This is a crazy time that we are living in. Although it is not surprising for those who have been paying attention… mono-farming crops practices are unsustainable and factory farming of animals is inhumane, fraught with horrific abuse, torture, and disregard for the ultimate health and welfare of the animals and inevitably leads to disease and negative health outcomes for the humans who eat them. Fracking, deforestation and oil pipelines have wreaked havoc on this planet and destroyed entire ecosystems on a global scale. We have endangered the oceans by our irresponsible fishing practices and despicable habit of dumping our waste in the oceans the world. We have seen devastating fires on multiple continents.
We have been raping and pillaging the earth for a long time in the name of technology, in the name of instant gratification and utter disregard for nature. Add to this the ability of world travel for the masses. Is it no wonder, then, that now we have a virulent, deadly virus that spreads so easily by simple human contact? That we are plagued by a world where we have become afraid of contact with one another, paranoid that an accidental bump in a grocery store or neglecting to wear gloves when pumping gas make us paranoid that we have contracted the dreaded SARS-CoV-2 virus and could either become deathly ill or spread it to countless others by association, or both? And we are watching the numbers of those testing positive growing by leaps and bounds to nearly 1 million cases. The US now outranks the world in a number of positive cases and NY now has as many infected people as in all of China.
A Silver Lining
It appears, however, that pregnant women (contrary to what we have seen in the past with some other coronaviruses) are not getting more critical infections than other people. Elders, those with co morbid conditions (diabetes, high, blood pressure, COPD, smokers, asthmatics and those with weak lungs, maybe those who take ibuprofen, immunocompromised people, etc) would be at higher risk of contracting a critical form of illness from this virus than otherwise healthy pregnant people. Also children, other than those less than 1 year old, are less likely to get a severe form of the illness. We don’t know how it might affect fetuses in the 1st or 2nd trimesters who are exposed in the womb. But we do know that it is not found in amniotic fluid, placentas, breast milk, or cord blood of newborns. So we believe it is not transmitted from mother to baby. If common-sense precautions – such as good hand washing and wearing a mask for a parent who suspects exposure, exhibiting symptoms, or tests positive for COVID-19 – are followed, it is unlikely that an infant who co habitats with parents immediately after birth will get a critical form of sickness.
Infant Bonding and Labor Support are Human Rights
Breastfeeding confers immunity for other contagious diseases and is usually recommended as best for parent and baby. Baby’s are better able to regulate their heart rate, respiration, temperature, and blood sugar if allowed skin to skin contact and early breastfeeding. It is a birth parents right to choose rooming-in and skin to skin breastfeeding with her newborn versus handing the baby off to be “watched” in the NICU with no evidence of ill health. Evidence-based birth has a waiver you can bring with you to the hospital if pressured to release your healthy baby for separation as a COVID-19 precaution. Let’s not separate babies from their birth parent and source of best nutrition, and healthy immune and emotional newborn response.
The other parameter to watch is the restriction of support people for the pregnant person. In my opinion, based on common sense, what we know about the human Microbiome, and the laws of infectious diseases (this one in particular as it is slowly revealing its characteristics to us) is that people who cohabitate tend to share their microbiota – good and bad ones. Close contact is how this disease spreads. Assuming most people are practicing social distancing and protecting themselves and their loved ones – particularly if they are expecting a baby into the household – the pregnant persons significant other will not increase the health workers risk any more than the pregnant person herself. In fact, we know that under normal circumstances, nurses spend about 30% of the labor with the client. Having their significant other would increase the laboring persons comfort and safety by providing constant companionship helping them to the bathroom, with position changes, and overall comfort. Let’s not just have a knee jerk reaction to isolate laboring people out of fear of the unknown.
What YOU Can Do
Please socially distance yourself other than essential contact. Don’t go to the hospital unless you are having trouble breathing. Do go to a drive-through testing site or hospital if you have trouble breathing. Wear gloves and a mask if you have one, a bandana will work in a pinch. Practice generous hand washing for 20 secs and remove clothing and shower immediately upon coming home if you’ve had exposure to unknown people. Take supplements that promote a healthy immune response, and eat responsibly to encourage and support your health. Meditate and be happy, the world needs it!