COVID-19 and Pregnancy

BIDMC Contributor

AUGUST 23, 2021

Pregnant woman uses laptop while child plays in background

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we know patients who are pregnant or individuals thinking about becoming pregnant may have additional questions about staying healthy, getting vaccinated and delivering at the hospital. At BIDMC, we have created safe and convenient ways to care for you throughout your pregnancy and invite you to attend our monthly virtual Q&A hotline to speak directly with our obstetric and childbirth education experts and ask questions.

Check out some additional information and advice for expecting parents below. If you have specific health concerns, please reach out to your obstetric provider.

Am I more likely to get COVID-19 during pregnancy?

People who are pregnant seem to contract COVID-19 at similar rates to people who are not pregnant. However, due to normal changes in pregnancy, you may be more likely to become very sick from viral infections.

Does getting COVID-19 cause pregnancy complications?

Individuals who are pregnant are at higher risk of becoming very ill from COVID-19. Studies have shown people who are pregnant are more likely to be hospitalized, require intensive care, need a ventilator or breathing tube, and are at an increased risk of death from COVID-19 compared to those who are not pregnant.

Delivery is sometimes needed to improve breathing of the pregnant patient and for this reason, preterm birth is more frequent in pregnancies complicated by COVID-19. Premature babies face the risk of life-threatening complications.

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect against the potential harm of COVID-19. The vaccine is recommended during pregnancy, for individuals who are lactating, and for those who are thinking about becoming pregnant soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all strongly agree on this recommendation.

Read more about how the vaccine protects you and your baby.

Other ways of staying healthy and avoiding infection during pregnancy include wearing a mask or face covering, cleaning your hands often, and avoiding gatherings of people. Although it will not protect against COVID-19, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever and safe to do in pregnancy.

Is it safe for me to come to the hospital right now? I'm worried that I might get infected by being there.

Hospitals, including labor and delivery units, are taking extraordinary precautions to keep our patients and staff healthy. This includes wearing special equipment, symptom screenings for both patients and staff, and a limit on visitors. Read BIDMC’s visitor guidelines for obstetric and labor & delivery units.

If I have COVID-19, will I need a c-section?

Typically, no. For women who are only mildly symptomatic, there is no evidence that this would help you or your baby. Your doctor may recommend a c-section for another reason not related to COVID-19. It is possible that patients who become very sick with COVID-19 may not be able to tolerate a long labor.

Can I breastfeed if I have COVID-19?

Yes. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Limited studies have not found the virus in breast milk and your breast milk may provide antibodies to help protect your newborn. If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, precautions to avoid spreading the virus include washing hands before touching your baby and wearing a mask. If you choose to express breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and clean the pump and parts after each use. Consider having someone who is not sick feed your baby the pumped milk.

Visit the CDC's website for the most up-to-date information about breastfeeding precautions for COVID-19.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you have fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of your sense of smell, or exposure to someone with known COVID-19, you should call your OB/GYN's office. Your provider will tell you if you need to come to the hospital or stay at home. Most people will be able to stay at home and monitor their symptoms.

Is there anything else I should be asking?

We recognize that delivering a baby right now may cause anxiety; this is a natural reflection of love for your growing family. We remain committed to keeping you and your family safe and to preserving the joy of childbirth. We invite all expecting parents to join us for our monthly virtual Q&A hotline to speak directly with our obstetric and childbirth education experts and ask questions. 

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

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