Coronavirus (COVID-19) During Pregnancy: Frequently Asked Questions for Pregnant Patients
Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) for pregnant patients.
News5 Minute ReadSep | 28 | 2021
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact daily life inside and outside of the hospital, there are many questions and concerns about what this outbreak means during pregnancy. The brief comments below reflect both available data and expert opinions as of 9/22/2021. Most advice for pregnant people regarding COVID-19 is similar to the advice for the general population in the United States.
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A: Pregnant people experience changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of serious infection. Studies during outbreaks of other related coronavirus infections (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV) as well as influenza have demonstrated that pregnant people are more susceptible to severe illness. Data from the CDC and around the world suggests that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness defined as an increased risk of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, need for mechanical ventilation, and even death compared to reproductive-age, non-pregnant individuals. Pregnant people living with underlying conditions, such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes, may be at additional risk of severe disease.
A: COVID-19 vaccination prior to or during pregnancy is a safe and effective way to protect yourself against severe illness from COVID-19 and has been shown to help pregnant individuals pass COVID-19 fighting antibodies to the baby during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
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A: Available data from infection during early pregnancy does not demonstrate an increase in miscarriage.
A: Several studies found that pregnant people with COVID-19 infection had a higher rate of preterm delivery then would be expected in the population.
A: Although there are cases of reported transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from mother to baby during pregnancy, the transmission rate is low and generally associated with deliveries that happen within two weeks of infection.
Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to newborn, after birth, through infectious respiratory droplets is a concern and there have been a few cases reported of newborns as young as a few days old with infection. To reduce the risk of this transmission, mothers who are infected themselves or with symptoms that suggest infection will need to pay close attention to hand hygiene and wearing a mask when caring for their infants. While in our hospital, mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID 19 will stay in the same room with their babies,the health care team will help to arrange the room so that the baby can be 6 feet away from the mother to limit exposure. When possible, whether in the hospital or at home, care should be provided to the infant by a healthy caregiver until the mother has cleared the infection.
A: Pregnant health care workers, like all health care workers, are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine and follow all updated infection control guidelines for their health care facilities to keep themselves and others safe in the health care environment.
A: Given the ongoing spread of COVID-19 variants in many states in the U.S. and around the globe, and because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, if you are unvaccinated, avoiding travel is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
If you must travel, be sure to discuss your plans with your OB providers and check the most up to date CDC guidance. Protect yourself and others during your trip by practicing hand hygiene, wearing a face covering in public, and maintaining six feet of physical distance from others particularly when indoors.
U.S. travel advice from the CDC >
A: Given the potential increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness for pregnant people , it is important to take steps to protect yourself. This includes completing COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, wearing a mask in indoor public places, washing hands frequently and maintaining physical distancing when possible. Gathering with others in the outdoor setting is reasonable, although it is important to discuss the risks of different social environments with your OB providers.
A: Please call your OB's office to report your symptoms right away regardless of your vaccination status. Other symptoms to look out for include sore throat, runny nose/nasal congestion, shortness of breath, muscle aches and loss of smell or taste. Your OB provider will help you to arrange COVID-19 testing, if needed.
A: Despite the many challenges posed by COVID-19, we are committed to helping pregnant people have the best labor and delivery experience possible which includes having a birth partner in the room during labor. Given the evolving pandemic, and in line with current hospital policy and needs to protect the health of our staff, the individuals who come to support you must be free from symptoms of coronavirus infection and wear a face covering during the entire visit. You can find the latest information on the Obstetrical Visitor Policy page of our website.
Q: If I develop COVID-19, will I still be able to breastfeed?A: Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Although much is unknown about COVID-19, all data to date has not identified coronavirus transmission through the breast milk. A mother with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should take all precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, the infant should be fed the expressed breast milk by a healthy caregiver.
This content was prepared by Ilona Goldfarb, MD, for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Date originally published: 3/20/2020
Most recently updated: 9/28/2021
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mass General has advanced the science and the quality of care for women since 1891.
The OB/GYN Department remains here for your health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some adjustments are necessary, however.
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Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19) for pregnant patients.
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