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COVID-19 Information for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers

By Joyce Friedman RN, WHNP-BC

Based on information last updated by the CDC on April 3rd 2020

My patients did not plan on being pregnant during a pandemic. COVID-19 is new and we are learning more about the virus on a daily basis. The medical community does not yet know if pregnant women have a higher rate of getting sick or developing severe illness when exposed than someone of the same age in the general public.  

What we do know is that these simple guidelines can protect yourself and those around you. These are the same guidelines given to the general public. Precautions include:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Avoid contact within 6 feet of others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol based cleanser frequently, for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Wear a cloth face cover if you have to go out in public. Wearing plastic gloves is advisable too.
    • A face cover should not be a substitute from social distancing. Maintain a distance of 6 feet or more between yourself and others.

Please Note: We believe that individuals who are asymptomatic (experience NO symptoms at all) can be infected with Covid-19 and transmit the virus to others. That means that you can spread Covid-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. AND you can be exposed to COVID-19 by someone who seems well.

Pregnant Women

We believe that pregnant women have the same risk of getting sick as the general population of the same age group.

However, according to the CDC it is possible that changes to a pregnant woman’s body may increase her risk of certain infections. We also know that pregnant women who have contracted similar respiratory illnesses are more likely to develop severe symptoms.

In order to avoid illness, pregnant mothers should:

  • Avoid anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid anyone who may have come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus.
  • Clean hands often with alcohol based sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Avoid going to public places and large gatherings.
  • Stay within your nuclear family unit.

Pregnant woman should always take extra care to promote hand-hygiene to protect themselves from illness.

Mothers of Newborns

Transmission during pregnancy seems to be unlikely.  There have been infants who tested positive for the virus after birth, but it is not clear at what point the virus was transmitted. Covid-19 can, however, be transmitted to newborn infants. Though the virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid samples (from pregnancy) or breast-milk. A mother of a newborn who tests positive for Covid-19 should wash hands thoroughly and wear a face mask whenever handling her baby.

Nursing a Newborn when the Mother is Positive for Covid-19

Breast milk provides protection to the newborn infant against many infections and diseases.  We do not for certain if mothers can spread the virus via breastmilk. It is recommended that nursing mothers wash their hands thoroughly and wear a face mask during each feed. If a mother is sick and chooses to express (pump) breast milk instead, she should wash her hands thoroughly with soap and water before each feed, and properly sanitize the equipment after each use. If possible, another person who is well should feed the bottle to the baby.

Telehealth Visits

At RefuahHealth we are doing everything we can to bring our Women’s Health Services to the comfort and safety at your home. We provide telehealth (video conference or telephone visits, based on patient’s ability) to both Gynecology and Obstetric patients.  Some of these services include:

  • Obstetric “non-essential” visits
  • Post-Partum Exams
  • Cycle Regulation
  • Medication management
  • Contraception Management
  • Gynecologic infection/symptom management

Talk to our Women’s Health team to see if telehealth visits can be beneficial for you!