After a caesarean section, a coronavirus-positive patient, Marta Di Pietra, is returned to her room by healthcare professionals. The baby, after the routine visit, will be swabbed and reunited with the mother later. (Andrea Carrubba)
At the conclusion of a cesarean section of Marta Di Pietra, a patient positive for coronavirus, the newborn is examined by the pediatricians. (Andrea Carrubba)
ROME – When her baby was placed in her arms, she excitedly wondered: Was he negative? “It was one of the first things I hoped for him,” said Marta Di Pietra, 28, who tested positive for coronavirus three days before her caesarean section. Di Pietra was one of several mothers photographed by Italian photojournalist Andrea Carrubba.
Welcome to birth in the age of covidence, when even mothers without coronavirus face new worries and limitations, while with positive results they are forced to deal with loneliness, fear of their newborn and inability to so much as kiss them – because of the masks they need.
Some mothers transmit the disease to their children. Others do not. The Del Ponte hospital in the northern Italian city of Varese has rebuilt itself for all these complications, even when it comes to whipping newborns minutes after their birth.
Especially for positive mothers, chief obstetrician Nella Iovino said the underlying anxiety is “unmistakable.”
“They are in a sensitive moment in their lives, they will demand families and loved ones embrace. But due to the pandemic, it is no longer possible. They give birth and they are alone. ”
Di Pietra said she is unsure if she would have wanted a pregnancy if she had known about the pandemic. But she became pregnant in February. Then the eruption exploded around her in the famous hard-hit region of Lombardy.
She continued to fear that she would catch the coronavirus and infect the fetus as part of a new subset of worries that had just become a member of the traditional in the first months of birth.
At the end of October, Di Pietra was on maternity leave and already felt more secure at home. One month later, however, she was routinely asked to test for coronavirus before giving birth and had positive results.
“Even though I was asymptomatic, I was scared.”
Along with fear, a sense of loneliness crept in as any hope disappeared that health professionals would ever let her partner enter the delivery room.
In the morning of her planned birth, she took a positive-only elevator to the third floor of a hospital in the town of Varese and was led into a waiting room. Fully fit nurses asked if further covid-related research could be performed on the baby, on milk and urine, to which she gave consent.
Ciro Pinelli, 32, one of the ob-gyns who helped her give birth, says the hospital’s second wave had finally found a foothold with covide births, even though the large number of cases had actually increased. “Over time, it has become normalized,” he says.
Yet the need to be covered from head to toe during surgery never helps: “We have two sets of gloves and two layers of clothing over our uniform plus a hood, a mask and a face shield. Breathing can sometimes fog up on the screen and reduce visibility, ”says Pinelli.
Once her newborn son had been wiped off, Di Pietra had only a few minutes with him before he was burned away to kindergarten. She would not be with her baby again until much later in the afternoon. “In the meantime, I did not want to see anyone except nurses. I could not leave the room. I was isolated. ”
When nurses finally brought his son back, Di Pietra was very relieved to hear that he had tested negative. But until she did, too, she had to wear a mask all the time: carefully disinfected breastfeeding was not considered risky, but breathing may very well still be.
“How can you ask a mother not to kiss her child, it’s heartbreaking,” says Iovino. “The fear of infecting your own child is a terrible feeling.”
But Di Pietra had already started considering it at home as soon as she had figured out the test. She had then texted her own ob-gyn: “Hope I get negative soon so I can kiss my baby.”
“Dear Marta,” her doctor replied with three heart emojis, “he wants to hear your voice and know you’re there.”
“You get the rest of your life to kiss him.”
In a delivery room, a natural birth of a woman who tested negative for coronavirus is underway. (Andrea Carrubba)
The cesarean section birth of Marta Di Pietra, a coronavirus-positive mother, performed in a special area at Del Ponte Hospital in Varese. (Andrea Carrubba)
Two parents who tested positive for coronavirus but are asymptomatic follow their daughter’s condition in the neonatal intensive care unit. They were allowed to see her on a video call. (Andrea Carrubba)
Dr. Ciro Pinelli, after completing a cesarean section delivery of a coronavirus-positive mother, gets rid of personal protective equipment. (Andrea Carrubba)
A medical director of the neonatology department at Del Ponte Hospital in Varese visits a small coronavirus-positive patient admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. (Andrea Carrubba)
A health worker sprays disinfectant into the hands of the doctor who has just finished a caesarean section in the operating room at the hospital in Varese. (Andrea Carrubba)
A mother gives breast milk in a bottle for the first time to her baby, born prematurely in the 34th week. (Andrea Carrubba)
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