All of us are struggling right now through this pandemic. We have constant worries and stress about the economy, our health, our family, or isolation, and mental health. But our expecting couples have a whole different level of stress right now. Women are being limited on prenatal visits, and when they can go, partners are not allowed. Women have to choose between having their partner or their doula, no family or friends are allowed at the birth or to even come to visit after the birth. And the biggest stresser is the virus itself, the never ending thoughts “will I catch this virus, or will I spread it to my baby” along with “are they going to take my baby away if I have a cough or develop a fever during labor or postpartum”. Couples are missing many exciting moments they had planned, such as gender reveals, baby showers, or even partners being allowed at ultrasounds. Then when women arrive in labor and delivery in many hospitals they don’t get to see the faces of the caregivers who are caring for them through the mask, goggles and other personal protective equipment, and staff may limit the time in the room in fear of running out of personal protective equipment.
As a mother, I can’t imagine going through all of this during what is supposed to be one of the most joyous times in my life. And as a previous labor and delivery nurse now working in the ER, I can’t imagine trying to care for a laboring mother with all the added stress.
This virus is so new that it is hard to know all the risks and precautions and so much more. One day to the next things change based on new research. I wanted to write this blog to help give couples and mamas a little peace of mind with some recent research and resources.
Recently in New York, a case study was performed on 43 pregnant women who tested positive with Covid 19 (Breslin et al. 2020) In this study, many of the women were asymptomatic (14 of 43 women) leading authors to recommend all pregnant women being admitted to the labor unit be tested. Of the women, without symptoms, 10.14 developed symptoms during their admission or shortly after discharge.
Pregnant women showed symptom patterns similar in severity to non-pregnant adults, but the sample size was too small to make direct comparisons.
Another big concern has been whether babies will be separated from mom if she is showing symptoms or is positive for Covid 19. Recently CDC reported that separation should be “on a case-by-case basis, using shared decision-making between the mother and clinical team.” Previously CDC stated, “to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19 from the mother to the newborn, facilities should consider temporarily separating the mother who has confirmed Covid-19 or is PUI from her baby until mother’s transmission-based precautions are discontinued.” CDC did mention the importance and benefits of mother/infant skin to skin contact. Stating, “even though SARS-CoV-2 after birth via contact with infectious respiratory secretions is a concern, the risk of transmission and the clinical severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in infants is not clear.”
I get most of my information from Evidence Based Birth website, Rebecca Dekker and the team at EBB are constantly updating their site with new information. They have also provided a form for couples. Here is a direct link to EBB Covid-19 page to stay up to date, and Q&A. https://evidencebasedbirth.com/covid19/
For couples that aren’t due for a couple more months or were maybe planning to conceive at this time can check out this site for Covid-19 projections. https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america
I pray for the world and especially for anyone going through this while expecting their bundle of joy. Hang in there, cherish the things this pandemic can’t take away from, like feeling movements, picking names, and read up on some good birthing books.
If you had a childbirth class that was canceled, Evidence Based Birth offers a virtual childbirth class, you can search for available classed and instructors in your state. If you are in Missouri I will schedule one especially for you at a discounted rate during this pandemic.