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With hospitals, urgent care centers and doctors' offices across the country focused on diagnosing and treating COVID-19 cases, many parents are left wondering what medical appointments to reschedule...or skip altogether. Should you postpone your well-child visits? What about immunization appointments? And if you've just given birth during the coronavirus pandemic, should you come in to your provider's office with your newborn?

Right now, experts say, any health care appointment that isn't urgent should be postponed or rescheduled until a later time. This includes dental checkups, elective procedures, some routine well-child visits (see below for exceptions) and any other routine care appointments.

In a statement to Motherly, Dr. Deborah Ann Mulligan, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains: "In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefit of attending a well visit and receiving necessary immunizations and screenings should be balanced with the risk of exposure to other children and adults with potential contagious diseases."


Mulligan continues: "Many pediatricians are choosing to only conduct well visits for newborns, and for infants and younger children who require immunizations and to reschedule well visits for those in middle childhood and adolescence to a later date."

Here's the breakdown from experts on which medical appointments to keep, and which should be rescheduled for now:

Newborn follow-up care: Keep your appointments

"Newborns should continue to go to their scheduled pediatrician appointments, especially to receive their vaccines," advises the AAP via Twitter. That said, parents (and everybody else) are advised to avoid unnecessary travel, especially in areas with a high rate of infection. Be in touch with your pediatrician about how their office is handling newborn follow-up appointments—they may have special office hours for parents with newborns, in order to keep exposure to an absolute minimum.

According to Mulligan, "immunizing the youngest children is a top priority in the context of well child care."

Routine well-child visits: Reschedule your appointments

Wondering whether you need to keep your appointments for routine well-child checkups with your pediatrician? Experts recommend calling your pediatrician to find out if they're even offering routine care visits right now. If your child is not scheduled for an immunization, is not being treated for a chronic condition and is currently healthy, your visit can most likely be rescheduled in order to minimize unnecessary travel in accordance with CDC guidelines.

According to Mulligan, "Pediatricians may choose to limit well visits to early morning while reserving the remainder of the day for sick visits. Where at all possible many pediatricians are choosing to increase their capacity to deliver telehealth for both routine check ups 'virtual well child house call' and within reason sick visits for common childhood conditions such as rashes or pink eye."

Immunization visits + follow-up care for chronic conditions: Keep your appointments, but call your pediatrician

While receiving scheduled immunizations is important, especially for babies, doctors and parents are also weighing the risk of exposure to the virus on the trip to the doctor's office. "For children older than 2 years, waiting is probably fine—in most cases," writes Claire McCarthy, MD, faculty editor at Harvard Health Publishing. "For some children with special health conditions, or those who are behind on immunizations, waiting may not be a good idea."

Follow-up care for chronic conditions may also be the exception to the "postpone for now" rule, depending on the severity of the condition, the type of care provided and your child's age. The best advice is to be in touch with your pediatrician's office to find out what they're offering.

OB/GYN appointments: Reschedule, unless you're pregnant

Unless you're currently expecting, your annual trip to the gynecologist can be rescheduled for a later time. Pregnant women should be in touch with their care providers to come up with a plan for prenatal care and appointments.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends in their COVID-19 guidelines for prenatal and postpartum care visits that women contact their providers about alternatives to in-person visits: "Some women may have fewer or more spaced out in-person visits. You also may talk more with your health care team over the phone or through an online video call." Definitely call before going in to the office for your next scheduled appointment—your care team can let you know about your options.

If you have any questions about your child's health or whether or not you should seek in-person medical care always call your doctor. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

[This post was originally published 4/6/2020. It has been updated.]

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

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

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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