Many COVID-19 positive pregnant women experience mild symptoms of cold or flu. However, pregnant women who are older, overweight, or have pre-existing medical conditions like hypertension and diabetes seem to develop severe diseases.
The primary reason considered for the transmission of SARS-COV-2 to neonates is through respiratory droplets during the postnatal period when they are exposed to their mothers or caregivers with COVID infection, according to Dr. Sakshi Goel Chakraborty, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology, Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Delhi.
There is no conclusive evidence to prove that the virus could be transferred from a COVID-19 positive mother to her fetus or baby after the delivery. Dr. Goel further added: “For babies born to women with COVID 19, the overall outcomes are positive. According to a study, only 2-5 percent of infants get infected through COVID-19 positive mothers.”
According to Dr. Sakshi Goel Chakraborty, “COVID-19 positive mothers should be taught to practice skin-to-skin/kangaroo mother care with good respiratory hygiene. This helps to establish exclusive breastfeeding and helps the baby to develop faster and healthier. Mothers should take care of their personal hygiene as well, like washing hands before touching the baby. All the surfaces touched by the mother should be cleaned. Also, one should always wear a medical mask, while physically contacting with the baby.”
Though the virus has not been detected in the breast milk of COVID-positive mothers and there is no evidence of the virus transmitting through it, therefore, there is a lower risk of babies getting infected with the virus.
The best way to keep the baby safe in the ongoing pandemic is to practice social distancing as it will limit the risk of infection to newborns. Babies should only live with family members who are asymptomatic. If any family member has symptoms or is suspected of COVID then he or she should be isolated from the baby. Only take the baby out in the case of major need like check-ups as it will help in preventing the infection to a large extent.
Said Dr. Sakshi Goel Chakraborty, “As per the latest guidelines issued by WHO, a COVID positive mother should do the following things: Hands should be cleaned using soap and water especially before and after touching the baby. All the surfaces which have been touched by the mother should be cleaned using a sanitizer at regular intervals. A mother who has been coughing and must breastfeed should clean her chest with soap and water. There is no need to clean it every time before feeding but at regular intervals.”