“There’s just no good evidence that we should be separating these moms and babies,” Eglash added.
Kehl agrees. “When you consider the effects on maternal–infant bonding and how important evidence-based practices, like performing skin-to-skin and early breastfeeding initiation [are], in most cases those benefits outweigh the risk of infection,” she said.
“Infection exposure can be reduced with proper hand hygiene and maternal masking if needed,” she added
“[E]ssential information is emerging every day. We need to act wisely and urgently to protect mothers and newborns. And we also need to protect our nurses, midwives, and physicians from the risks of COVID-19 exposure as we support women with labor,” James Byrne, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, California, told Medscape Medical News, adding that the recommendations “offer an excellent framework.””I practice in Santa Clara county, which had one of the earliest identified cases of community-acquired COVID-19,” Byrne said.
“When that case was identified, we quickly enacted the CDC guidelines for our labor and delivery and postpartum units. We also began actions such as social distancing at work and staff education on preventive measures,” Byrne explained.
WHO Recommendations Allow “More Close, Intimate Contact”
It is safe to feed a newborn expressed milk from a mother with COVID-19. Both the CDC guidelines as well as more recent guidelines from the World Health Organization [WHO] support maternal breast milk. The CDC guidelines were written in mid-February when cases in the United States were very isolated.
“The WHO guidelines may be more practical in preparation for the home environment given the current widespread community transmission in most areas of our country,” Byrne said.
WHO’s recommendations allow “more close, intimate contact” because it recognizes that it may be feasible to separate a newborn from its mother in an environment such as a hospital, but that once the infant goes home, he or she will likely be exposed, he explained.
CDC Guidance Leaves Ultimate Choice to Mother
To women considering a home birth as a result of the pandemic, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) says that problems can develop quickly, and ambulance services may be unavailable if the mother or baby need them.