Advice

Ask Ada: How Do I Protect My Newborn Baby From COVID?

Plus: what to deal when coronavirus has made you your roommate's caregiver.

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Welcome to Ask Ada, Folks’ bi-weekly advice column for people impacted by health issues or disability. Want Ada to help you with a problem? Email Ada at askada@pillpack.com or tag @folksstories on Twitter with the #askada hashtag.


How Do I Protect Myself And My Baby From COVID?

Dear Ada, 

I’m 30 weeks pregnant, and I already have a high risk pregnancy. Because of that I need frequent monitoring by specialists, and I must go to my local hospital for that every other week at this point, but it’s going to be every single week shortly. I’m terrified of getting COVID-19 at one of these appointments and passing it on to my baby, or being separated for a prolonged period from my baby after the birth.

Should I skip my upcoming appointments? If not, how can I make sure I’m safe before (and after!) delivery?

Whatever you do, don’t skip your upcoming appointments. It’s vital that you follow your doctor’s treatment plan, especially if your pregnancy is high risk. The appointments are necessary to keep you and baby safe, and they wouldn’t schedule you for anything that wasn’t needed to care for your pregnancy.

But while the appointments might be important, your fears about going to them are justified. There are so many unknowns in a healthy pregnancy, nevermind a high-risk one, and adding in a pandemic to the mix makes things downright frightening.

Talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask them if there is anything you can do to limit your exposure. For example, does your hospital have a portal that allows you to check in for your appointment before you arrive? Are there different entrances you can use to limit the amount of time you’re in the hospital?

After the baby is born, social distancing is the best way to protect yourself and your family.

You can also create a sanitation plan for your trips to the hospital. Wear a mask, use gloves or a paper towel to touch surfaces (like elevator buttons) and open doors. Wash your hands as much as possible, whether by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or good ol’ soap and water. (And whatever you do, try to avoid touching your face while out!)

You’re going to want to strip your shoes and clothing as soon as you get home, then shower and change into completely new clothing. Wash your mask (if it’s cloth) and clothing right away and use disinfectant on your shoes. 

As for what you can do now and after the baby is born, social distancing is the best way to protect yourself and your family. That means, besides your appointments, you (and a partner if you have one) should stay home and don’t allow anyone who doesn’t live in your home to visit. This will be even more important once the baby is born. Of course, you’re going to want your family and friends to meet your baby, but the best way to allow that to happen is through video chat at this time.

Focused young asian girl roommates checking analyzing utilities bills sitting together at kitchen wooden table. serious women reading bank loan documents financial planning expenses using laptop.

Losing Patience In Self-Quarantine With My Chronically Ill Roommate

Dear Ada,

I’m about ready to lose it with my roommate. We’re friends who moved in together about two years ago, and we haven’t had any problems at all with our combined friendship and living arrangement before. 

However, this pandemic forcing us to be together 24-hours a day is pushing me over the edge. She has a compromised immune system and anxiety to boot, and for whatever reason, she turned me from a roommate and into a caregiver in her mind. Never before this did she ever ask for my help with anything, but now, she won’t leave the house and she acts like I’m responsible for her. She leaves me shopping lists, (some with total non-necessity stuff!), gets upset with me when I work from the common area, (because she wants to lounge and watch tv), and sometimes even comes to me crying asking if I’ll take care of her if she gets sick.

I know I sound cold-hearted, but I didn’t sign up for this. I’m worried about my own health. I don’t want to do my shopping, nevermind hers! And no, I don’t want to take care of her if she’s sick. We’re not in a relationship, and she isn’t family. I don’t know how to proceed because it’s not as if I can even leave my house. How can I change my situation so that I can get some freedom from her?

The reality is you’re stuck at home. You’re stuck with your roommate. You can choose to make the best of it or suffer through the worst of it.

Your first step is having a heart-to-heart conversation with your roommate so she understands the stress you’re under. It might be uncomfortable, but this is an opportunity for you to learn how to set boundaries and respect your limitations as well. Share your concerns and work with her to find solutions so you both feel comfortable in your home.

It sounds as if you’re absorbing the brunt of the stress (and responsibilities) right now. After your talk, the first thing to do to remove some of the burden you feel is to adopt a few solutions that will ease both of your lives. First, you should both discuss your must-haves for surviving the social distancing. For you, that might mean four hours to work from the community spaces every day. Her priority might be a set time to watch her favorite television show. Negotiate needs until you’re both able to get what you want.

Another example is hiring a food delivery service so you and your roommate can both stay home. Once you’re able to offload some of the caretaking duties, you may be able to stop viewing your roommate as a responsibility and see her as a friend again.

Once you’re able to offload some of the caretaking duties, you may be able to stop viewing your roommate as a responsibility and see her as a friend again.

At this point, you and your roommate are stuck together. So why not try to bring some more fun into your home. Schedule a movie night, break out the boardgames, start a new hobby together. 

You may also want to consider seeking help and friendship out of the confines of your home. Call or video chat with family and friends. Write them letters. Heck, drive by their homes and beep if you have to. Life seems small right now with so few people in it, allow others in.

When I first read your question I wondered if maybe your anger was actually misplaced anxiety. 

If you or your roommate is still struggling, you may want to consider tele-counseling. There are many apps and programs available to help you both work through your feelings. 


Are you facing a problem that is being complicated by a health condition or disability? Folks’ advice columnist Erin Ollila wants to help. Email askada@pillpack.com and tell us your problem.

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