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We answered parents' most important questions about COVID-19

Including how to recognize symptoms, what to do if you're pregnant and where to get financial help.

parents coronavirus questions

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt around the world—and as cases resurge in the U.S.—parents have particular questions about how to keep their families safe and healthy. We've collected answers to some of the most common questions parents have asked about coronavirus. Because the situation is evolving so rapidly, advice may change as new information comes to light.

Knowledge is power—and we want you to feel empowered, not panicked. Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions from parents about coronavirus.


What should we do if there are coronavirus cases nearby?

Experts advise that the best course of action to avoid transmitting or spreading the virus is to practice social distancing: Basically, avoid unnecessary travel, stick close to home and do not gather in large groups.

Health regulations vary widely from state to state (and even from town to town) depending on whether cases are rising or falling locally. The most important thing you can do is to stay informed about local virus transmission rates and public health directives in your area.

In addition to social distancing, experts agree that wearing a mask in public places, particularly while indoors, helps prevent asymptomatic transmission of the virus while also helping protect at-risk people such as pregnant women, the elderly and frontline and emergency workers. The CDC recommends wearing a mask wherever it is difficult to maintain social distance, especially if the virus is active in your area.

While dealing with closures and lifestyle changes due to social distancing may be stressful, social distancing and masks are both important weapons in "flattening the curve" of the infection's spread.

For more resources:

What are the symptoms of coronavirus? The CDC has updated its list

coronavirus flu cold symptom chart

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, may include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recently updated its list of symptoms to include congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea as coronavirus symptoms.

Unfortunately for parents everywhere, all of these are also common symptoms of colds and flu. The chart above breaks down how the symptoms of coronavirus differ from the symptoms of cold, flu, RSV and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms that are more unique to COVID-19 include a loss of taste or smell, in addition to chills, muscle pain and shaking due to chills. Some studies have also noted that skin lesions on the toes or hands, sometimes referred to as COVID toes, can occur in children and adults with the virus.

If anyone in my family has symptoms, what should we do?

The CDC advises that you call your doctor or health care provider if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus that include high fever, cough or shortness of breath. Your doctor will be able to provide next steps for your care as well as help you get tested.

Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to arouse and blueness in the lips or face. These symptoms are signs that you should call 911 immediately. The operator should be told that you that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Other steps to take if you experience symptoms, as recommended by the CDC:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Wear a face mask if you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen.

What can I do to keep my family from getting sick?

While there's no silver bullet that will prevent coronavirus, experts recommend frequent hand-washing, cleaning high-touch surfaces in the house regularly (here's how to clean your house to prevent coronavirus) and paying close attention to hygiene.

There are also some simple actions you can take to help boost your family's immune systems overall, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthful foods. And of course, social distancing is the top method health professionals recommend to prevent yourself—and others—from transmitting the virus.

More resources about how coronavirus impacts children, babies, and moms-to-be:

Is it okay to take kids out to public places? Can we go to the playground?

Especially if you live in an area where the number of cases is rapidly rising, experts recommend using an abundance of caution and staying home as much as possible. That means not scheduling any unnecessary social gatherings like birthday parties, sleepovers and play dates. Playgrounds are also not advised right now, although if you are lucky enough to live in an area where cases and hospitalizations are low and declining, some summer activities (like going to the beach) are considered lower risk.

Social distancing for families is hard, but it's so important to take it seriously. Taking kids to ride bikes or for a walk—where it's easy to maintain space between people—is okay, but taking kids to shopping centers, playgrounds and other public places where large numbers of people gather in close contact is discouraged.

Right now, the best place for kids to play is at home.


More ideas for keeping kids busy during the coronavirus pandemic:

Is it safe to travel with kids?

The answer is changing every day, but experts say that local travel by car is perfectly safe. It may be wisest to postpone family vacations through the summer, though.

The CDC's guidelines for nonessential travel are basically a decision tree, encouraging individuals to consider the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you're going? You can get infected while traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? Even if you don't have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip? Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.

More resources for family travel during the pandemic:

How do I tell my kids about coronavirus?

Talking to your kids about coronavirus is important, whether you're soothing their worries or simply reminding them about the importance of good hand washing. The potential for disruption to daily life is high, but the CDC still says the risk to children is low.

Be calm, meet your child where they are in terms of their interest level in the news and remember that it's okay not to have all the answers.

More resources for talking with kids about coronavirus + social distancing and managing their fears:

What do pregnant women need to know about coronavirus?

Preventing exposure to coronavirus if you are pregnant

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has noted precautions that pregnant women and nursing women should take to help limit their exposure to coronavirus and stresses that pregnant women should stay in touch with their care providers to be advised of the most recent protocols.

Here are the current guidelines for pregnant women from ACOG:

  • Pregnant people should report concerning symptoms immediately: these include fever, cough, and chest tightness or difficulty breathing.
  • Providers will be following a detailed algorithm when deciding when to test pregnant people for COVID-19. The primary criteria involve assessing the presence of coronavirus symptoms.
  • Regarding travel, pregnant women (like all people) should adhere to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for specific areas, in addition to consulting with their providers.
  • ACOG does not currently recommend that women change their labor + delivery plans in response to the pandemic.
  • ACOG also does not endorse that women plan to give birth at home rather than at their hospital, noting that "ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" as opposed to giving birth at home.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while pregnant

It does not appear that COVID-19 can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, according to studies. That said, pregnant women who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to take special precautions during pregnancy, labor and delivery. A recent CDC study has suggested that pregnant women with coronavirus are more likely to be hospitalized and to require ventilation.

Here are the current guidelines from ACOG for pregnant women who have tested positive:

  • Follow advice from the CDC, your OB-GYN and your primary health care provider.
  • Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
  • Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical care right away if you feel worse or think it's an emergency.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home.
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.

Giving birth during a pandemic

Here's everything we know about giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic so far.

After delivery, your doctor or midwife may recommend your baby be cared for in another part of the hospital temporarily. This is done as a protective measure for the infant and only in certain cases, with careful consideration. The CDC says that when it comes to separating a mother and baby due to COVID-19 concerns, the risks and benefits should be explained to the mother, and it should not be considered the first or only option.

Preparing for postpartum during a pandemic

The good news is, your doctor's recommendations for caring for yourself and your baby in the weeks after delivery are not all that different from pre-pandemic times: Stay home, rest, take care of yourself and stay in close contact with your care provider.

Here are resources for making the transition to new motherhood a peaceful and healthy one, even during this stressful time:

Can I start IVF during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are about to start IVF, you should speak with your reproductive endocrinologist about whether they are starting any IVF cycles at this time, and about the risks of going forward with your cycle. Motherly's education editor and certified nurse midwife Diana Spalding recommends that people consider freezing their embryos and not do a fresh transfer right now—we are still learning a lot about the impacts of coronavirus on pregnancy so delaying conception a bit may decrease the chance of potential risks associated with the infection.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants, and it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta. Since pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from similar respiratory infections, pregnant women are considered an "at-risk population" for COVID-19.

The data on coronavirus infections in pregnancy is minimal. Providing care for pregnant women with severe infections will possibly be more difficult and resource-intensive. Some of the drugs that are being considered for treatment may not be usable in pregnant women, for instance.

It may be best to postpone your cycle for multiple reasons, including unknown risks of infection during pregnancy, desire to minimize in-person interactions, and preserving medical resources for urgent COVID-19 patients.

When will kids go back to school?

As of this update, school closures have impacted public and private schools and preschools in all 50 states. The timeline for going back to school depends on where you live.

The American Academy of Pediatrics hopes to see students in schools come September. In recently released guidance on school re-entry, the AAP "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."

When school does reopen in the fall, it is likely that additional cleaning and social distancing measures will be in place, regardless of where you live. The CDC has published detailed recommendations for schools for local districts to implement as best they can. These recommendations for safely reopening schools include:

  • Training staff and teachers to prevent transmission of the virus and to recognize signs of illness
  • Promoting hand washing and healthy hygiene practices
  • "Intensifying" cleaning, disinfection and ventilation
  • Employees wearing cloth masks, "as feasible"
  • Maintaining social distancing by increasing spacing and creating small groups that don't intermix

More information about when and how schools are reopening:

What should I do if I can't pay my bills because I'm out of work?

We understand this is a tough time right now, mama, and not everyone is getting paid while they're out of work. The federal government has announced relief payments for people affected by the pandemic and pushed back the tax deadline to July 15, although if you qualify for a refund, you should file earlier. There are a few additional things you can do if you're facing hardship:

  1. Call your landlord or the bank that holds your mortgage and discuss your options during a pandemic. Some states are seeking to ban evictions during the pandemic.
  2. Contact your credit card company and ask about payment plan options, or if there are any interest deferrals during a time of crisis.
  3. If you have student loan payments, interest payments on federal loans have been paused during the pandemic. Speak to your loan provider to see if there are any other resources available.
  4. Contact your local diaper bank if you cannot afford more diapers. You can find one close to you here.
  5. Here's what to do if you cannot afford baby formula, or if you cannot find baby formula in your area. We're also tracking places where parents can find formula, diapers and wipes.
  6. Here's where to find free and low-cost food during the pandemic.
  7. Call your representatives in state and municipal government. Some areas are making plans to help those hit by financial hardship during this time.

How do I work from home with kids around?

With offices across the country encouraging workers to clock in remotely, and schools closing in district after district, finding a way to work from home with kids is a high priority for a growing number of parents. It's definitely possible—and we've got lots of work from home strategies to help (the entire staff at Motherly works from home—almost all of us with kids—so we're all right there with you, mama).

[This post was originally published April 3, 2020. It has been updated.]

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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Life