Things are changing rapidly at the moment, but one thing remains the same is that approximately 2,000 babies are born per day in the UK. The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is adding many more layers of both practical and emotional pressures to the already stressful time of new parenthood.

As well as the practical and physical changes during this period, as many as one in five mothers, and one in ten fathers will develop a mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year after the birth.

Many expectant and new parents often rely on the social contact of family, friends and other parents for support, information and guidance, especially in the early weeks with the new baby. People’s plans for maternity leave, birth, and spending time with a new baby have been turned upside down.

We have highlighted some key issues for pregnant women with links to organisations and resources to help give information during these unprecedented times. It is a fast-moving and evolving situation so things will change – it is important to check the most up-to-date information and advice because childhood can’t wait.

Advice for pregnant women on coronavirus infection & pregnancy

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health are working to reassure pregnant women and those who care for them. Each link will take you to information and advice.

There is currently no new evidence to suggest that pregnant women are at greater risk from Coronavirus than other healthy individuals, or that they can pass the infection to their baby while pregnant.

The announcement including pregnant women with other vulnerable groups is described as purely a precautionary measure.

Several organisations are producing useful Frequently Asked Questions to respond to the Coronavirus crisis, such as these from Tommy's and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Taking care of yourself

Routine Appointments

Routine antenatal appointments during pregnancy are important. The general advice (issued on 18th March) is that these should continue as planned in the following way:

  • If you are well at the moment and have no complications in any past pregnancies
  • If you have a routine scan or visit due in the coming days contact your maternity unit for advice and to agree on a plan. You will still need to attend for a visit but the appointment may change due to staffing requirements.
  • If you are between appointments, wait to hear from your maternity team
  • If you have any concerns, contact your maternity team as usual but keep in mind they may take longer to get back to you
  • If you have an urgent problem related to your pregnancy but not related to Coronavirus, get in touch using the same emergency contact details you already have.
  • If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, contact your maternity services as soon as possible.

New Birth checks from Health Visitors are expected to continue as face-to-face visits, including the heel-prick blood spot tests.

Pre-birth visits and follow-up support may take place virtually, by phone or using digital technology, phone and text advice and digital signposting.  

Looking after your mind and your body

Best Beginnings have a free App called Baby Buddy which supports new parents and parents to be to look after their physical and mental health by sending encouraging daily updates. There is also a GET HELP button that clicks through to a free and confidential text-based Baby Buddy Crisis Messenger providing 24/7 support for anyone feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed.

Family Assist provides a wide range of information and resources on pregnancy and the early stages of your child's life. It acts as a library that stores all relevant information about your pregnancy in one place that can be accessed from your mobile phone, tablet or PC

Linking up with other mothers to share experiences and learn from one another, especially at a time when we are having to be further apart is a good way of helping you to stay connected and find support. The NHS recommends the free Peanut app which gives you access to a social network to connect with other women across fertility and motherhood making it easy to meet, chat and learn from like-minded women.

Mental Health

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or distressed it is important to seek help. Many mums tell us that they worry that if they speak about feeling depressed, anxious or having distressing thoughts that their baby will be taken away. But it's only in very few cases that parents are separated from their children, and there's lots of support available to help you make sure that never needs to happen. It is important to ask for help because you don't need to cope with these difficult experiences alone.

Useful Contact Details:

Association for Post-Natal Illness
Support for mothers suffering from postnatal depression and other perinatal mental illness
020 7386 0868

Pre and post-natal depression advice and support
0808 1961 776

0300 123 3393
Text help: 86463

Life at home with a new baby

Being able to get out and about to visit friends and family are important ways in which parents cope with the challenges of a newborn. These are all going to be restricted at the moment so it is important to find other ways of connecting, finding relief and accessing help and support when you need it.

In some places, baby and toddler groups have started to offer virtual meet-ups as a way to help parents stay connected and babies stimulated, so it is worth checking out to see what might be going on where you live.

There have been reports of parents finding it difficult to access formula milk for their babies, and also questions raised about the risks of transmitting coronavirus to a baby if the mother is suffering from the disease. Unicef is a source of reliable information linked to feeding your baby during the coronavirus crisis which can be found HERE

Useful Contact Details:

National Breastfeeding Helpline
0300 100 0212

Lullaby Trust
Safer sleep for babies

Family Lives (Parentline)
Any aspect of parenting or family life
Helpline: 0808 800 2222

Email support: [email protected]

NCT Helpline
Pregnancy, birth and feeding your baby
Helpline: 0300 330 0700

Supporting parents when English isn’t their first language

Mums-to-be and new parents who are living away from their country of origin, for whom English is not their first language, and who might have unsettled immigration status or are refugees from conflict face additional adversities at this difficult time, and will feel keenly the impacts of a loss of support services.

This article in the Community Practitioner offers a helpful exploration of the mental health needs of asylum-seeking women in the UK.

And Doctors of the world have produced translations of up to date NHS information and advice in 26 different languages

Other organisations providing information and support for parents experiencing particular challenges:

For parents of babies born early or sick 
Email support: [email protected]

Child Bereavement Trust
For parents of babies who die 
Helpline: 0800 02 888 40

For families with a disabled child
Helpline: 0808 808 3555

Down’s Syndrome Association
For people with Down's Syndrome, parents and families 
Helpline: 0333 1212 300

Multiple Births Foundation
Multiple Births

Twins Trust
For parents of twins, triplets and more
Helpline: 0800 138 0509
Email: [email protected]

For single parents

Relationship counselling, support and information for all relationships

One Plus One 
Relationship support

Stillbirth and neonatal death
Helpline: 0808 164 3332
Email: [email protected]

Pregnancy, baby loss, preterm birth

24-hour National Domestic Abuse Freephone Helpline: run in partnership with Women's Aid
Helpline 0808 2000 247

Scottish Women's Aid
For women experiencing domestic abuse
24-hour free Scottish Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline
Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Email help: [email protected]

Women's Aid
For women experiencing domestic abuse
24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline: run in partnership with Refuge 
Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Email support: [email protected]