The global COVID-19 pandemic has been causing unprecedented strains on global health and health care systems since the first case of SARS-CoV-2 occurred. Healthcare systems have been brought to the brink or, in a few cases, even collapsed altogether for some periods of time.

Maternal and newborn health services were also disrupted and the economic downturn, another effect of the pandemic, has made it difficult for families to access those services that are still available.

What is more, in an attempt to protect their staff as well as patients, many hospitals adopted rigorous visitation policies, severely limiting the number of people who could enter the hospital to visit a loved one as well as the time they were allowed to stay.

For parents of preterm babies, these measures have meant that they were often only allowed to see their child for short periods of time or, in some instances, were even barred from seeing their baby at all. This practice of separating parents from their preterm babies to protect everyone from a potential infection with COVID-19 has wrought a lot of despair and pain – and caused actual physical and psychological harm.

To help parents as well as healthcare professionals navigate this complex situation, we have compiled an extensive FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

In order to support parents whose babies have to be in the hospital, we have launched our global “Zero Separation” campaign, promoting that parents can be with their children at all times while complying with the health and safety measures put in place.

Moreover, we conducted a survey to analyse in a systematic manner how the pandemic affects parents and newborns. This research project is a truly international endeavour thanks to the efforts of our global network which worked to make materials available in many different languages and encouraged parents all over the world to participate to make their voices heard. A preliminary analysis of the data already unearthed a trove of insights and information – so we will announce new projects soon!