Pregnant women or recently pregnant women who are older, overweight, and have preexisting medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes seem to have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19. When pregnant women develop severe disease, they also seem to more often require care in intensive care units than non-pregnant women of reproductive age.
Due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty in breathing) to their healthcare provider.
WHO will continue to review and update its information and advice as more evidence becomes available.
Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other people. You can help protect yourself by:
- Washing your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Keeping space between yourself and others and avoiding crowded spaces. Wear a non-medical, fabric mask where it is not possible to keep sufficient physical distance between yourself and others.Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practicing respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
If you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call before going to a health facility, and follow the directions of your local health authority.
Pregnant women and women who have recently delivered should attend their routine care appointments, according to local policies and following adapted measures to reduce possible transmission of the virus.
Testing protocols and eligibility during pregnancy vary depending on where you live.
However, WHO recommendations are that pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 should be prioritized for testing. If they have COVID-19, they may need specialized care.
We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. To date, the active virus has not been found in samples of fluid around the baby in the womb or breastmilk.
All pregnant women and their newborns, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high quality care before, during and after childbirth, including mental health care.
A safe and positive childbirth experience includes:
- Being treated with respect and dignity;
- Having a companion of choice present during delivery;
- Clear communication by maternity staff;
- Appropriate pain relief strategies:
- Mobility in labour where possible, and birth position of choice.
If COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed, health workers should take all appropriate precautions to reduce risks of infection to themselves and others, including hand hygiene, and appropriate use of protective clothing like gloves, gown and medical mask.
No. WHO advice is that caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified.
The mode of birth should be individualized and based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.
Yes. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. You should be supported to
- Breastfeed safely, with good respiratory hygiene;
- Hold your newborn skin-to-skin, and
- Share a room with your baby
You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean. Mothers with symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to wear a medical mask, during any contact with the baby.
- Clinical management interim guidance
- Antenatal care guidelines for a positive pregnancy experience
- Intrapartum care guidelines for a positive childbirth experience
- Recommendations on non-clinical interventions to reduce unnecessary c-sections