COVID-19 Q&A: Pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for yourself and your newborn at home

If you’re pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have questions or concerns about your upcoming delivery in the hospital and keeping yourself and your family healthy. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about pregnancy, childbirth, and guidance for when you go home from the hospital.

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Can I pass the virus that causes COVID 19 to my baby?
We still don’t know if you can pass COVID-19 to your baby during pregnancy or delivery. So far, no babies born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for the virus at the time of their birth.  Fortunately, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

If I have COVID-19 during my pregnancy, will it hurt my baby?
We don’t know at this time of any direct risk for your baby from COVID-19 during your pregnancy. Some complications of pregnancy, like preterm birth, may be more common in pregnancies complicated by COVID -19 and this can cause problems for babies. Fortunately, there have been no birth defects detected due to COVID-19 infection during pregnancy.

Childbirth and delivery

Should I be worried about delivering my baby in the hospital?
No. Intermountain Healthcare is committed to making sure that you and your baby have the safest birthing experience possible. We’re taking every necessary precaution against exposure to COVID-19 to ensure the risk is extremely low. We’ve also prepared for any other potential complications of pregnancy that, even if rare, can cause concern.  


 

What should I do to prepare for my delivery?
For most healthy women, their delivery experience will be the same, except for the change in hospital visitor restrictions. The hospital limits visitors to one other healthy adult for the duration of the hospital stay. Help your family and friends know that although they are excited to see your new baby, it will be best to wait until you and the baby come home and risks of infection are lower following the pandemic. Encourage loved ones to use technology to connect with your during your hospital stay if desired. Hospital staff are available to assist if needed.

Women who are themselves positive for COVID-19, or who are suspected to have it, will not be able to have visitors in the room during their stay to limit the chances of viral exposure. Experienced hospital staff are ready to help you during this important time in a way that is both safe and comfortable.

Do I need to be delivered early if I’m COVID-19 positive (or suspected to have the virus)?
No. The COVID-19 infection is not a reason for an early delivery. In fact, it may be better to wait for your delivery until after your symptoms have resolved and you are no longer shedding the virus. This may reduce the risk to your newborn and healthcare workers from becoming exposed to the virus too.

At this time, some women are still being offered the option to have their labor induced. This usually occurs if there is an increased risk to the mother or baby from continuing the pregnancy. We will continue to offer normal obstetric care based on the usual indications. We don’t recommend early delivery to avoid exposure to the virus.

If I do get sick, how do I protect my newborn?
If you do get sick near your delivery date with confirmed, or suspected, COVID-19, there are special precautions to be aware of. Though new mothers might not be at higher risk themselves, it’s important to avoid passing the virus to a newborn. Early research has not shown any evidence that the virus can be transmitted in utero, during delivery, or through breast milk. But transmission can occur after birth when infants are in close contact with someone who has the illness. For this reason, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends avoiding rooming-in (baby sharing the same room) for new mothers with diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 infections. The CDC also recommends that ill women who would like to provide breast milk for their infant use a breast pump, being sure to practice good pumping hygiene.

What happens to my baby after delivery if I have tested positive for COVID-19 or have results pending?
If you have confirmed COVID-19 or have results pending, then your baby is at risk of becoming infected after delivery. In order to protect your baby, your baby will stay in a separate room under the care of your spouse or partner (if healthy) or a nurse as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.  You and your baby will have separate rooms until the risk of your baby becoming infected has ended.  This usually happens when your symptoms have gotten better (for at least 3 days) or until you have 2 negative tests for the virus yourself.  If both you and your baby test positive for the COVID-19 virus, we will teach you how to care for your baby and what symptoms to watch for to know if you or your baby are getting sicker.

If my baby is infected with COVID-19 will it be at increased risk for complications?
We don’t know if COVID-19 increases the risk for severe complications in your baby. We are still trying to learn what problems, if any, your baby may have due to exposure. We believe that your baby can become infected by your respiratory droplets (small drops of fluid that are released when you cough or sneeze and may contain the virus), so we need to keep your baby in a different room to decrease the risk of infection. Intermountain is committed to complete viral testing for you and your baby as soon as possible.

What if I am not willing to be separated from my baby?
The best way to keep your baby safe is by keeping you and your baby in different rooms to avoid infection with the COVID-19 virus. If you feel that you can’t be separated from your baby, we will try to make it as safe as possible for you and your baby in the same room.  However, you will need to do a few important things:

  • You must wear personal protective equipment or PPE (this includes a gown, gloves, and a facemask) before coming in contact with your baby.  You must wear the facemask at all times that you are around your baby.
  • You must wash your hands before and after contact with your baby
  • You should pump your breast milk and have your spouse or partner (if they are healthy) feed the baby. If you choose to breastfeed, we recommended that you wash your breast and hands with soap and water prior to putting your baby to breast.
  • Keep your baby in an open crib more than 6 feet away from you.
  • If no other healthy adult is present in your room to care for your baby, you should put on a facemask and carefully wash your hands before each feeding or other close contact with your baby

Continue these precautions until you leave the hospital and at home until your doctor says it is alright to stop.

Caring for yourself and your newborn if you have COVID-19

Can you or your baby be discharged from the hospital if you or your baby have tested positive for COVID-19 or have a pending COVID-19 test?
Both you and your baby can be discharged from the hospital whenever your providers feel it is safe. Although infants and children are at low risk for severe symptoms, they can still be infected and pass the virus onto others. Therefore, pre-cautions should be taken at home as directed by your health care provider and your child’s pediatrician. General recommendations include:

  • Household members should stay in another room or be separated from you and your baby as much as possible.
  • Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
  • Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick. For more information, see COVID-19 and Animals.
  • Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used first if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • You should wear a facemask when you are around other people. If you aren’t able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), you, as the caregiver, should wear a mask when you are in the same room as other people.
  • Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the infected person’s blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine.
    • Throw out disposable facemasks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
    • When removing personal protective equipment, first remove and dispose of gloves. Then, immediately clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Next, remove and dispose of facemask, and immediately clean your hands again with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid sharing household items with the infected person You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly (see below “Wash laundry thoroughly”).
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
    • Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly.
    • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
    • Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
    • Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  • Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department or healthcare provider. Check available hours when contacting your local health department.

What do you do if you think you are getting sicker or your baby is getting sick?
After going home, you and your family members should monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms you may experience include fever, runny nose, shortness of breath, dry cough, nausea, vomiting and occasional diarrhea. 

Although many infants have few or no symptoms of COVID19, you should watch your baby for fever, difficulty breathing, poor feeding, and less activity. If your baby has a fever and/or your concerned that your baby is developing any of these symptoms you need to contact your baby’s doctor immediately and tell them that you or your baby has been tested for COVID-19. It is important to tell your healthcare provider so they can help keep you, your baby and your community safe. 

If you or your baby have a medical emergency, please call 911, and notify the dispatch personnel that you or your baby are being evaluated for COVID -19.