Talking through the most asked questions by parents surrounding giving birth during COVID-19

Andrea Ippolito
June 15, 2020

It is an insane time to be a new parent. You deserve a parade in your name. To help you navigate what is happening, we wanted to summarize the current state of information and recommendations from experts.

Breastfeeding during COVID-19

According to the CDC, breast milk is still the best source of nutrition for most infants.

Specifically, the following is stated on the CDC’s website:

Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. We do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk, but the limited data available suggest this is not likely. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 should be counseled to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including handwashing and wearing a cloth face covering.

You should discuss with your healthcare provider in case there are specific situations relevant to you.

In addition, the World Health Organization has stated that “Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date. There is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding.” If you are able to breastfeed, WHO recommends breastfeeding even in places where COVID-19 is particularly prevalent.

Pregnancy During COVID-19

Compared to other women with similar risk factors, age or conditions, pregnant women do not appear to be more susceptible to COVID-19.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) further underlines this with the following statement “Historically, respiratory infections in pregnant individuals have been thought to increase their risk for severe morbidity and mortality. With regard to COVID-19, the limited data currently available do not indicate that pregnant individuals are at an increased risk of infection or severe morbidity (eg, need for ICU admission or mortality) compared with nonpregnant individuals in the general population…To date, there is no conclusive evidence of vertical transmission of COVID-19.”

This review article here does a nice job summarizing the current state.

Separating Baby in the Hospital from Mom During COVID-19

Even during COVID-19, WHO continues to recommend that mom stays with the baby after birth to help support skin-to-skin contact, which helps with temperature control and helps support breastfeeding.

Specifically, WHO has stated “Yes. Immediate and continued skin-to-skin care, including kangaroo mother care, improves the temperature control of newborns and is associated with improved survival among newborn babies. Placing the newborn close to the mother also enables early initiation of breastfeeding which also reduces mortality. The numerous benefits of skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of transmission and illness associated with COVID-19.”

Please advocate for yourself to remain with your baby in the hospital setting.

However, if you have been diagnosed or are showing signs of COVID-19, work with your healthcare providers and follow American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations.

Risk for Children During COVID-19

Overall, infants and children through younger teens are less at risk compared to older adults. However, there is a small number of cases of an inflammatory syndrome called MIS-C, which physicians and public health officials are continuing to track.

Check out this article here if you want to dive into the details.

Psychological Impact on New Parents During COVID-19

The psychological impact of COVID-19 on new parents, especially new moms is real. If you are scared, you are not alone. Make sure to reach out to your clinical team to get the support you need. Partners! This is where you come in. Make sure mom is getting the support she needs and BE HER ADVOCATE. According to this review article, specific stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma.