Coronavirus

How one mom raised a newborn while infected with COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Stephanie Bergmann brought her first child Evalynn into the world, in May, as it was swept up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During labor, she, like other new parents at UnityPoint Health – Meriter, had to get tested for the virus.

“They waited in between contractions,” Bergmann said, with a laugh.

The test came out to be negative, but two months later, she wasn’t so lucky.

After getting positive test results, she described immediately going into isolation. “My husband would bring her to the door so that I could see her. For that first week, I was really nervous to nurse her just because that was when I was most likely contagious.”

She continued, “I nursed her once a day for the nighttime feeds, with my mask, washing my hands really well, looking away while I was nursing her.”

Dr. Elizabeth Goetz, who works at Meriter Hospital’s newborn nursery, said that breast milk contains antibodies against the virus, providing “a ton of protection.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “much is still unknown about the risks of COVID-19 to newborns.” The website writes that newborns can contract the virus after being in close contact with someone who is already infected. The CDC also states: some babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth, though it’s unclear whether they got the virus before, during or after birth.

Goetz explained, if moms are too sick to take care of their babies, they should pump breast milk and have another caregiver help with feeding. Another option is to go to the hospital for breastfeeding.

Parents can also feel impacts of COVID-19 without contracting the virus. According to UW Health, they’re feeling more isolation, anxiety and depression as public health experts continue to urge social and physical distancing.

UW Health offers a free, virtual support group called Mother Baby Hour. To join, new parents can email msn-womenshealth@unitypoint.org or call 608-417-8446.

Bergmann joined the group once she was diagnosed with COVID-19. “It was such a great community and support there,” she said. “A lot of the times we didn’t even talk about COVID. A lot of times we just talked about the normal sleeping, eating schedules.”

Goetz added, “I think that’s so important, especially for women going home with their first babies, to connect and find ways to reach out. It’s irreplaceable.”

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