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The COVID Factor

The COVID Factor

What happens if you or your baby test positive?

You have spent nine months planning and preparing for the arrival of your bundle of joy. You have worked through the details of who will be in the room. Decided whether or not you want to use pain relief. Packed your bags with the essentials. Your list of prep goes on and on.

But one thing you cannot control is COVID-19. Sure, you can minimize your risk of contracting the virus by:

  • Getting vaccinated
  • Wearing a mask
  • Practicing proper hand hygiene
  • Minimizing your contact with others
  • Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the recommendations of your medical provider, including keeping up with prenatal and postpartum appointments.

But, the reality is, you, or your newborn, may contract COVID-19. So, let’s address what happens next.

I’m about to delivery my baby and I’m positive for COVID-19—what should I do?

First things first, don’t panic!

Contact your medical provider for recommendations and to discuss any potential impact to your birth plan. Keep in mind that, in most cases, testing positive will not impact your method of delivery.

If you test positive, the hospital or birthing center may require you to wear a mask, which could prove difficult when pushing during labor. Also, be prepared for your medical team to be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a mask, goggles and/or face shield.

Depending on hospital policy and how sick you are, you and your bay may or may not be separated after birth. Again, talk with your medical provider about your options, especially if you plan to breastfeed.

I tested positive—how can I protect my baby?

Time with your newborn helps create and strengthen your bond—and testing positive for COVID-19 shouldn’t put a damper on this exciting time. If you test positive for COVID-19, here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of passing the infection to your baby:

  • Wear a mask, including during feedings—do not put a mask or other face covering on your baby
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before picking up or holding your baby
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anything that will be in contact with your baby, including bottle parts, breast pump parts or pacifiers
  • Ask for assistance from healthy helpers—they can help with bottle feedings (you can even pump breastmilk for bottles), but, remember, even healthy helpers should wear a mask and wash their hands
  • When rooming-in together, keep your baby at least six feet away from you (in the safety of a bassinet or crib) as much as possible

My baby tested positive for COVID-19—now what?

First, don’t blame yourself. Research still has not confirmed if babies can get the COVID-19 virus before, during or after birth. However, if testing is available, take advantage of it, particularly if you are sick yourself.

If your baby does test positive, expect testing to continue until two consecutive negative tests are achieved. Visitation while in the hospital from family and friends also may be limited to protect your baby and others.

Most newborns who test positive experience mild or no symptoms and recover well—there are still some who may develop more severe symptoms. Either way, plan to follow-up with your baby’s pediatrician within 14 days to ensure he or she is healthy and free of the virus. But remember, when in doubt, make the call! You are a new parent and your medical provider and/or pediatrician will be there to help you.

If your baby starts to develop symptoms of COVID-19 (or any other illnesses) after being discharged from the hospital, contact your medical provider and/or pediatrician. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever (*Tip: a temperature of 100.4 or higher in a newborn is considered an emergency!)
  • Lethargy (overly tired/not active)
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor eating/feeding
  • Shallow breath (or having a hard time breathing)

Welcoming a newborn is an exciting and joyous time that should not be overshadowed by COVID-19. With a few precautions, parents-to-be can minimize the risk of spread—without impacting your bonding time with baby.

At Southwest General’s new Level II Cosgrove Maternity Center, our team of experts is ready to provide you and your newborn with a higher level of care. To learn more, visit our website.