Coronavirus tough calls: When a mother and newborn can stay together — and when they can’t

As the number of new coronavirus cases rises across Ontario, hospitals are preparing to help deliver babies to women who test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

At Mount Sinai Hospital, that means preparing for the tough call about when a mother and her newborn can stay together — and when they can’t.

Experts have tried to assuage people’s concerns: early data shows being pregnant does not put you at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, nor is there evidence that breastfeeding your baby could transmit the virus (handwashing remains key).

And while no evidence exists yet indicating whether a pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn child, experts admit there really is so much we still don’t know.

In China, where this strain of coronavirus was first discovered, the pregnancy outcomes have been largely good. However, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada reported it is “likely to be strongly correlated with the degree of maternal illness,” as was the case with SARS and MERS.

In more severe instances, outcomes included “spontaneous and iatrogenic” (or medically indicated) preterm labour, and in one case, stillbirth.

It’s hard for many to contemplate bringing a newborn into the world right now, a sea of “unknowns” that Global News’ own eight-month-pregnant Jamie Mauracher recently wrote about navigating.

In any case, Mount Sinai is “well prepared” to care for pregnant women, Dr. Prakesh Shah, the hospital’s pediatrician-in-chief, told Global News via email on March 18.

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