A Pediatrician's Complete Guide to Bringing Home a Newborn During a Pandemic
Dr. Kathrym España is Board Certified in Pediatrics, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is fluent in both English and Spanish. She is a practitioner at Concierge Pediatrics in Houston, TX, and can be found on SocialMama as an Expert!
Having a baby, in itself, can be an anxious endeavor. And now given our state of Pandemic, times can seem exponentially harder. This is where we’d like to help give you a sense of ease and a plan for how you can keep your baby and home safe.
What can you do to best sanitize your home?
Realistically, germs are unavoidable. Yet, there are several things you can do in (and before you even enter) your home that can protect your living space against outside bacterial and viral exposure.
1. First and foremost, leave your shoes outside. It goes without saying that our shoes probably have the most access to germs in any outing, so it’s best to just leave them at the door. You may also choose to sanitize the bottoms of your shoes using a solution of 1-part bleach to 5-parts water. Simply spray and wipe or let air-dry outside.
2. Remove worn clothes immediately and put in wash. If you’re worried about your clothes fading from having to wash so frequently, add a half cup of vinegar to your wash load. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell is washed away during the rinse cycle!
3. Wipe down door handles, light switches, and frequently used surfaces daily. Using the solution mentioned earlier, you can spray and wipe the areas of your house that get the most hand exposure. If you’re concerned about too much bleach, you could increase the amount of water in the solution and add essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus and peppermint. These oils possess both antibacterial and antiviral properties, allowing for safe usage in the home.
4. Sanitize any products you’re bringing in the home. For starters, if there is any packaging that you can remove from your recent purchase before entering the house, do so! Whether it’s an Amazon/ UPS delivery box or food delivery packaging, remove the boxes outside and transfer your purchase to a safe plate or bag before bringing inside. Once in the home, you can use your sanitizing solution to wipe down grocery containers or other supplies before putting them away.
5. Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Especially in the case with COVID-19, one of the most beneficial measures you can take is to wash hands and create suds. The virus itself has a lipid crown layer with which it attaches to cells. Anything that disrupts this lipid (fat) layer will severely limit its negative effect on the body. Externally, on surfaces, this means giving your hands the much-needed time to thoroughly wash, allowing for this lipid-layer to be disrupted.
Is breastfeeding safe?
It’s no argument that a mother’s breastmilk is extremely beneficial for newborns, especially in building their little immune systems. The concern during this pandemic is whether or not it’s safe for the mouth to skin contact during nursing. Our answer on this varies. Currently many hospitals are running COVID testing on mothers in Labor and Delivery to ensure that proper care is provided for both mom and baby during the hospital stay. In the case that testing arrives back as negative, there is no need to avoid physically nursing your baby. If the case arises that the mom has tested positive, then the best option for mom and baby would be to extract the milk via a breast pump and bottle feed until momma is cleared for contact. Although this situation is not ideal, our primary goal in suggesting is ultimately to protect the baby.
What supplies should I stock up on?
Thankfully, a newborn's needs are fairly minimal in the first few months. In short, your little one will need food, clothing, diapers, wipes and love. If you are currently expecting and due soon, we’d recommend being stocked with at least one-month supply for newborn and size 1 diapers (TIP: many stores will allow you to exchange sizes if the box is unopened, so keep the diapers in their original packaging until it’s time to use). You can expect to be changing your baby 10-15 times per day in the beginning, as your little one will be releasing its bladder more frequently and while you’re also learning his or her bowel schedule. You can calculate wipes based on changing, too, as you’ll typically use between 1-3 wipes per change.
What guidelines should I communicate with family?
We know that during this time, it’s most challenging to avoid contact with loved ones, especially grandparents who are so excited to meet the new additions. While you have the choice to be as liberal or conservative as you wish with boundaries, we strongly recommend taking extra precaution in introducing your newborn to new friends and family members. Upon birth, an infant’s immune system is still in the very young stages of development, making newborns extremely susceptible to illness. It’s also worth mentioning that grandparents or other family members over the age of 60 may be immunocompromised as well, meaning that an in-person visit could be detrimental to their health after your hospital stay. We suggest taking advantage of technology as much as possible during this time (via FaceTime or a conferencing tool), allowing for your loved ones to view your little one with sound and video.
It’s difficult to not feel anxious during so much uncertainty – are there any tips to help manage anxiety?
Aside from the normal hormonal ups and downs of pregnancy and delivery, a pandemic is sure to throw a wrench in attempts to manage anxiety. And while we can’t promise that you’ll have more control in the coming months, we can recommend a few stress-relieving practices.
1. Take a warm Epsom Salt bath. The magnesium from the salts is a safe and natural remedy to help calm your brain, muscles and nerves. Soaking for 15-20 minutes can help you feel at ease and is perfect just before bed! If you’re pregnant, you’ll want to be sure to avoid a water temperate that is too hot. And if you’re a new mom, you may find this especially helpful in soothing the pains from childbirth and easing the tension from having a newborn.
2. Diaphragm breathing. This method of breathing, sometimes referred to as “belly breathing,” is a technique that has been shown to help individuals lower their heart rate, lower blood pressure, and control the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. To practice diaphragm breathing, start by placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Some like to try this their first time laying down to ensure utmost relaxation. Begin to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, giving at least 5 seconds to each. What you’re looking for in your hands is that your belly expands with each breathe, not just your chest. Rest after 3 or 4 breathes, and then repeat 4-5 times.
3. Keep in close contact with your OBGYN or midwife. Whether you’re pregnant or a new mom, your mental health is going to be critical in providing a healthy environment or your baby. Because the changes in a mom’s body are so plentiful during pregnancy and childbirth, communication with your OB/midwife will be pertinent in identifying any hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies or the need for additional therapies.
Other Useful Tips:
We know just how difficult it can be for new moms to think of themselves once their bundle of joy arrives, but even the most simple self-care tips can ensure that a mom is able to operate at her best.
1. For starters, rest when your baby rests. It may not be feasible to do this every time your baby goes down, but trust us when we tell you that filling those times with chores and other activities will only lead you to inevitable burn out.
2. Second, make sure you’re eating nutrient-rich foods and snacks. You may try baking protein-packed lactation cookies or zucchini bread to keep around for easy munching. It may also be beneficial for you to invest in a high-quality, fresh-squeezed juice delivery.
3. Pre-make meals before baby’s arrival. Because you’ll most likely be limited in having company and meals delivered to you, it’s a good idea to pre-make simple meals that you can freeze and take out when baby arrives. We recommend checking out Pinterest for quick meals that you can throw in the oven, Crockpot or Instapot.
4. Find a pediatrician that’s available for you! Especially during a pandemic, we can understand how any signs of illness or unexpected change in behavior can be alarming. And when you’re worried about your child, you may not want or be able to wait until the “next available appointment” or until after the weekend to get your baby the care he or she needs. That’s why our unique concierge model is favored by so many moms. You’ll have 24/7 access to your pediatrician by phone, text and email. Plus, when you come in for your appointments, you’ll be able to enjoy ample amounts of time with the doctor (typically 1 hour). We also arrange our appointments so that we have little to no children in a waiting area at any given time in order to protect your family against exposure to any illness.
Have questions or interested in concierge pediatric care?
Call Dr. Espana at (832) 940-2262
550 Westcott St #370 Houston, TX 77007
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About the Contributor:
Dr. España is Board Certified Pediatrician. She obtained her medical degree in 2004 from University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas and completed her Pediatric Residency training in 2007. She has a strong belief in preventive medicine and prides herself in always taking the time to help educate parents in ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle for their children.