ATLANTA — Sally King Benedict should be planning a baby shower right now, but the Atlanta mom isn’t taking any chances with potentially contracting COVID-19.
“I had some really great friends that were so sweet, they wanted to do it, [but] I don’t think so,” said the 37-year-old artist.
Benedict is looking forward to delivering her baby girl just before Thanksgiving. While she’s grateful for a healthy pregnancy so far, Benedict is nervous about catching the virus.
"You have to let go of that anxiety. You keep telling yourself, 'if the baby is healthy, I'm gonna stay as healthy as possible'," Benedict said.
Pregnant moms are not more likely to contract the virus, but doctors say their symptoms can turn more severe.
"There’s some information that pregnant women with COVID are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to need intensive care,” said Denise Jamieson, an obstetrician and chair of Emory University’s Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics. “So, it’s another reason why it’s really important that pregnant women take all measures possible to avoid getting COVID.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), at least 696 newborns have contracted the virus, and 37 have been hospitalized. None have died.
If a mother does contract COVID, Jamieson said evidence shows most babies should not be separated from the mothers.
“And, that’s really important, because we know that early bonding of babies and their mothers is really important, and early breast feeding is really important,” she said.
There is some evidence mothers can pass COVID-19 on to their child during pregnancy, but Dr. Jamieson thinks that’s rare.
“For those babies that are born infected, some of them have been ill. There has been one report [of an infant] who has had some long-term issues, but again, there is a lot we still don’t know about COVID in babies and I think time will tell,” Jamieson explained.
Benedict wears a masks and stays away from crowds, just as doctors recommend. She said her husband will likely self-quarantine at least 10 days before her due date to make sure he doesn’t gets sick and is able to be in the room with her during the birth.
Emory and other hospitals are generally only allowing one support person for the mother in the delivery room.
Benedict’s biggest concern is not having the family support at home she needs after giving birth.
"That will be very tough if people are not going to be able to be in our home and, sort of, it requires a village. I need help," Benedict said.