COVID-19 and Pregnancy
Are pregnant women at higher risk?
Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID-19 infection on pregnant women. Data is limited, but at present there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population.
However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.
I’m pregnant? How can I protect myself?
Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. You can help protect yourself by:
Should pregnant women be tested for COVID-19?
Testing protocols and eligibility vary depending on where you live.
However, World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations are that pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 should be prioritized for testing. If they have COVID-19, they may need specialized care.
Can COVID-19 be passed from a woman to her unborn or newly born baby?
We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
What care should be available during pregnancy and childbirth?
All pregnant women, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections have the right to high quality care before, during and after childbirth. This includes antenatal, newborn, postnatal, intrapartum and mental health care.
A safe and positive childbirth experience includes:
If COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed, health workers should take all appropriate precautions to reduce risks of infection to themselves and others, including hand hygiene, and appropriate use of protective clothing like gloves, gown and medical mask.
Do pregnant women with suspected or contracted COVID-19 have to give birth by Caesarean section?
No. WHO advice is that Caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified.
The mode of birth should be individualized and based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
Can I touch or hold my newborn baby if I have COVID-19?
Yes. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. You should be supported to:
You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean.
Information taken from the World Health Organization (WHO)