5 Important points for new parents during the COVID-19 Pandemic

New parents face additional challenges during the coronavirus pandemic while trying to care for his or her newborns. Here are the recommendation experts give to stay your baby safe and healthy. From seeing your pediatrician over a screen instead of in person, to securing the formula and wipes you need while everyone else is hoarding supplies, COVID-19 has created a challenging new reality that new parents must face.

The postpartum period is usually filled with joy for most new parents, but in the current scenario, most of us are faced with a new way of life, and there can be an increase in levels of anxiety and depression.

The good news is that even though you feel more isolated than ever, you are not alone. Experts weigh in on how new parents can navigate through the subsequent few months.

1) Keep Your Well-Baby Visits

Your pediatrician can advise on whether you ought to still be bringing your baby into their office for his or her scheduled well visits. Given the present climate, some doctors are completely switching over to virtual visits over Skype, Zoom, or another platform, even for young babies.

"While it does not allow for the ability to get the exam that we would wish, we still have the tools to see if the baby has the correct muscle tone, visually appears to be gaining weight as we would expect, and is not having any distress, such as problems breathing."

A video visit is more ideal than a phone call, says Dr. Dougherty, because it allows the doctor to see the interaction between the parents and the baby, ask questions, and even assess any roadblocks with breastfeeding if needed.

But your pediatrician can schedule a more thorough in-office follow-up if they notice anything concerning over video, like a respiratory problem, otherwise, they will still monitor problems, such as diaper rash, feeding and/or forceful spitting up, through subsequent video check-ins.

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2) How to Handle Vaccine Appointments

Even if your well visits have moved online, you'll likely still need to bring your baby into your doctor's office to get their vaccines. Delaying them usually isn't advised because the timing is critical to protect them against diseases like meningitis and whooping cough.

Still, given the current level of risk (especially for a baby born prematurely or with another health condition), he adds, some vaccine appointments may need to be delayed. You and your pediatrician can discuss and make the safest timeline for your little one.

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3) Stay Safe When Stepping Outside

Now is the time to lean into staying home and safe while enjoying extra snuggle time. When you need to go out, enjoy solo walks in the fresh air with your baby while making sure to keep a six-foot distance from others. These are great for your mental health as well. Dr. Dougherty says the risk to your baby is low because they will be in their stroller and not touching any surfaces. However, he says it's best to avoid bringing your baby into the grocery store and pharmacy since it may be harder to maintain distance from others.

If you are starved for parent-to-parent interaction, look to see if any local parent groups in your area have moved to online meetings. There are also Facebook groups parents can join where active forums and chats can offer support, like the Fussy Baby Support Group with more than 34,000 members. You can also ask your health care provider if they are offering any online support groups for people who recently gave birth.

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4) Get the Supplies You Need

New parents across the country may also be dealing with shortages of critical supplies they need like diapers, wipes, and formula. This is especially affecting families who rely on special varieties of allergen-friendly formula and families who can't afford to stock up on many products at once.

If you can't find what you need in the store or online, try reaching out to the supplier or manufacturer directly. They may have more in stock and could send it directly to you. If you're in a pinch, you can also ask your pediatrician's office if they have extra samples or if there's an alternative brand that will work for your baby for the time being. And if you don't have anyone else to stay with the baby when you do a grocery run or head to the pharmacy, it might be best to stick to ordering what you need online instead.

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5) Always Ask for Help When Needed

Getting help for child care isn't likely right now. That's why careful planning is more important than ever to make sure you have what you need to get through the day. Share responsibilities among yourself, sharing responsibility would be critical at this time so that one parent does not get overwhelmed.

And it's important to focus on your mental health, too. If you do start to feel overwhelmed or think you might be experiencing postpartum depression, reach out for professional help. Virtual therapists are offering online sessions so new parents can still get the support they need.

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