Pregnancy and COVID-19: What you need to know before, during and after labor and delivery

Northwestern Medicine
Women's Health March 23, 2020

Attribute to: Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, vice chair for clinical research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) – Center for Health Equity Transformation at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an obstetrician/gynecologist at Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital

For a .pdf of this article click here.

Is it safe to deliver a baby at a hospital with COVID-19 happening?

We are taking all precautions to ensure that everyone who is delivering a baby is in a safe space. Those who are pregnant and who have any signs of influenza or coronavirus like symptoms are being placed in a safe, separate area that is not in contact with moms who are in labor without any symptoms.

What can I do to protect myself, my unborn child and then, after birth, a newborn at home?

Universal good hygiene precautions are the most important, which means please wash your hands with soap. Wash all sides of your hands and all fingers and please don’t forget your thumbs! Wash for at least 20 seconds - sing happy birthday or the ABC’s twice.

Your unborn child at this point is safe from coronavirus until it is born. We do not have any data at this point that would suggest that COVID-19 is passed through the placenta. Once the baby is born, if you are not symptomatic, just continue to wash your hands well. Do not let anyone with flu-like symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever (> or = to 100.4 degrees F) or gastrointestinal symptoms) go near the baby. If you have these symptoms as a parent, please wear a mask when in contact with the baby and again don’t forget to practice good hand hygiene.

Is it safe to breastfeed? What about pump breastmilk?

It is still safe to breastfeed and/or pump. We do not have any data that suggest coronavirus is passed through breast milk. Again, it is important to practice good hand hygiene, and thoroughly wash down all the breast pump components and the bottles/nipples. If you have any symptoms, please wear a mask when breast feeding in addition to the above.​

As always, please contact your healthcare provider if you are having any symptoms so you can be triaged appropriately to either come in to the clinic or to stay home.

I just had a baby and am feeling really anxious about everything. What do I do?

This is a really important question. It is normal to feel anxious after giving birth at any time, but especially now given the coronavirus outbreak. You are definitely not alone. If you are feeling this way, please reach out to your obstetrical care provider. They can walk you through some options, including available counseling, which is now available in some areas via Telehealth options such as video conferencing.

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