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Monique Cook, a mom in Atlanta, was diagnosed with COVID-19 at eight months pregnant.
She remembers receiving general anesthesia, then waking up from a coma five days later to learn her twins had been delivered and were healthy.
Doctors are still learning how COVID-19 affects pregnant women, but it can make them more susceptible to complications like preterm birth.
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When Monique Cook woke up in a hospital bed and looked down at her deflated belly, she had one question for nurses: “Where are my babies?” the mom in Atlanta recalled on the Today Show May 7.
The last Cook remembered was going to the hospital at eight months pregnant after experiencing rapid contractions and difficulty breathing. She was admitted to the intensive care unit, where she tested positive for COVID-19, the illness the coronavirus causes.
Doctors told her they’d need to perform a C-section and asked her to count down from 10 as they anesthetized her. Five days later, she woke up from a coma, not realizing her twins had been delivered, she’d transferred hospitals, and had been on a form of life support to aid her heart and lungs, according to the hospital’s Facebook page.
However, because she had COVID-19, Cook couldn’t meet her twins, August Sky and Angel Renee, or see her husband, Andre, right away. Nine days after their birth, her husband sent a nurse a picture of the girls, which her nurse printed out to show Cook.
At that point, Cook said she started crying and thought, “These are my babies!”
The new mom is now home with her family, which includes two other girls, and grateful for the medical staff that fought for her.
“This story could have ended differently, listening to how many deaths from this, the COVID-19 like, the numbers go higher and higher just about every day,” Cook said on the Today Show. “I actually survived.”
Cook isn’t the only new mom who gave birth while in a medically-induced coma due to the coronavirus. Last month, Angela Primachenko of Vancouver, Washington, also talked to the Today Show about meeting her daughter, Ava, 15 days after the delivery she had no recollection of.
“The last few weeks have been filled with so much unexpected change in my life … and I feel like I can write a novel … but for tonight I’ll just write that life is good, and let’s find the good in every day,” Primachenko wrote on Instagram after bringing her baby home.
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Doctors are still learning how COVID-19 affects pregnant women
While pregnancy does weaken the immune system, it doesn’t seem to make women susceptible to COVID-19 the way age or conditions like lung or heart disease does, Dr. Jane van Dis, an OB-GYN who serves as medical director at the telemedicine network Maven, previously told Business Insider.
“While I think pregnant women should practice every degree of social distancing that they can because that is just smart, I don’t think pregnant women should feel a sense of panic,” she said.
Still, because pregnant women are at greater risk of severe morbidity and mortality from other respiratory infections like the flu, they “should be considered an at-risk population for COVID-19,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
COVID-19 can also make it more likely for pregnant women to have complications, namely preterm birth, according to the CDC. There isn’t much evidence that pregnant women can pass on the virus in utero.
If possible, pregnant women with COVID-19 should plan to give birth in a hospital, where staff must follow CDC recommendations for managing them and their newborns to reduce the risk of transmission after birth.
That may mean putting moms and their babies in separate isolation rooms, or keeping mom and newborn six feet apart, Dr. Jessica Madden, a pediatrician and neonatologist who serves as medical director of Aeroflow Breastpumps, previously told Business Insider.
After delivery, the CDC still recommends pregnant women with COVID-19 breastfeed because there’s no sign that the virus can pass through breastmilk. New moms with the virus should wear a mask, though, and naturally, wash their hands thoroughly beforehand.
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