Information for Families
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Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
With the many changes that take place within the body during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of some infections, which may place pregnant women at a higher risk of severe illness.
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at a greater risk for more serious outcomes related to COVID-19. However, it is always important for pregnant women to take the appropriate steps to protect themselves from illnesses by consistently practising good respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing/coughing into a tissue or elbow) and hand hygiene (e.g., frequent handwashing with soap and water).
Breastfeeding remains the safest way to feed infants. Women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so. When breastfeeding with COVID-19, women should cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or a tissue, wear a mask, wash their hands before and after touching the baby and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should be aware of symptoms associated with COVID-19 and contact their health care provider early on if they feel unwell.
Parents of Young Children
Children are not at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults and the symptoms for COVID-19 are the same for both children and adults. Symptoms include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing, ranging from mild to severe. The best way to protect children from COVID-19 is to:
- Teach children how to wash their hands with soap and water.
- Show children how to cover their cough by coughing into their sleeve or a bent elbow.
- Remind them to sneeze into a tissue, throw it away, and then wash their hands.
- Remind children to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Teach children what physical distancing is and why they must practice it.
- Have children stay away from those that are ill.
- To reduce germs, wash children’s toys according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
- Families should create an emergency preparedness plan to ensure they have what they need in case of self-isolation.
For parents of children showing symptoms of COVID-19, immediately call their health care provider or Windsor-Essex County Health Unit at 519-258-2146. Please do not visit a health care provider or walk-in clinic without calling beforehand.
It is important that parents and caregivers take care of themselves for their own well-being and their children’s well-being. For example, staying active and well-nourished, sleeping well, and staying connected with others can help improve parents’ ability to cope with any challenges.
Unlicensed Child Care Settings
Symptoms currently associated with COVID-19 are similar to many common respiratory illnesses that may be circulating through unlicensed childcare settings. Key strategies to prevent and control respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, in childcare settings are:
- Children or staff who are ill with fever and/or infectious respiratory symptoms should stay home from child care/work.
- Consistently practise good respiratory etiquette (e.g., sneezing/coughing into a tissue or elbow) and hand hygiene (e.g., frequent handwashing with soap and water).
- Ensure regular and routine environmental cleaning of the home/facility.
- Reinforce “no food sharing” policies.
Talking to children about COVID-19
This may be a challenging time for children as they may not understand why schools are closed or why they can’t visit other family and friends. Children may begin to worry about themselves, their families, or friends getting sick. It is important to talk to children about COVID-19 to help reduce their fears. When talking to children:
- Emphasize that they and their family are ok.
- Avoid using language that might blame others.
- Provide information that is honest and accurate.
- Acknowledge their fears.
- Provide facts about what has happened.
- Explain the overall risk of getting the virus.
- Give clear information about how they can reduce their risk of being infected.
- In a reassuring way, explain what happens if they or a family member gets sick.
- Discuss any questions they may have.
- Reassure them that symptoms in children are generally mild.
- Use words that they understand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can COVID-19 be passed from a mother to her fetus or infant during pregnancy or delivery?
There is currently no evidence showing that a pregnant mother can pass the COVID-19 to her fetus or infant during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, the COVID-19 virus DNA was not found in the amniotic fluid, placenta, and breastmilk from pregnant women with confirmed COVID-19.
Can a mother with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 still breastfeed?
Yes. A mother with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can still breastfeed. When breastfeeding with COVID-19, women should cough or sneeze into their bent elbow or a tissue, wear a mask, wash their hands before and after touching the baby and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces.
How can mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who wish to breastfeed but are too unwell can feed their baby?
Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who are too unwell to breastfeed may want to consider having someone who does not have symptoms feed hand or pump expressed breast milk to the infant whenever possible. Women are advised to wash their hands prior to touching the breast, bottle parts, or pump and to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for proper bottle and pump cleaning.
Should pregnant women and women who have recently gave birth, including those affected by COVID-19, attend their routine care appointments?
Yes. Pregnant women and women who have recently gave birth, including those affected by COVID-19, should attend their routine care appointments. However, they should not go to their health care provider without calling beforehand.
Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to give birth by caesarean section?
No. Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified. Mode of birth should be based on a women’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
Are children at a higher risk of becoming sick with COVID-19?
No. Children are not at a higher risk for COVID-19 than adults and a majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in adults.
Are symptoms of COVID-19 different in children than adults?
No. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults and they include symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Parents are advised to learn about the symptoms of COVID-19 and to call their health care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit @ 519-258-2146 if their child is showing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.
Are children with underlying medical conditions at a higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19?
Symptoms in children are generally mild; however, children with serious underlying conditions might be at a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19. Until more is known, parents are advised to call their health care provider or the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit @ 519-258-2146 if their child is showing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19.
Should unlicensed childcare settings be actively screening for COVID-19?
Yes. At the beginning of each day, unlicensed child care settings are advised to actively screen all children, staff, and visitors for fevers, new or existing cough, or difficulty breathing, and if they’ve travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
How to manage individuals who develop symptoms of possible COVID-19 in childcare settings?
If an individual (child, visitor, etc.) shows symptoms of COVID-19, separate them immediately from others in a supervised area until they can go home or be picked up. If possible, stay two metres from the individual. When the individual has left, clean and disinfect the area where they were separated.
What can I do to keep my family active while distancing myself from others?
There are many safe activities that you can enjoy with your family while avoiding large crowds.
- Go for an evening walk. If you have dogs, include them as well. That way everyone benefits from being active.
- Explore a local park or green space area. Go for a hike on a park trail or path. You could even try some birdwatching while on the hike.
- With the warmer weather coming, this can be a great time to get the bike out and take the family on a ride through the neighbourhood or on some of your local parks trails.
- Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football that you can kick or throw around in your yard or at the park. Be creative with your children on different ways you can play some games with the equipment.
- Bring some chalk outside and play hopscotch or other fun jumping/skipping games with your children.
- To get everyone in the family moving and away from those screens, include the whole family in some early spring cleaning or helping out with some yard work around the house.
How to keep children mentally well during COVID-19?
Parents should maintain communication with their children while being patient and understanding. Parents know their children best, but may want to consider these tips:
- Stay calm.
- Don’t complicate the situation, keep it simple and clear.
- Listen to children’s fears and thoughts.
- Keep information ageappropriate.
- Limit news and media exposure.
- Try to establish a flexible routine.
What are the signs that a child might be struggling with their mental health?
A child might be struggling with their mental health if they have changes in behaviour or emotions (e.g., angry outbursts or depressed mood) that last most of the day or for a period of time (e.g., more than a week), or interfere with their thoughts, feelings, or daily functioning. In addition, if they tell their parents they feel sad or anxious a lot or if they express thoughts of hurting themselves. If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately, call 9-1-1, or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19.
How to access help for children’s mental health?
If a child engages in suicidal behaviour, seek help from a mental health professional immediately. If they’re experiencing a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency room. When visiting an emergency room, individuals will have to participate in an active screening for COVID-19. Individuals who require immediate assessment, psychosocial intervention, medical intervention, and support may also call the Community Crisis Centre of Windsor-Essex County @ 519-973-4435 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, try visiting the Kids’ Help Phone Resources Around Me to find helpful mental health resources and programs.
- COVID-19: Public health guidance for childcare settings
- COVID-19: Active Screening Tool
- COVID-19: Environmental cleaning in non-healthcare public settings
- Information about COVID-19 for Pregnant/Breastfeeding Mothers
- How to talk with children about COVID-19
- Parenting in the time of COVID-19