Coronavirus and pregnancy
We are still learning about coronavirus (COVID-19). We don’t yet know how it affects pregnant women and their babies.
High temperature during pregnancy
One of the symptoms of coronavirus is fever (high temperature). This can increase the risk of complications during the first trimester (week 0 to 13).
If you have a high temperature and you are pregnant inform a doctor or seek help from a nearby hospital.
Protect yourself during pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your body naturally weakens your immune system. This is to help your pregnancy continue successfully. It means that when you are pregnant you may pick up infections more easily.
The people caring for you should involve you in all decisions.
If you have coronavirus, there are extra precautions they will need to take before, during and after your baby’s birth. Your obstetrician or midwife should talk to you about the safest way and time for your baby to be born.
Other expert doctors may also be involved in your care. These might include a doctor who specialise in infectious diseases and a neonatologist. This is a doctor who specialise in the care of newborn babies.
During birth and labour
You will not have to wear a facemask during labour and birth. But you will need to wear a surgical mask when you’re outside your room.
Other than your doctor or midwife, only one other person may stay with you for the delivery. This could be a partner or family member. They will need to wear protective equipment to minimise the risk of infection.
After the birth
If you have coronavirus, a doctor or midwife will discuss your options for after your baby is born.
One option may be to arrange for someone else to care for the baby while you wait for coronavirus to pass. This is to protect your baby from catching the virus.
A family member or a healthcare worker can provide this care. This could be provided at home or in the hospital. How long this lasts for will vary. The advice will depend on your symptoms and the results of any tests you have had.
Caring for your baby
If you choose to care for your baby after the birth, your doctor or midwife will explain the risk to your baby.
You and your baby will then be isolated in a single room with an en-suite bathroom. Your baby will be in an enclosed incubator in your room. An incubator is a special crib made of plastic, it keeps your baby warm. You will be able to see your baby in the incubator.
When your baby is outside the incubator for breastfeeding, bathing or caring you will need to:
- wear a long-sleeved gown and surgical mask
- clean your hands properly and often with soap and water or alcohol rub – before and after interacting with your baby
Your baby should be observed for signs of infection. This will be for at least 14 days after the last contact with you. If your baby develops any signs of infection, they will need to be tested.
You will be advised about how many visitors you and your baby can have. In some cases, this might be just you and your partner. All visitors will need to wear protective equipment to wear.
If you have coronavirus and you are caring for your baby, you will be encouraged to breastfeed as normal.
You may decide to express breast milk so that someone else can feed your baby. This is usually your partner or a close family member. You might do this if you feel too unwell to breastfeed. Your healthcare team may also advise you that this is the safest way to feed your baby.
If you breastfeed
- Wash your hands properly before touching your baby or any breastfeeding equipment like pumps or bottles.
- Wear a face mask if you are doing breast or bottle feeds yourself.
- Ask your midwife or other staff to show you how to clean the pump after each use.