact your healthcare provider immediately, to arrange a follow up appointment.
Further information about the NHSP can be found here: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/directorate-public-health/service-development-and-screening/newborn-screening
Infant feeding advice
Breastfeeding if you have suspected or confirmed coronavirus
Breastmilk and breastfeeding has significant benefits for mothers and babies. There is currently no evidence showing that the virus can be carried in breastmilk.
The well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk. Babies who are born sick and / or preterm are vulnerable and breastmilk can help to protect them from harmful diseases such as respiratory infections and necrotising enterocolitis.
The main risk of breastfeeding if you have coronavirus is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infective airborne droplets, leading to infection of the baby after birth.
A discussion about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding should take place between you and your family and your maternity team.
This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the following precautions are recommended:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
- Try to avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast
- Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
- Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
- Consider asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to your baby.
Bottle-feeding mothers who are suspected or confirmed as having Covid-19
The following precautions are recommended:
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing feeds, touching the baby or handling bottles
- Try and avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding
- Consider wearing a face mask while bottle-feeding, if available
- Where possible have someone who is well feed baby
- Strict adherence to sterilisation guidelines is recommended: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/sterilising-bottles/
Breast milk is both healthy food and natural medicine for your baby. Breastfeeding is a skill you learn over time. A mother and her baby usually take a few weeks to get used to breastfeeding. Your family, friends and the baby’s father can support and help you when you’re breastfeeding. To find out what support is available click here.
COVID-19 Breastfeeding support
During the COVID-19 response and recovery period all the Breastfeeding Support Groups in NI are not operating.
However, many new online Breastfeeding Support Groups are now available across NI. These groups are open to any interested pregnant women and new mums and are a great opportunity to find out more about breastfeeding, you can meet with other breastfeeding mums online and get any questions you may have answered. Ask your midwife or health visitor about your local Online Breastfeeding Support Group and join a Zoom or Microsoft Team for some information and support.
To find out more here click here.
COVID-19: Information for parents of newborn babies