The second lockdown is coming to an end, but what is going to happen now? With so much information being pumped at us on TV every hour, and with different countries taking different approaches to the crisis, it can be hard to know exactly how best to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
If you're unsure what these updates mean for you as a young family, or a mum-to-be, here's all the latest advice for parents, children and expectant parents to keep you in the know.
In this article skip to:
What are the latest changes in England as of November 25th?
In October, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would be entering a second lockdown as of November 5th, which would end on 2 December.
On the 23rd of November, it was then confirmed that national restrictions in England will not be renewed when they end on 2 December.
Boris Johnson, speaking via video link, says from next Wednesday, people will be able to leave home for any purpose and meet others outside, according to the rule of six.
Outdoor sports will be allowed, shops will open, as will gyms and leisure centres. Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to reopen.
What is happening at Christmas?
On November 24th, it was confirmed that the coronavirus restrictions will be eased, allowing people to mix with a slightly wider circle of family and friends.
Between 23 and 27 December, three households will be allowed to form a temporary "Christmas bubble" where they can mix indoors and also stay overnight.
The bubbles will be fixed which means you cannot mix with two households on Christmas Day and then two different ones on Boxing Day. The households you are in a Christmas bubble with can't then be in others too.
If you live in England and you have formed a support bubble with another household, this counts as one household which means you can then join with two other households as part of a Christmas bubble.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to go with your Christmas bubble to pubs, restaurants, or to entertainment venues.
What about children at Christmas?
The government have announced that the children of parents who live apart for whatever reason are allowed to be part of two separate Christmas bubbles. This means that they can see both parents without being counted as part of another household.
Tiers for England to be announced on Thursday
Boris Johnson will announce which areas will fall into which tier later this week, probably on Thursday, he says.
The PM says he's "sorry to say" more areas will fall into higher levels of restrictions than they were in previously, at least temporarily.
But, by abiding to the tougher tier restrictions and the use of rapid turnaround tests, areas should also be able to move down the scale, he adds.
Maintaining pressure on the virus in this way will enable people to see more of their friends and family over Christmas, he adds.
The PM also says he would be strengthening enforcement for local authorities, including specially trained officers and new powers to close down premises that pose a risk.
- Tier one will now mean that people should continue to work from home where possible
- Tier two will now mean only pubs serving meals can open
- Tier three will now mean hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway and indoor entertainment venues must also close
A summary of the Government's COVID-19 winter plan can be found here.
Informal carers will be able to provide care for children and vulnerable adults in parts of the country with restrictions on interhousehold mixing. This means that any children under the age of 13 will be able to be cared for by people outside of their immediate household as part of a care bubble.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said: "I know how vital all types of childcare are for family life. Whether a friend, relative, or a professional carer, it is essential that our children or dependents are well looked after and loved."
Care bubbles mean that informal childcare arrangements are able to continue with another household, as long as they are consistent. One-off arrangements, such as a play date, are not permitted.
Your top 8 questions about family safety during coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis
Former Midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher has offered her expert advice to answer your top 12 COVID-19 questions…
1. I’m pregnant! Can I pass the virus to my unborn baby?
The good news is that, according to the latest advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, there is currently no evidence that the virus can pass to your baby during pregnancy. Also, infected pregnant women do not appear to be at a higher risk of miscarriage or to become more poorly than the general population.
2. How can I protect myself from catching the virus whilst I am pregnant?
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to catching infections because we naturally become more immune-suppressed in order to stop our bodies “rejecting” what is, in reality, only 50% our DNA. So, even without the worry of Covid-19, all pregnant women should practice really good hand hygiene. Every time you come home after being out and, of course, every time you go to the loo, wash your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds.
3. Are newborns more susceptible to coronavirus?
There is currently no evidence that Covid-19 causes serious problems in young babies. In any event, if your baby seems unwell and has a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more, you should get them checked by your GP.
4. My child already has a compromised immune system? What extra precautions should I be taking to protect them.
- Be scrupulous in insisting that everyone coming into contact with your child washes their hands properly and often, and to stay away if they are at all unwell.
- Ensure everyone uses a tissue or a sleeve to cough or sneeze into and then immediately bins it before re-washing hands.
- Encourage your child to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose with their hands, no matter how clean they are.
5. Is it safe to breastfeed? If I’m unwell, how do I protect my baby during breastfeeding?
Whenever a bug is doing the rounds in our neighbourhood, we start making antibodies to that bug and these pass into our milk and, therefore, into our baby. There is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus can pass into our milk and, as breast milk is likely to give your baby added antibody protection against Covid-19 as well as all the other bugs that are common at this time of year, the Royal College of Midwives recommend that you carry on breastfeeding.
If you have the virus yourself, the benefits of breastfeeding still outweigh the risk of you passing the virus on by coughing or sneezing, but you should wash your hands before and after feeding your baby or handling a breast pump and bottles, wear a face mask during feeding, follow the recommendations for cleaning which came with your pump and consider asking someone who is well to give your expressed milk to your baby with a bottle or specialist baby-feeding cup.
6. My child has mild cold/flu symptoms: When should I call the GP?
Because GP surgeries are already so busy at this time of year, the advice is that you should not call your GP at all if you suspect someone in your household has Covid-19. Instead, you should get a test if you think you or your child had coronavirus. Find out how you can get tested here.
7. What are the Covid-19 symptoms?
The most common symptoms are a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath.
8. What extra hygiene precautions can me and my family be taking?
The single most important factor in keeping ourselves and others well is regular, good hand-washing. Soap strips the bad bacteria without harming our own good bacteria whilst hand-gel kills good and bad alike. So, wherever possible, use soap and water and save gel for when you can’t find a sink. Encourage the children to choose a 20-second song to sing (they can use this great site to create their own hand-washing poster) and ensure you support their good habits by having soap, water and towels easy to reach and use. Teach your family to sneeze into a tissue and then bin it or, if there is no tissue handy, to sneeze and cough into their elbow sleeve.
Things you need to know about coronavirus if you're pregnant
It’s understandably a very worrying time for most people around the world with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
If you’re pregnant, your anxiety levels are bound to be heightened as your concerns grow for the welfare of you and your baby, so it’s important you know the facts and try not to focus too much on the scary news reports. There is still no evidence that pregnant women are more at risk of contracting the virus. There is also no evidence that coronavirus increases the chances of miscarriage.
While scientists are still trying to find out more about the virus and how it affects us, the experts suggest that pregnant women don’t have an increased chance of contracting coronavirus. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ‘pregnant women do not appear to be more susceptible to the consequences of infection with COVID-19 than the general population.’
In terms of changes to your day-to-day life, it’s important to follow the guidelines suggested to us all by avoiding places with large groups, public transport and work from home if you can, taking the precautions to keep yourself and your family safe.
What if I catch Coronavirus while I’m pregnant?
There is still very little known about Coronavirus in pregnancy. There has been a small study by Frontiers in Pediatrics where four pregnant women in Wuhan, China, who had all tested positive for COVID-19 were followed, and three gave consent for their babies to be tested for the virus. Of the three, none of the babies tested positive and all four babies were healthy and well when they left the hospital and did not have any symptoms of the fever.
You may have heard about one case where a newborn tested positive for coronavirus (mum also had coronavirus), but there are suggestions that this could have perhaps been contracted after birth as the baby wasn’t tested until 36 hours after being born.
In addition to this, coronavirus hasn't been found in umbilical cords, breastmilk or amniotic fluid, so currently, there isn’t anything to say that your baby can contract coronavirus from you if you have coronavirus while pregnant.
Can I still breastfeed if I have coronavirus?
✨CORONOVIRUS AND BREASTFEEDING✨To all the breastfeeding mamas out there worrying about doing the right thing for your baby right now, rest assured, you 100% are. I feel you. I am you! ✨ Much is unknown about covid-19 but what is certain is that it has not yet been detected in breastmilk samples of infected mothers. There are strong protective effects against infectious diseases provided in multiple ways via breastfeeding, which according to every medical organisation across the world, means that their position saying that breastfeeding remains the optimal way to feed babies steadfastly remains (unless there is already a separate contraindication in individual cases). ✨The emphasis is on infection prevention and control measures, rather than stopping breastfeeding ✨. . 🤱🏼 wash your hands regularly and especially before feeding your baby (the same applies for bottle-fed babies). . IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS: . 🤱🏽TRY not to cough or sneeze directly on your baby. If a face mask is available these can be worn (although need to be replaced if they become moist). Again, the same applies for bottle-fed babies. . 🤱🏻Stay close to your baby, practising skin-to-skin and sleeping in the same room, especially during establishing breastfeeding, whether you or your baby have suspected, probable or confirmed covid-19. (WHO, 13/3/20) . 🤱🏾If you feel too unwell to breastfeed directly, expressing breastmilk and having someone else feed your baby is the next advised option. Hands should be thoroughly washed before touching any pump parts or bottles. . 🤱🏿If a mother is too unwell to breastfeed or express, other options include using donor breastmilk, wet nursing, relactation (of a family member or friend) or formula milk depending on individual choice, safety and resources. . . This advice is collated from looking at the most up-to-date guidance from WHO, NHS, bfmed, CDC, LLL . #coronovirus #covid19 #breastfeeding #breastfeedingsupport #bottlefeeding #infantfeedingsafety #newmum #pregnant #thirdtrimester #fourthtrimester
As for giving your baby breastmilk, there is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus can pass into our milk and, as breast milk is likely to give your baby added antibody protection against Covid-19 as well as all the other bugs that are common at this time of year. Even if you have the virus yourself, the benefits of breastfeeding still outweigh the risk of you passing the virus on by coughing or sneezing say the Royal College of Midwives. If you do have the virus and are breastfeeding, it is obviously important to try and keep pumps, bottles and your breast area very clean and try and wear a facemask if you can get your hands on one.
Should I be worried about catching coronavirus in the hospital?
Although hospitals are very clean places, it's understandable that you might feel concerned about catching coronavirus while you're there.
If you're due to give birth in the coming months in a hospital and are worried about possibly contracting the virus there, you should talk with your midwife or doctor about any concerns you may have. It might be worth having a think about other back-up options if the prospect of a hospital is causing you anxiety.
Many health trusts are increasing the number of home births they are carrying out for mother's who may be concerned about catching the virus in hospital. You can find out more here about organising home a home birth.
Are IVF clinics open?
IVF clinics are now open. Health minister Matt Hancock said, "Now that we are past the peak, I am delighted to announce the restoration of fertility services. People who are relying on fertility treatment have been worried during these unprecedented times not knowing when they could continue their journey to start a family. We wanted to open these clinics as soon as it was safe to do so and our strict guidelines will ensure staff and patients remain safe as we continue to tackle this virus."
Sally Cheshire, spokesperson for The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said, "Our priority throughout the pandemic has been to consider how treatment could resume quickly and safely for as many patients as possible and our clear plan sets out how clinics can treat and care for patients safely during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic."
Other useful contacts
How parents are dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19)
How do we as parents cope with a lockdown and what can we do to ensure the home stays as happy and peaceful as possible in these difficult times?
Mumfluencer and Mother&Baby collumnist Louise Pentland shared some wise words in her most recent collumn in the magazine.
'Take the pressure off - nobody is expecting you to be a Super Mum. You don't have to have a gourmet meal on the hob while you home school the older children and lay out Pinterest-worthy sensory play for the baby. If you try to achieve all this you'll burn out.'
Maintain some structure
The kids are back at school, which is great for maintaining a routine for your day. So while it might be tempting to stay in your pyjamas all morning, try to wake up at your usual time, get dressed, get the family dressed and have a productive day.
If you have time, make a fun timetable for the family. It doesn't have to be strict, it can just be a list of jobs or ideas to do that day and can be a good resolution to the constant 'i'm bored' moaning you'll be hearing.
It's important to make sure the whole family is getting enough fresh air, and now we're allowed to play sports in the park and do more excercise, it's a great idea to get outside when you can.
Go for a walk each day, do a bit of gardening, wash the cars or even have a game of eye-spy outside. Any way you can get them outdoors and away from screens is a good idea!
On those days when the sun isn't shining, there are loads of online exercise videos you and your little ones could do together in the living room or open space.
Have some alone time
Whether it's your drive to work or those few hours it's just you in the house by yourself, you won't realise how much you miss (and need) this alone time with yourself before it's gone.
Try to dedicate an hour in the evening for some you time, maybe just after you've put the kids to bed for you to relax, unwind, read a book or have a bath to find your happy place.
There’s a lot going on right now...a lot to be anxious about... . The most stressful information for our mind and body system is that which is uncertain, unknown, and out of our control. With the most recent travel bans and precautions being taken all over the world, it makes sense for our “threat” alarm to go off, completely throwing us off balance and creating dysregulation in our whole system. . These suggestions are here for you as just a small reminder of the things that are within our control. I can also acknowledge the privilege in my words. It is truly a luxury in our culture to have the time to soothe, distract, and adjust our finances, especially for those who are barely making ends meet. . There will be so many of us affected by the changes that will roll out over the coming weeks. I wish I had words of wisdom to share, or answers, but there are none. Just the thought that this is a time to connect, share our human struggle, and support one another in the best way we can. . How are you keeping yourself calm during this difficult time?
Having that little yay dance inside is very important for both you and your children and while you might usually get that feeling of achievement from work and they might feel it at school, it's important to maintain having those little feelings of accomplishment.
Both you and your children can mimic these feelings at home. Whether they have a really good clear out of their bedrooms or you FINALLY clean out the oven! Try and do something each day that will give you that feeling.
How the mums on #mumtribe are coping
Alisa Adams says: "I highly recommend the calm app for a moment out if you are feeling really anxious and I sometimes do it with my children, we all lay on the floor and deep breathe listening"
Andie Langridge: "I'm really struggling to get basic medicine for my toddler because panic buyers are grabbing it all. My daughter has a nasty cold and is also teething and finding Calpol in shops has been a struggle so i'm using honey and lemon to soothe her."
Kelly MacDonald: "We are just carrying on as normal for now. My husband is a training instructor for the fire service. The building alongside his has been shut down so they are working from home but my husband is currently just still going into work until they know anything further about working from home. He’s also an on call crew manager firefighter so won’t have much choice about attending calls since it’s part of the emergency services. We have six children and I have asthma. I have sent my children to school as normal since I feel that's the safest anyway at the moment. My worry is school closing and as my husband has to go to work anyway attending vulnerable people that we are more likely to get it being isolated..."
Tiffany Fitzpatrick: "I’m worried about my two nans! Both have loads of underlying conditions and both in their 80s. My mum is her mum's carer, but even mum's 60 with health issues herself! And quite a few people look after my dad's mum, again all over 70!"
Celia Stanworth: "I’m a Church bellringer and the big national competition has just been cancelled (eliminators next weekend, final in June). However the thing that's hitting us hardest is our local groups are shutting down, as has the local mental health café. We aren’t self isolating, but we’re feeling isolated."
Emma Dart: "For now we’re carrying on as normal but being extra vigilant with hygiene...trying to make sure the kids do the same - wiping down the high chairs in our local coffee shop etc. For now our baby groups are still running and we’re starting a drop off point at the local school for supplies to distribute to the elderly and vulnerable. I do find people stock piling incredibly selfish as there are many families who can’t afford to do this and live day-to-day. A month ago people were spreading the hashtag #bekind because a celebrity had taken their own life and the sentiment seems to have been quickly forgotten by many."
Neha Lau: "Having to carry on as normal, I work for the NHS so have no choice. Worried if schools and nursery close as they are my childcare, and we have been told it would be unpaid careers leave if we have to stay at home to look after them! Plus with an 18 month old I don't think I will able to get any work done at home. Will have to work something out with the hubby. It's crazy seeing the shelves empty. I had to try several big supermarkets before I could get nappies. Feel so sorry for the people struggling to get basic medication like paracetamol or baby formula. It's crazy!
Alexandra Bufton: "I've made the decision to take my daughters out of school and nursery. My 8-year-old is asthmatic and and I have 6-month-old who was premature and born with respiratory distress syndrome and had breathing support. I’m not willing to test her lungs and immune system just yet. My husband is self employed but luckily he works alone 90% of the time and we can’t afford my daughter bringing it home and stopping him working until necessary."
If you need further advice and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) please visit the NHS website.
How to work from home while looking after children
You’ve got a house full, the youngest is crying, your toddler is bored and you and your partner have a heap of work to get on with.
Working from home can be a real challenge, especially with coronavirus forcing the whole family to stay at home for the time being.
If you can’t get a babysitter and if grandparents are worried about their own health and won’t take over, there are ways to make working from home with children work for you and your family.
Have a schedule
If you live with your partner who can also be at home, you are in an easier position to split your time fairly between working and looking after your children.
In the current coronavirus crisis, employers are aware that childcare isn’t going to be an option and that they might have to be a little more flexible when it comes to their employee’s who have children.
It might be a good idea for one of you to start working at 6am until 2pm and one to start working 11am until 7pm (as long as it is okay with your employer) with a break spent together for lunch. That way, your kids will only have to entertain themselves for a few hours in the day. You can also schedule meetings and phone calls into the time when you know you won’t be disturbed by your new little colleagues.
During this time, you can set bigger kids up with school tasks, sit them down with a film, get them to complete chores, have nap time, play-time and even arts and crafts if you’re feeling brave.
Making it work on your own
If you are on your own, try to take as many breaks throughout the day as you can to make sure your children are okay and give them your undivided attention even, if it’s just five minutes here and five minutes there. Taking some time to make sure your little ones have something to keep themselves occupied will make it easier for you to focus your mind on work when you are at your desk.
Get up earlier
It sounds obvious but the earlier you wake up before your babies the more undisturbed work time you can get in. It’s a good idea to use these undisturbed hours for those tasks that take a little more brain power and leave the easier tasks for the time when you are likely to be more distracted by your children.
Involve your children
If you have a desk space where you are working and your toddlers just won’t settle, try to involve them with your work. Set up their own workstations near you and set some simple tasks for them to complete while you’re working.
There’s no guaranteeing how long this will keep them occupied for, but pretending they’re one of your colleagues in the office will certainly keep them entertained long enough for you to catch up with emails!
Remember, these are strange and testing times for everyone so give yourself a break if everything seems a little overwhelming. If you don’t finish all the work you planned to, that’s okay.
The most important thing is that you and your family remain healthy and happy throughout this period of uncertainty and things will get better.
Our expert says: Working from home with children is challenging as they want your attention
We spoke to Angela J Spencer, author of Babyopathy who says:
- "If your children are old enough to understand your schedule, that sometimes you will be working and that they have to entertain themselves, then that’s great. If not, you may have to schedule taking turns with your partner to work or make the most of nap times!"
- "Make sure you schedule some times to do things together. This is a great opportunity to teach them gardening, cooking, painting and other crafts - you could send some masterpieces to brighten an elderly neighbour’s home for example!"
- "It is important to keep a routine for the children or they may find it difficult to focus. Although it’s easy to rely on the TV, ideally this should only be for a maximum of two hours across the whole day so maybe save it for when you need to make important phone calls!"
- "Making sure the children get enough exercise - fresh air will help to keep their sleep patterns from being disrupted and eating fresh fruit and vegetables where possible helps to boost their immune system too."
- "It’s a great opportunity for the whole family to take up mindfulness or meditation as relationships are going to be tested and being able to remain calm is going to be a welcome string to every parents bow!”
Read more about how to work from home while looking after your child
Use the hashtag #CommunityMatters and tag @motherandbaby to let us know how you're supporting your community over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
While we all do our best to get through these strange times together, it's okay if you feel like you might need some extra help and support right now and there's plenty of suport available to you in the link below.
Need to talk to someone? Here’s how to get help when you need it
Have something you want to ask that we haven’t answered here? We want to know what you’re going through, what your experience is, what your concerns are - post now in mumtribe where we, or one of our thousands of mum members, will be able to help! You are not alone! We are #onemum. We are #mumtribe.
Read more popular articles
12 fitness buys that will revolutionise your home workouts
Family living far away? Here's how to make it work as a new mum
The best parenting books mums should read in 2020