What if I get sick with COVID-19 during pregnancy?

May 26, 2020

Updated December 9, 2020

It’s recommended that all pregnant people take extra precautions to keep safe and healthy during pregnancy. But nowadays, pregnant people are taking extra precautions to avoid getting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as well. 

Are your chances of getting COVID-19 higher during

We have limited pregnancy-specific data about COVID-19. Based
on what we know at this time, pregnant people are at increased risk for getting
sicker from COVID-19 and may have a higher risk of pregnancy complications,
such as preterm birth, preeclampsia, emergency cesarean (C-section) delivery or
pregnancy loss. However, more studies are being published and we are learning
more each day.

What is my risk of getting seriously ill?

During pregnancy, changes in your immune system may make you
more likely to get sick with some viruses. According to recent data, there is
an increased risk for deaths in pregnant people with COVID-19 than non-pregnant
people. Recent CDC data showed that symptomatic pregnant people with COVID-19
had a 70% higher risk of death compared to non-pregnant people. If you have a
severe chronic health condition like lung disease or diabetes, you may be at a
higher risk of serious complications if you get COVID-19.

What can I do if I’m pregnant and I get COVID-19 symptoms?

If you have a fever, cough and other
 you may have COVID-19. Call your health care provider for
advice and directions. You can also self-check your symptoms using this CDC

Check your temperature frequently and monitor your cough and
breathing. If you have any of the following warning signs, call 911 or go to
the hospital right away:

  • Difficulty
    breathing (more than what you normally experience during pregnancy)
  • Constant
    pain or pressure in the chest
  • New
  • Bluish
    lips or face
  • Can’t
    wake up or stay awake

According to the CDC, most people with COVID-19 have mild
illness and can recover at home. With your provider’s OK, follow CDC
recommendations to care for yourself and avoid spreading the disease to others
If you have mild symptoms.

If you are pregnant and have tested positive for COVID-19
or think you may have COVID-19, read below for answers to commonly asked

  • Will
    my baby get COVID-19 too?

It’s not clear whether a pregnant person with COVID-19 can
transmit the virus to the baby. Recent research published in the Journal of
American Medical Association
(JAMA) and other journals suggests that
transmission during pregnancy may be possible.What should I do when labor

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(also called ACOG) says that for most pregnant people with COVID-19, your labor
and delivery plans do not need to change. Talk to your provider about your
preferences and update your birth plan using our template here.

If you are in labor and you have COVID-19 or you think you
have COVID-19, call the hospital labor and delivery department or birth center
before you go. Be sure to tell the staff that you have or may have COVID-19.
Then the medical team can prepare to take the best possible care of you and
your baby. They will take steps to prevent your baby and your care team from
getting the infection. Wear a face mask or cloth face covering when you go into
the hospital or birth center.

  • How
    can a hospital or birth center protect my baby after birth?

If you have COVID-19 (suspected or confirmed), your baby
will be tested for COVID-19, whether he has signs of infection or not.

Experts think that COVID-19 spreads through small liquid
droplets from the nose or mouth when someone who is infected breathes, talks,
coughs, sings or sneezes. Infections occur mainly through exposure to droplets
when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. A newborn can
get COVID-19 from person-to-person contact after birth. If you have or may have
COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about how to protect your baby.

The decision of separating you and your baby to prevent him
from getting the infection is made between you and the health care team. You
and your family can talk with your health care providers about the risks and
benefits of staying in separate rooms before you make this decision. Skin-to-skin contact
has lots of benefits. Not only does it help keep your baby’s heart and
breathing regulated, but it also increases the chances of successful
breastfeeding and helps reduce your stress.

If you and your baby are not separated, you can reduce the
chances of your baby getting infected by washing your hands thoroughly and
putting on a face mask before touching your baby. Your health care team may
help with other precautions like keeping 6 feet of space or a curtain between
you and your baby.

  • Should
    I breastfeed my baby if I have COVID-19?

Breast milk helps protect babies from many illnesses. It is
also the best food for most babies. So far, COVID-19 has not been found in the
breast milk of people with COVID-19.

There are a few simple hygiene tips to help protect your
baby from COVID-19 while you breastfeed her directly or from a bottle with
pumped breast milk.

  • Wash
    your hands before feeding your baby.  Use soap and water if
    possible.  Alcohol-based sanitizer is OK if you don’t have soap and
  • Clean
    your breast before feeding.
  • Wear a
    facemask or face covering to cover any droplets from the nose or mouth
    while breastfeeding and handling pumps or bottle parts.
  • Use
    clean hands to handle your breast pump and bottle parts before and after
  • Ask
    for help at home or in the hospital.
    • Pump
      your breast milk and have someone who is not sick feed your baby.
    • Make
      sure the healthy caregiver feeding your baby also follows hygiene tips.

Your health care provider may recommend that you remain
separate from your baby at home and in the hospital, except for breastfeeding
time. Or she may suggest you pump your breast milk and have a healthy caregiver
feed it to your baby. If you feel anxious due to COVID-19, your pregnancy and
your baby, make sure you talk to your provider.