Local NICU Nurses Discuss Covid Among Pregnant Women, Newborn Babies, and Postpartum Mothers

Yasmin Marcelo, Reporter

The Covid-19 virus does not automatically transmit to newborn babies even though the mothers test positive during their pregnancy, according to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) registered nurses: Kristina Maong, Josephine Marasigan, and Aida Lishen.
Maong, nurse leader in Adventist Health, explains how studies have shown, “The COVID-19 virus is not found in the amniotic fluids and breastmilk” of pregnant mothers, which is why it is uncommon for newborn babies to have a positive COVID test regardless of their mothers’ result.
Newborns can still get infected, but their symptoms are not as severe as what would be seen in older patients, Maongcontinues. She also talks about how, similar to adults, babies who test positive are usually at a higher risk when they already have comorbidities, such as being premature or having sepsis. “The baby can be positive for COVID, but the signs and symptoms that the baby is having might not be related to the COVID-19,” she elaborates.
Marasigan, a nurse in Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, details the precautionary procedures healthcare workers take to prevent an infant from contracting the virus.“If the mom is tested positive,” she says, “everyone in the delivery room or the [operating room] will be wearing the necessary personal [protective equipment],” and the newborn will be taken to the isolette. The infant will then be transferred to the NICU where they will quarantine for 14 days and get tested after five days.
Visiting protocols in the NICU have been altered in order to protect infants from being infected with the virus. Lishen, a nurse in Mercy Southwest Hospital and AdventistHealth, details how both parents must take a swab test and test negative before being allowed to visit. “The mom and the dad cannot visit together and only once a day,” she clarifies.
In the case of a postpartum mother testing positive for the virus, they may undergo a more drastic experience. Marasigan describes how two of her C-section patients who tested positive were sent directly into the ICU and were intubated. Both Marasigan and Maong explain that, because pregnant mothers are already compromised, they are both at a higher risk of contracting the virus and more prone to experiencing intense symptoms.
Fortunately, pregnant mothers are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Maong explains that the vaccine does not contain a live virus and it does not cross the placenta, so the baby in the womb should not be affected. Lishen also states how some of her co-workers who received the vaccine during their pregnancy still delivered their babies safely.