Of all the concerns of an expectant mother, the possibility of giving birth during a global pandemic was likely not among them. But as hospitals turn into war zones, many new mothers are concerned about the risks of facing the front lines of the pandemic to give birth.
“I was anxious, period. Just having a baby,” said Alyssa Gaines-Kruchinsky, who is nearly 37 weeks pregnant. “And then you add being in the middle of a pandemic to it.”
Over 300,000 babies on average are born in the month of April in the U.S., according to UN statistics.
Fox News spoke with doctors and new mothers to find out more about being pregnant during the coronavirus pandemic and what measures hospitals are taking to protect expectant mothers and newborns.
“I think that in this entire situation, I'm pretty calm, except when it comes to thinking about obviously delivering in this environment,” said Gaines-Kruchinksy, but added she hasn’t yet considered a home birth.
Dr. Michael Nimaroff, senior vice president of ob-gyn services and executive director at Norwell Health, serving New York City, Long Island and Westchester in New York, said that those scheduled for delivery, be it C-section or induction, report to the hospital a day early where medical staff test them for COVID-19 from their car. Their results are processed before they show up to give birth the next day.
Nimaroff said in communities like Queens and Eastern Long Island, the health care system was seeing a “very significant number” of patients who are testing positive. He said that once the health care system instituted universal screening, it realized how common asymptomatic patients were: Over 30 percent of those who tested positive for the virus exhibited no symptoms.
Nimaroff said that pregnant women still feel the effects of the virus “similar to the rest of the community,” wherein most patients suffer mild to no symptoms, but added that some patients, particularly those in their third trimester, have felt severe effects of COVID-19. He said that there is no evidence to show that coronavirus could be contracted by newborns from mother during the birthing process,and his hospital system is not seeing a lot of babies test positive. But, he said newborns could contract the virus “like anyone else,” in close postpartum contact with another COVID-19 positive individual.
Additionally, Nimaroff said his hospital system cut hospital stays to 24 hours for those who give birth vaginally and two days for those who give birth by C-section.
Nimaroff said his hospital supported New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to mandate New York hospitals allow a “support person” to be present during delivery, a major concern for mothers expecting to deliver during the pandemic. Gaines-Kruchinksy said this definitely alleviated part of her concerns, and said a petition was circulating to allow the support person to stay after delivery. Many hospitals are asking the birth support person to leave two hours after delivery, she said.
Alba Umana’s son tested positive for Covid-19 at just three weeks old. “I never thought COVID. I never in a million years thought it,” Umana said of when she noticed her son had a fever.
“When I got the results from it in the hospital, I really felt the floor shake beneath me because it’s my job is to protect him at all cost. And I thought that I had failed him,” Umana said.
“I thought my child's going to die. I'm seeing death all around me and I thought it was my fault. I thought that it really was my fault that he had gotten the virus,” the new mother continued. Her son, now six weeks old, is home and healthy. Umana never showed any symptoms of the virus, but she said her husband did.
She said she noticed something was wrong with her baby when he stopped feeding and slept more than usual. She took his temperature and it was 100.4 degrees. Being that he was under 20 days old, she knew she needed to take him to the hospital. Once he tested positive, he was given an I.V. solution. Umana said once her son was hydrated again he started to look better, and two days later he was dispatched from the hospital.