Giving birth in the middle of a pandemic adds more stress to new parents. Firstly, because, by attending check-ups and consultations, mothers may have a higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
For example, Laura Gómez Arizmendi’s contractions began on the night of April 17, and she was transferred to the hospital to deliver her first baby. At the hospital, they took her to an area to be tested for coronavirus and she received oxygen because she was short of breath and had a sore throat upon arrival.
After five hours of labor, Bárbara Montoya Gómez was born. Laura could only see her from a distance. Then, they took her away.
A baby with Covid-19
Laura, 30, was transferred to a floor for Covid-19 patients, after being told her test had come back positive. She says that she took strength from those five minutes with her baby; she also did not have to use a ventilator like the other patients. A week later, she was able to hold Bárbara for the first time.
“The experience was overwhelming. It’s my first baby, and I felt even more distressed after the diagnosis came through. I was very scared that I wouldn’t be able to see her again. Right now, we’re taking lots of precautions at home and her grandparents and aunts and uncles haven’t been able to visit her. All contact has been through video calls,” she says in an interview with Tec Review.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recognize that the ideal environment for the care of a healthy newborn during hospitalization after delivery is in the same room as the mother.
According to the PAHO, the risk of a newborn contracting Covid-19 from its mother is low, especially if she takes the recommended steps before and during the baby’s care. However, if she is positive for the virus that causes Covid-19, it is important that the baby does not stay in the same room.
“Quarantennials have the peculiarity of having been born during compulsory isolation, in the midst of strict security protocols, and without being able to receive visits from many relatives. As such, they will primarily receive affection and caresses from their parents, due to the fear of contagion, or having to separate from the child if a parent gets sick,” said obstetrician-gynecologist Miguel Ángel Gallego in an interview.
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Protective measures for parents
According to the specialist, a series of protective measures must be put in place on returning home when in contact with the newborn so to be able to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before holding or approaching the baby. Disinfectants containing at least 60% alcohol can also be used.
It’s a good idea to wear a face mask or visor when around the child.
Avoid having visitors to your home, so as not to increase the risk.
The primary caregiver should avoid going out and having contact with other people.
Don’t put a face mask on the baby, as this could cause accidental strangulation or suffocation.
Covid-19 and breastfeeding
According to Laura Gómez, her gynecologist assured her that there is no evidence that breast milk is able to transmit the virus to babies.
“The doctor told me that, after the results came back negative in the following tests, I should breastfeed Barbara so as to protect her against many diseases and because breast milk is a good source of nutrition. I did it with a mask on, but it still scared me”, she shared.
Another option is to express the milk, following special cleaning recommendations for the pump, and then clean and disinfect all parts that come into contact with the breast milk.