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Feb.04.2022
 Pregnancy and COVID-19

Pregnancy and COVID-19

Pregnant women and women who were recently pregnant are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Other conditions, such as being pregnant at an older age or having diabetes or obesity, can further increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This increased risk can last for at least 6 weeks (42 days) following the end of the pregnancy (postpartum).

Protect yourself and your baby by:
  • Knowing your risk factors. Ask your health care provider about your specific risk factors.
  • Working with your health care team to protect yourself against all infections, including COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 affect me?

Although the overall risks are low, when compared to women who are not pregnant, pregnant and recently pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including illness that results in admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), mechanical ventilation, and death.

If you get COVID-19 while pregnant or shortly after your pregnancy, there is an increased risk that you may:
  • Get a respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia or severe illness.
  • Give birth to your baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Have other complications that can affect your pregnancy, such as having a stillbirth.

How does COVID-19 affect my care?

If you have COVID-19, special precautions will be taken around your pregnancy:
  • You will have to notify the clinic or hospital before a visit. Steps will be taken to protect other people from the virus, including the visit taking place in a room intended for people who have COVID-19.
  • Tests and scans may be done differently before delivery (prenatal care).
  • Your birth plan may change, including what room you will be in and who may be with you during labor and delivery.
  • You may stay longer in the hospital after delivery (postpartum care).
  • COVID-19 will affect where your baby will stay after delivery. Ask about the risks and benefits of staying in the same room with your baby. Benefits include breastfeeding and mother–newborn bonding.
  • You may need to feed your baby differently.
  • Visitors will be limited after your baby is born.

How does COVID-19 affect my baby?

It is very rare for a mother with COVID-19 to pass the virus to the unborn baby.

After birth, a baby can get the virus if the baby is exposed to it.

Ask your health care provider about ways to protect your baby. A physical barrier can also be used, such as an incubator.

What can I do to lower my risk?

Medicines and vaccines

  • You can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This may protect you from severe illness. If you have concerns, talk to your health care provider.
  • Get other recommended vaccines, including the flu vaccine and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccine. You may get these vaccines at the same time you receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Ask your health care provider if you can get a 30-day, or longer, supply of your medicines so you can make fewer trips to the pharmacy.
  • If you have received a COVID-19 vaccine, consider enrolling in the v-safe program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This program uses an app on your smartphone to provide check-ins and gather information on your health after you receive the vaccine. There is a separate registry for pregnant women. For more information, visit:
  • Over time, protection from a vaccine can decline. A booster dose improves, or boosts, your body's ability to protect you from illness. The need for a booster dose depends on which COVID-19 vaccine you received and your risk of getting very sick from the virus.
    • If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant (up to 6 weeks postpartum), you can receive a COVID-19 booster if you completed your initial COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine series.
    • The booster may be any vaccine product available to you. You do not have to receive the same product as your initial vaccine or vaccine series.
    • If you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should get a booster dose at least 2 months after your initial vaccine.
    • If you received a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, you may need a booster dose at least 6 months after your initial vaccine.

Cleaning and personal hygiene

Washing hands with soap and water.

If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, it is very important that you keep taking recommended steps to prevent infection, including:
  • Wear a mask when in public or at work. Avoid people not wearing a mask.
  • Limit contact with other people as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep your distance. Stay more than 6 feet (1.8 m) away from others as much as possible. Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, face, eyes, or nose before washing your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.

Other things to do

  • Avoid people who might have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19, including people who live with you.
  • Follow guidelines from health officials about when to wear a mask. The CDC says that all fully vaccinated people should still wear masks in some cases, including:
    • In certain places, such as in health care settings, schools, airports, and on public transit.
    • When required by law or by guidelines from businesses or workplaces.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Call your health care provider if you have any health concerns.
    • Contact your health care provider right away if you think you have COVID-19. Tell your health care provider that you think you may have a COVID-19 infection and that you are pregnant.

Breastfeeding tips

Plan with your family and health care team how to feed your baby. Current research shows that the virus may not pass to a baby through breast milk.

If you are breastfeeding, you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines pose no risk for breastfeeding mothers or their babies.
  • Some of the vaccines might create antibodies in breast milk. These antibodies can help to protect your baby.

Take precautions if you have or may have COVID-19. Precautions include:
  • Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before feeding your baby. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wearing a mask while feeding your baby.
  • Pumping or expressing breast milk to feed to your baby. If possible, ask someone in your household who is not sick to feed your baby the expressed breast milk.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching pump parts.
    • Wash and disinfect all pump parts after expressing milk. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to clean and disinfect all pump parts.

Follow these instructions:

Managing stress

Some pregnant and postpartum women may have fear, uncertainty, and stress because of COVID-19. Find ways to manage stress. These may include:
  • Using relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
  • Getting regular exercise. Most women can continue their usual exercise routine during pregnancy. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.
  • Seeking support from family, friends, or spiritual resources. If you cannot be together in person, you can still connect by phone calls, texts, video calls, or online messaging.
  • Doing relaxing activities that you enjoy, such as listening to music or reading a good book.

General instructions

  • Follow your health care provider's instructions on taking medicines. Some medicines may not be safe to take during pregnancy.
  • Ask for help if you have counseling or nutritional needs. Your health care provider can offer advice or refer you to resources or specialists who can help you with various needs.
  • Keep all follow-up visits. This includes visits before and after you have your baby.

Questions to ask your health care team

  • What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?
  • What are the side effects that can occur after receiving any of the available COVID-19 vaccines?
  • How will COVID-19 affect my prenatal care visits, tests and scans, labor and delivery, and postpartum care?
  • What are the risks of COVID-19 to me and the potential risks to my unborn baby or infant?
  • How do vaccines pass antibodies to my unborn baby?
  • Should I plan to breastfeed my baby?
  • Where can I find mental health resources?
  • Where can I find support if I have financial concerns?

Where to find more information

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have signs and symptoms of infection, including a fever or cough.
    • Tell your health care team that you think you may have a COVID-19 infection and that you are pregnant.
  • You have strong emotions, such as sadness or anxiety.
  • You feel unsafe in your home and need help finding a safe place to live.
  • You have bloody or watery vaginal discharge or vaginal bleeding.

Get help right away if:

  • You have signs or symptoms of labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These include:
    • Contractions that are 5 minutes or less apart, or that increase in frequency, intensity, or length.
    • Sudden, sharp pain in the abdomen or in the lower back.
    • A gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina.
  • You have signs of more serious illness, such as:
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Chest pain.
    • A fever of 102.2°F (39°C) or higher that does not go away.
    • Vomiting every time you drink fluids.
    • Feeling extremely weak.
    • Fainting.

These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • Pregnant women and women who were recently pregnant are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Take precautions to protect yourself and your baby. Wear a mask. Wash hands often. Avoid touching your mouth, face, eyes, or nose before washing hands. Avoid large groups of people and stay away from people who are sick.
  • If you think you have a COVID-19 infection, contact your health care provider right away. Tell your health care provider that you think you have COVID-19 and that you are pregnant.
  • If you have COVID-19, special precautions may be taken during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after delivery.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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