COVID-19 does not seem to be spread from the pregnant mother to the baby through the placenta. The transmission occurs through droplets of infected bodily fluids the infants inhale after delivery from the mother or other people or surfaces they come into contact with at the hospital. However, the hospital and the mother can take steps to limit the risk of transmission to the newborn.
Before the Baby Is Born
Pregnant women with COVID-19 or suspicious symptoms should consider the following recommendations from the CDC:
These mothers should let the obstetric unit of the hospital know about their COVID-19 status well in advance of arrival. This gives the hospital the ability to select the ideal space for delivery, stock the necessary supplies, and ensure staff is trained and prepared for the additional precautions required to prevent transmission from the mother to the baby.
The hospital should be conducting additional health screening of anyone who might be close to the newborn.
The hospital should be restricting any visitors or staff with fever or other high-risk symptoms, and visitors should be limited to one person for the mother’s health and support and having that support person be the same individual throughout the mother’s time at the hospital.
The hospital should prioritize these mothers for COVID-19 testing. Mothers and their families might have to advocate for themselves because testing decisions are left to the doctor or the facility.
After the Baby Is Born
If the mother tests positive or is likely positive for COVID-19, the CDC recommends separating the infant temporarily from the mother, especially if the baby is premature or has a health condition. Babies could conceivably become infected from other babies in the neonatal area, so any newborns who are suspected of having the virus should be separated from other infants. The CDC has also provided a Guidance on Care for Breastfeeding Women.
Doctors and healthcare professionals who are caring for mothers and their children during pregnancy, delivery, and neonatal care need to be carefully monitoring the health of the mother and the child. Some of the symptoms for COVID-19 in infants are more obvious red flags (e.g., fever, cough, vomiting), while other symptoms could be easy to overlook (e.g., runny nose, feeding issues, lethargy).
If you suspect your loved one might have experienced hospital negligence, you should consult a law firm with a proven track record of protecting patients’ rights against large hospitals and insurance companies.