April 25, 2020 / 4:58 PM / a month ago

Mothering with a mask: Belgian with COVID-19 gives birth to healthy baby

(This April 25 story corrects to show baby will not be tested in paragraph 7)

Amandine, who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) just before giving birth, and Francois, wearing protective face masks, are pictured with their newborn daughter Mahaut at the maternity at CHIREC Delta Hospital in Brussels, Belgium April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A pregnant Belgian woman diagnosed with the coronavirus has given birth to a healthy baby daughter - but must now learn to care for her newborn wearing, and sleeping with, a protective mask.

Baby Mahaut was born on April 23 in Brussels by caesarean section because of earlier complications not linked to the respiratory disease COVID-19, but which led to mother Amandine being tested, even though she showed no symptoms.

“They told me they would test me for COVID-19 and I thought it would be negative. The next day, my gynaecologist called me to tell me that it was positive, I nearly fell off my chair,” Amandine, who asked not to give her surname, told Reuters.

Wearing a blue medical mask lying in a hospital bed and holding her baby to her chest, Amandine said it had been hard to give birth alone.

“I was so afraid for her ... it was a very peculiar birth, I only saw her for two minutes,” Amandine said, explaining how she was then moved to a surgery unit in the hospital to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“We count our lucky stars and hope things will go well for her,” Amandine said, with her husband Francois, also wearing a mask, now by her side. Her other two children cannot visit her however, due to the coronavirus risk.

The baby is not expected to be tested because she is healthy, doctors said.

The World Health Organization has said that new mothers who have tested positive for the coronavirus should be encouraged to care for and breastfeed their newborns as normal, provided they maintain stringent hygiene.

Despite fears about the potential transmission from mother to baby, a study of pregnant women in China who had tested positive for the virus, published in the Lancet journal in mid-February, reported that there was no reliable evidence of so-called vertical transmission to unborn babies.

Reporting by Christian Levaux and Yves Herman, Editing by Ros Russell

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