March 27, 2020

Can COVID-19 Cause Problems for Pregnancy?

Right now, it’s not known if COVID-19 causes problems during pregnancy or affects the health of the baby after birth.

In a recent webinar put on by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they shared their findings from evaluating the health data from 34 women in China diagnosed with COVID-19 in the third trimester. They reported that women with COVID-19 have a greater risk of premature delivery and, on average, give birth around four weeks before their due date.

In more severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, which is a concern for pregnant women because their lung capacity is already diminished. 

Can Pregnant Women Pass COVID-19 to Their Babies?

Based on limited information, it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 is passed from mother to fetus in the womb. 

How Can Pregnant Women Protect Themselves from Getting COVID-19?

Pregnant women should do everything the general public is doing to avoid getting infected with COVID-19, including:

  • Cover your cough with your elbow
  • Practice social distancing
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from COVID-19.

Can COVID-19 Be Transmitted Through Breast Milk?

While COVID-19 is mainly thought to be transmitted person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or touching an infected surface,  it’s not known if mothers with COVID-19 can spread the disease through breast milk. In limited studies on women with COVID-19, the virus hasn’t been detected in breast milk.

According to the CDC, a mother who has COVID-19 or who’s symptomatic 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 while the baby is feeding.

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The Bottom Line

Even though the research on how COVID-19 impacts pregnancy is limited, health experts are saying that the data they do have is reassuring:

  • The virus doesn’t seem to spread though the womb
  • With one exception in the UK, all newborns have tested negative for COVID-19
  • Pregnant women don’t appear to be any sicker than non-pregnant women

Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, make sure to keep up on all current updates from the CDC. 

Reach out to our Mother & Baby Care specialists if you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 during pregnancy and need professional medical advice.


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