Pregnancy worries during COVID-19
Expectant mother Emily Diament at the JAMNOLA art exhibit.
Parenting, Pregnancy & Baby

Giving Birth During COVID

September 1, 2020

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (during Coronavirus)

Just days after Emily Diament announced she was pregnant and due in early-October 2020, Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a citywide “stay at home” mandate meant to slow Coronavirus spread. But confirmed cases continued to rise – and so did Diament’s concerns.  She was about to find out what it meant to be pregnant – and give birth – during the new normal of COVID-19.

Emily recalled visiting the doctor with her husband, Ramsey, by her side. 

“We remember asking her, ‘What should we be doing?’ But even the doctors couldn’t give us specifics on what we should be doing, because they just didn’t know,” Emily said. “The doctor pretty much told us, ‘Continue going about your life, make sure you wash your hands, and that kind of thing.’   

From there, Diament set up virtual appointments with her doctor. She rarely left the house. If she saw friends, it was safely from six-feet away. 

Now in her third trimester, Diament’s worry is contracting COVID-19 and going into early labor. Or worse: testing positive for the virus after checking into the hospital, and then getting separated from her baby post-delivery. 

A doctor’s advice 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) initially believed that babies should be isolated from COVID-positive mothers. But the AAP has revised their guidelines. Recent studies since have determined that the risk of the mother transmitting the virus to her little one is so minimal. 

“The risk of the newborn acquiring an infection in the hospital is very low when the mom is rooming with the baby and using infection control measures,” said Dr. Jennifer Brunet, an OBGYN with Ochsner Baptist. “What that means is that they are six feet apart. And when the mom is breastfeeding, she wears a mask and practices appropriate hand and breast hygiene.” 

In-utero transmission is possible but extremely rare, Brunet notes. 

When heading to the hospital for delivery, women should pack necessary toiletries, a phone charger, pajamas, and spare clothes (in case you must extend your stay). The hospital provides diapers, wipes, and feminine hygiene products.  

Fathers should also pack a bag, advises Brunet. “Because they are limiting the in-and-out of the hospital, the dads may not be able to go home and come back,” she said, adding that they should also wear a mask and expect to get their temperature checked when entering the hospital.  

Mothers who test positive for coronavirus will have to wear a mask. “If they are COVID-positive, the hospital personnel will wear the appropriate, personal protective equipment to protect themselves and the medical staff. But we’re taking care of these patients just the same,” said Brunet. 

Dr. Brunet emphasized that doctors are still learning about the virus. “What I’ve been telling my patients is: ‘Live your ‘new normal’ life with the appropriate measures, and you’re going to be fine.’ I don’t want them to be so anxious and stressed out, that it causes other problems with the pregnancy.” 

The final stretch 

Since Emily is expecting her first child – a girl – she doesn’t know any different than the pregnancy process she has gone through so far. 

“It’s been an interesting time, but there have been silver linings with us being forced to stay home,” she said, noting that she and her husband are both working from home at the moment. 

They’ve enjoyed morning walks together, sifted through their checklist of baby supplies, and set up the nursery, which includes a patterned wall that she’s hand-painted.  

“We feel we’re prepared in terms of having the house organized,” said Emily. “And we’ve appreciated the time to rest and recharge, rather than being on-the-go, because we know there’s always so much happening in New Orleans.” 

Suzanne Pfefferle Tafur is a native New Orleanian and frequent contributor to The Times Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, and contributor to Gambit WeeklyNew Orleans magazine, and Biz New Orleans 

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