Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Pregnancy and Childbirth
If you’re pregnant or just had a baby, you likely have many questions about how COVID-19 could affect you and your child. Researchers are still learning more about how the virus affects pregnant women and their babies. Here is information to help you work with your healthcare team.
What are my risks of COVID-19 while pregnant?
Researchers don’t know if pregnant people are more likely to get COVID-19. But pregnancy can cause changes to your immune system that can cause any viral illness to be more severe. Take extra care not to get sick during this time. This includes:
Wearing a high-quality, well-fitted face mask as advised by your local community and health experts. You may choose to mask at any time. Know your COVID-19 Community Level.
Washing your hands often
Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available
Staying away from crowds and keeping distance from others in public as advised
Staying away from anyone who is sick
Staying current on all advised vaccines
Improving airflow indoors. This may include opening windows to improve air flow, changing filters more often on your heating or air conditioning units, and turning on fans.
Moving indoor group activities outside if possible. Viruses spread more easily indoors than outdoors. See the CDC website for more information.
Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces every day
Not traveling if you are sick. See the CDC's travel website .
What about the COVID-19 vaccine?
The FDA has approved several vaccines to prevent COVID-19, including for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Expert groups including ACOG and CDC recommend vaccines. Current data show the vaccines are safe and work well to prevent COVID-19 or reduce the risk of getting seriously ill if you do get the virus.
COVID-19 vaccination is advised for all people 6 months and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. There are 1-dose and 2-dose vaccines available. They are given as shots in the muscle. The 2-dose vaccines are given several weeks apart. For current information about the vaccines, visit the CDC website or the ACOG website. Booster shots are available for people ages 5 years and older. Talk with your healthcare provider about which vaccine and booster is best for you and your family.
What are the risks to my baby?
Researchers don’t exactly know yet what the risks are with COVID-19 for babies. These are some things they do know:
High fever from any cause in the first trimester of pregnancy can raise the risk for some kinds of birth defects. Tell your healthcare provider if you have a fever. They will help you work to keep your fever down.
There are only a few cases of babies found infected with COVID-19 within a few days of birth. But experts don’t know if the babies picked up the virus while in the mother’s womb, during childbirth, or just after.
Preterm birth and low birth weight have happened in cases of other types of coronavirus, such as MERS, and SARS from 2003. But experts don’t yet know if these are a risk with COVID-19.
Miscarriage and stillbirth have also happened with MERS and earlier SARS. But experts don’t yet know if these are a risk with COVID-19.
Is it safe to keep my healthcare appointments?
Yes, it's safe and important to keep your appointments. Your healthcare team may change some of your appointments to a phone call or video chat. If you need a blood test, ultrasound, or other test in person, you may need to come without your partner. Wear a mask covering both your nose and mouth as advised, use hand sanitizer, and follow all instructions from the healthcare staff at the visit to protect yourself from the virus. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare office before you go to your appointment. They will give you instructions to follow.
What if someone in my home is sick with COVID-19 symptoms?
If your partner or another household member has COVID-19 symptoms, they should wear a mask if around you, and they should self-isolate. This means staying in one part of the household away from others. Wear a mask when you are sick or caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19. They should not share food, towels, sheets, or other personal items. Clean common-use surfaces often, such as doorknobs and counter tops. If your partner is sick and it’s near your due date, ask your healthcare provider how best to manage when you go into labor. You may be given specific instructions.
Is it safe to give birth at a hospital or birth center?
Medical facilities are taking a lot of safety steps to protect people from COVID-19. Talk with your healthcare provider about the hospital or birth center you are planning to use. Ask where and how pregnant people and their partners and babies are protected. Keep in mind that your birth plan may need to change.
If you have COVID-19 and are in labor, call your healthcare provider and delivery unit before you arrive. Your hospital or birthing center will take steps to protect people around you from infection. You will need to wear a medical mask covering your nose and mouth. You may be in a special room that helps prevent infections from spreading. Your baby may need to be in a separate room after birth. Ask the hospital what to expect if you are pregnant and have COVID-19.
Before and after birth, you may be asked to limit the number of visitors at the hospital. This is important to reduce risk of infection to everyone in the hospital. Follow all healthcare staff instructions, including their instructions on how to prepare your home for when you and baby go home.
Is it safe to give birth at home?
The risks of home birth vary with each person and each pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare team about the benefits and risks for your pregnancy. Home birth at this time may mean that emergency care could be delayed, if needed. If you were planning birth in a hospital or birth center, your healthcare provider may advise that this is still the safest plan.
Is it safe to hold my baby or breastfeed?
The virus hasn’t been found in the breastmilk of people with COVID-19. But the virus can spread through coughing, sneezing, and talking. If you have or may have COVID-19, wear a mask while holding your baby or breastfeeding. Wear the mask so that it covers both your nose and mouth. Wash your hands often when caring for your baby. Your provider may advise you to pump breastmilk to be given to your child by your partner. Wash your hands before and after using the breast pump supplies. If you have COVID-19 and want to breastfeed your baby, talk with your healthcare provider about the best ways to protect your baby.
How can I care for my baby (after discharge) if I am positive for COVID-19?
You will need to self-isolate to limit contact with your baby. You will need to wear a mask and wear clean clothes when holding or feeding your baby. Wear the mask so that it covers both your nose and mouth. You can pump breastmilk and store it to maintain your milk supply until you are no longer infectious. Or you can pump and have your partner use this milk to feed the baby. Talk with your healthcare team about when you can stop self-isolation.
Is it safe to have visitors see the baby, or help with baby care?
To be extra safe, it’s best to limit visitors, especially people who are not fully vaccinated. Only the closest, healthy family members who live with you or those who are healthy and fully vaccinated should be in direct contact with the baby. Tell anyone who is sick not to visit. All visitors should wash their hands when they visit. Healthy unvaccinated visitors from outside your household should also wear face masks covering both their nose and mouth and keep at least 6 feet from you and the baby. If you are not fully vaccinated, it’s also best to limit contact with people who are at higher risk for problems from COVID-19. This includes older adults and people with certain health conditions.
If a visitor is to hold the baby, they should wash their hands first. Wrap the baby in a blanket and then remove the blanket afterward. The visitor should then wash their hands. Visitors should not kiss or touch the baby’s face. This does not apply to the closest family members unless they are sick.
When to call your healthcare provider
If you’re pregnant and have COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away. They will ask you questions about your health. You may be advised to stay home. test, and treat your symptoms. Or you may be advised to get medical care.
Last modified date: 8/17/2022
Online Medical Reviewer: Irina Burd MD PhDL Renee Watson MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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