Parentology recently reported on Angela Primachenko, a respiratory therapist in Vancouver, Washington who was placed in a medically-induced coma after testing positive for the coronavirus. During that time, she gave birth to her newborn daughter Ava, who has since tested negative for the virus.
“I feel like I’m a miracle walking,” Primachenko told the TODAY show via phone on Monday. “It was just extremely mind-blowing.”
Similar stories of infected women giving birth in a so-called “coronavirus coma” have been hitting the media. Many of these stories involving pregnant women who work on the frontlines of the pandemic. Here are a few stories — some life-affirming, and others horribly tragic — as well as information pregnant women should be aware of during this time.
Tragedy for UK Nurse
Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, a 28-year-old nurse in the UK, was admitted to the hospital on April 7 after testing positive for coronavirus two days earlier. Agyapong died shortly thereafter, and her baby had to be delivered via emergency C-section. A spokeswoman for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) told CNN the child is doing “very well.”
Ohio Nurse’s “Unknown” Birth
In Ohio, 27-year-old nurse Megan Mitchell Sites was seven months pregnant when she contracted the coronavirus. Her condition deteriorated quickly over a period of 24 hours.
In order to save her life, Sites was placed on a ventilator and sedated. Her son was delivered at only 29 weeks via emergency C-section. According to Sites’ family, she had no idea she’d given birth when she emerged from sedation.
A GoFundMe page update on April 14 said: Megz is no longer on ECMO and it is out of her room. This is huge!! She is on the ventilator and they are beginning to decrease her sedation. She is starting to move her arms and legs, and we hope she starts to open her eyes in the next few days! This brings so much joy to know she is improving every day even if it’s in the slightest way. Vitals continue to be stable.
Baby boy Sites is continuing to do well and is still on nasal cannula oxygen at a low setting. He has been tested for COVID-19 and it has been negative so he is moved out of isolation.
Daddy is out of isolation as well and has officially met Baby Sites and held him for the first time yesterday. He stated it was a much-needed experience to finally hold his baby boy.
New York Mom Meets Newborn Son
In New York, Yanira Soriano, 36, gave birth to her baby in early April while on a ventilator and in an artificial coma due to complications from COVID-19. Soriana was intubated for 11 days in the ICU at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore after contracting the virus. Soriano has since made a “miraculous” recovery, according to her doctor.
“We really did not know if she was going to survive at all,” said Benjamin Schwartz, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Southside Hospital in an interview with New Straits Times. “Most patients on a ventilator don’t survive.”
Soriano’s release from the hospital was marked by a cheering hospital staff and getting to hold her newborn for the first time. Check out the video below.
Pregnancy Risks During Coronavirus Pandemic
These stories highlight how pregnant women represent some of the most vulnerable among us. While health officials are still trying to assess the impact of coronavirus on pregnancy, they all agree that pregnant women are considered high risk due to their weakened immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote an advisory note that said, “it is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus is “unlikely.” Yet the CDC warns there needs to be more research about transmission than these preliminary findings.
There are a number of risks pregnant women need to be aware of for their own health and the safety of their babies. There is also discourse between the WHO and the CDC regarding issues such as how infected mothers should approach breastfeeding and interacting with their newborns. For example, the WHO encourages new mothers and infants to remain together immediately after birth, whereas the CDC recommends that a newborn be separated from his infected mother.
Indeed, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sides with the CDC, stating that it’s not the transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk that is the main concern, but rather mother-to-child transmission through respiratory droplets during breastfeeding or close contact.
Health officials recommend pregnant women be extra vigilant about handwashing and practice social distancing.