Stand for Health Freedom and Informed Choice Maryland endorse the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance on pregnancy and breastfeeding for COVID-19-infected mothers and babies. The evidence-based WHO recommendation encourages companions to be with mothers during labor. It also encourages healthcare providers to support mothers and babies in maintaining skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding on demand while rooming together in hospitals, birth centers or home settings — unless otherwise contraindicated by emergent conditions (such as necessary NICU support). This policy is what we believe will produce the best outcomes. Additionally, we support WHO guidelines for mothers with COVID to wash their hands frequently and practice respiratory hygiene, including the use of masks when possible; these practices have been demonstrated to prevent person-to-person COVID-19 transmission.
We recognize that the peer-reviewed evidence on mother-to-infant transmission is inconclusive; however, to date, there is no evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted to any infant by contact with an infected mother after birth. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from mothers to infants through breastmilk. There is, however, strong evidence that breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact set mom and baby up for the best outcomes. Breast milk provides antibody protection against viruses and other pathogens. In addition to increasing positive breastfeeding outcomes, skin-to-skin contact protects infants from infections and promotes rapid recovery from illness by increasing oxygen saturation and regulating body temperature and heart rate. Separating mothers from babies makes establishing breastfeeding difficult, even if breastfeeding is allowed and encouraged.
Current CDC guidance on COVID-19, which directly conflicts with WHO guidance, advises facilities to restrict any birth partner or family member from labor and delivery and to “consider temporarily” separating mothers and newborns when the mother is infected with — or suspected of being infected with — COVID-19. That guidance lacks supporting scientific evidence. As such, we consider it to be potentially detrimental to mothers and babies. The United States already has one of the highest infant mortality rates of any industrialized nation. In fact, the United States ranked 33rd out of 36 OCED countries for infant mortality in 2018 and was the first country to report a COVID infant death.
Federal law protecting parental rights under the 14th Amendment guarantees that any restrictions on rights must be narrowly tailored to the precise public urgency; strict scrutiny applies. A universal policy of separating COVID-infected mothers and (suspected infected mothers) from their infants is unconstitutional; it interferes with a parent’s right to determine the care, custody and control of her child as well as best practices to maintain that child’s optimal health. Stand for Health Freedom strongly supports the evidence-based WHO guidance to promote the best possible outcomes for mothers and infants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an emergency, health freedom and constitutional rights don’t stop being important; they become more important. Please email your state governor below NOW and ask him or her to urge your state department of health to follow WHO, not CDC, obstetrics guidelines. Then, email President Trump below and ask him to direct the CDC to rescind its guidelines and adopt the WHO guidelines.