SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that expectant mothers with confirmed or potential COVID-19 should consider being separated from their newborns after birth for up to a week.
Elaina Wickman, who is 16 weeks pregnant with her second child, said being pregnant during the pandemic has been stressful, and now the thought of having to be separated from her baby is one more added concern.
“I think the big things are the unknowns, people don’t really know how it affects the fetus so I think that’s the most stressful about being pregnant,” Wickman said.
Becky Rodriguez, who is expecting her first child, is almost 35 weeks pregnant. Her excitement has been mixed with fear of catching COVID-19.
“I mean it’s definitely scary,” Rodriguez said. “It is in the back of my mind that that could happen; I think also the fact that there is the possibility of not having your partner in the room is also basically a scary thought too.”
The CDC has said that it’s unknown whether newborns with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe complications, but it has recommended that if a mother tests positive for the virus or is suspected of having it, that healthcare workers should consider temporarily separating mother and baby until mom shows no symptoms. That means a separation of 72 hours to one week, and in some cases, even longer.
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If that’s not possible or the mother wishes not to be separated, facilities should consider using barriers to keep the newborn at least six feet away from mom, the CDC recommended.
It’s important to note that the CDC said that a mother should be involved in the decision-making.
“I would hope that I would be able to just get tested and that way it would be definitive whether or not I’d be able to care for my baby,” Rodriguez said.
If a mother does wish to room with their child, the CDC recommends that mothers can pump or use a mask when breastfeeding.
However, nonprofit La Leche League USA told USA Today that separation at birth could have long lasting effects on both baby and mother.
“Of course, if it’s life or death, you’re going to make the right decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” Wickman said. “I think any mother would agree you’re going to do what’s in the best interest of your child.”