New and Expecting Parents: COVID-19 FAQs

Are prenatal and postnatal supports not considered an essential service? 

  • Supports for new moms and babies is an essential service. However, services are being provided differently now during COVID-19. We recognize in-person care is preferred, but to protect the health and safety of babies and mothers it was necessary to change the model of service. 
  • Some services that used to take place in person may now be provided by telephone or through videoconferencing.
  • In terms of prenatal services in PEI, prenatal care is carried out by obstetricians, family physicians, and or nurse practitioners. Public Health Nursing offers prenatal education to families. Community Nutrition offers nutritional assessment and counseling. Prior to COVID-19, Public Health Nursing was actively exploring options to provide prenatal education through on-line, web-based programs that are being used in parts of Canada. This type of program was not meant to replace in-person prenatal classes but to provide other options for families. We continue to work on this opportunity given the current situation which would allow us to provide some prenatal education support to families while we have had to place our in-person classes on hold.
  • In terms of postnatal supports, families should be connected to a family physician or nurse practitioner upon discharge from hospital. Family physicians and nurse practitioners schedule follow-up appointments with families at different intervals. Public Health Nursing offers newborn/postpartum follow-up and contacts families within a few days after discharge from hospital. Normally, this follow-up would occur through home-visiting. We have adjusted this program but continue to offer this support in alternate ways.

What happens after I leave the hospital? Do I still get to see a Public Health Nurse after I leave the hospital?

  • All new mothers and families continue to be contacted by a public health nurse within 24-48 hrs of discharge from hospital. 
  • The Public Health Nurse will complete an assessment over the telephone or through videoconferencing based on the family's preference.
  • The nurse will ask questions to help determine how things are going after you are discharged from hospital.  
  • As part of this assessment, if the nurse identifies concerns, arrangements can be made for a visit at the Public Health Nursing office.
  • Families will be offered the opportunity to have their child weighed/measured in addition to the telephone or videoconference assessment. This growth monitoring will be completed by appointment at the Public Health Nursing office by a Community Dietitian or Public Health Nurse.
  • Information packages will also be mailed to you by the public health nursing office.
  • Parents can speak with a public health nurse by calling their local Public Health Nursing office if concerns/questions arise:
    • Souris 902-687-7049
    • Montague 902-838-0762
    • Charlottetown 902-368-4532
    • Summerside 902-888-8160
    • Wellington 902-854-7259
    • O’Leary 902-859-8720
  • Families continue to be seen by Public Health Nursing for immunizations as per the PEI Immunization schedule (2, 4, 6, 12, 18 months and 4 years of age).  
  • Public Health Nursing is continuously looking at ways to offer services during this time. At this time, we have been able to re-instate the following services:  
    • Developmental and Nutritional screening for children 18 months and 4 years of age. Packages will be mailed out to families that include the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and NutriSTEP questionnaire (screen for nutrition risk). These tools can be completed and returned to Public Health Nursing office, a nurse and/or community dietitian will review and call parents to discuss the information provided.  
    • Public Health Nurses are completing their full assessment at 2 months of age. This appointment may include but not limited to growth monitoring, postpartum depression screening for new mothers, vision/hearing screening, information about various health topics and immunization.  
    • Families will be offered the opportunity to have their child weighed/measured at specific ages while attending their immunization appointment. This growth monitoring will be completed by a Community Dietitian or Public Health Nurse.
    • Screening for the Best Start Program has been reintroduced. 
Many resources are available at Public Health Nursing.

I’ve heard that there’s no tracking of my baby’s height and weight any longer by public health nurses. If this is true, what should I do? 

  • Public Health Nursing is currently not doing home visits but is conducting health assessments that would normally be done in the home with families via telephone or videoconference. Families will be offered the opportunity to have their child weighed/measured in addition to the telephone or videoconference assessment. This growth monitoring will be completed by appointment at the Public Health Nursing office by a Community Dietitian or Public Health Nurse. 
  • There are other pieces of information that the nurse will ask about that provides detail about how your baby is doing. This may include but not be limited to things such as the amount or frequency of feedings, how your baby responds to feedings, other behaviours you may notice with your baby, and how you are managing with a new baby in your home. 
  • The nurse will use the information you provide during these conversations to offer additional information or support as needed. 
  • However, if the nurse identifies during her telephone assessment that there are concerns, or identifies risk factors that need to be assessed in-person, arrangements are made for a visit at the Public Health Nursing office.   
  • Public Health Nursing is able to offer weight/measurements at specific ages when attending immunization appointments. This growth monitoring is offered through a partnership with Community Dietitians. If you have questions or concerns about your child's growth, contact your local Public Health Nursing office.

What do I do if my baby is having challenges? Is there support available?

  • Public Health Nurses can help answer your questions – they are available to connect with families via telephone. The option for a videoconferencing appointment has also recently become available. If concerns are identified through these interactions, arrangements can be made for a visit at the Public Health Nursing office.
  • For questions on healthy eating for mothers or children, you can speak to a registered dietitian by calling our toll free number at 1-844-887-0320 or by emailing publichealthnutrition@gov.pe.ca
  • If you or your baby doesn’t have a family physician or nurse practitioner and you have concerns or questions, you can speak with a Public Health Nurse by calling your local Public Health Nursing office: 
    • Souris 902-687-7049
    • Montague 902-838-0762
    • Charlottetown 902-368-4532
    • Summerside 902-888-8160
    • Wellington 902-854-7259
    • O’Leary 902-859-8720

I’ve heard that public health appointments are just immunizations and there’s no opportunity to ask questions. Where can I go for support?

  • Families continue to be seen by Public Health Nursing for immunizations as per the PEI Immunization schedule (2, 4, 6, 12, 18 months and 4 years of age). Appointment times have been adjusted at this time to accommodate everyone requiring immunizations, while ensuring physical distancing in our waiting spaces as well as to enable a shift of some of our staff resources to respond to COVID-19 responsibilities.
  • We would still encourage families to ask questions and we will do our best to provide information and answer questions or discuss concerns in the given appointment time or offer to connect with families at an alternate time that is convenient for the family.
  • Parents can also speak with a public health nurse by calling their local public health nursing office if concerns/questions arise.
    • Souris 902-687-7049
    • Montague 902-838-0762
    • Charlottetown 902-368-4532
    • Summerside 902-888-8160
    • Wellington 902-854-7259
    • O’Leary 902-859-8720
  • For questions on healthy eating for mothers or children, you can speak to a registered dietitian by calling our toll free number at 1-844-887-0320 or by emailing publichealthnutrition@gov.pe.ca
Many resources are available at Public Health Nursing.

I’ve been having challenges with breastfeeding. How can supports effectively be provided through telephone or videoconferencing? 

  • Lactation consultants are available to assist parents when challenges present with breastfeeding.  They may connect with families via telephone or videoconferencing when necessary. 
  • Lactation consultants will ask questions about your situation and the challenges you are facing. This assists them when providing information and suggestions to you. They may also provide information or materials electronically that you may find helpful.
  • If concerns are identified through these interactions, arrangements can be made by the Lactation consultant for a visit at the Public Health Nursing office. 

Are there still supports available through the Community Nutrition Program? 

  • Services are currently being provided by phone and through videoconferencing. In-home visiting and in-office appointments are not happening yet.
  • Nutrition assessment and counselling is available to help promote a healthy pregnancy. This is done over the phone and will soon be offered by video conference. 
  • Nutrition assessment and counselling as well as advice on healthy eating for new mothers and guidance on infant feeding is also available over the phone and will soon be offered through video conference. 
  • The Milk Ticket Program is available for some pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers up to 6 months post-partum who experience financial challenges. This program provides 1 litre of milk per day for the duration of the program to eligible pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Parents can speak to a registered dietitian or can self-refer by calling our toll free number at 1-844-887-0320 or by emailing publichealthnutrition@gov.pe.ca
There are also many resources available at Public Health & Family Nutrition Program.

I was really looking forward to connecting with other moms but all of the classes have been cancelled because of COVID. Is there any way to connect with others during this time? 

  • Public Health Nursing is currently not offering group prenatal classes. This is due to limitations for physical distancing and gathering in numbers, as well as the need to shift some of our staff resources to respond to COVID-19 responsibilities. 
  • Public Health Nursing has been actively exploring options to provide prenatal education through on-line, web-based programs that are being used in parts of Canada. This type of program is not meant to replace in-person prenatal classes but to provide other options for families. We continue to work on this opportunity given the current situation which would allow us to provide some prenatal education support to families while we have had to place our in-person classes on hold.
  • If you are looking for information about your pregnancy, we may be able to answer your questions on the telephone or be able to provide information in written materials or electronically. You can speak to a public health nurse by contacting your local public health office. 
  • Some Family Resource Centres may be offering group sessions through videoconference – check with your local family resource centre to see what services may be offered.
For a list of centres in PEI, visit Family Resource Centres.

If I get infected with COVID, can I pass it along to my baby? 

  • COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it affects pregnant women. Currently, there is no evidence that suggests pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 or if acquired, that they would have a more serious illness. 
  • There is also not enough evidence at this time to confirm that a mother can pass COVID-19 to her child during pregnancy.
  • There is currently not enough evidence to indicate that a mother can pass COVID-19 to her child during childbirth. 
  • Once a baby is born, they can get COVID-19 from other people, so it is important to put in place measures to prevent the spread of the infection. 

Is my partner able to come with me to the delivery room? 

  • When you are in labour, you may have two support people with you. We understand the importance of having loved ones with you at this time.  
This situation continues to be assessed daily; continue to monitor the situation at: Health PEI eases visitor restrictions, allowing visitors in all facilities

Is there someone I can contact if I have concerns about my own health while I am taking care of my family?

With all of this stress and fear about COVID-19, I’m afraid I’m not properly bonding with my baby. This is my first baby, so I don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t.  Is there anyone to talk to?

  • Pregnancy and life with a new baby may not always be what you expect. Pregnancy, the birth of a baby, or an adoption brings physical, emotional and social changes. Adjustments to the new roles and relationships are not always easy. It can be a time of emotional change and transition for new parents, their partners and families. 
  • There is help for you and your family:

Are there any plans in place to go back to in-person care?

  • Health and safety is our utmost priority. Some services that used to take place in person may now be provided by telephone or through videoconferencing. 
  • We continue to review the services we are able to provide at this time and planning for services that we can potentially offer in the future.  
     
Published date: 
July 24, 2020
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