Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): What You Need to Know About Its Impact on Moms and Babies
Updated May 13, 2021
What We Know About Covid-19
Coronavirus disease 2019, also called COVID-19, is a disease caused by a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 is a pandemic because this disease has spread to the U.S. and around the world. COVID-19 spreads easily between people, even when they have no symptoms. Public health and medical groups are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and providing regular updates.
Based on what we know at this time:
Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 compared with pregnant people without COVID-19. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the hospital or the intensive care unit (ICU).
Pregnant people with COVID-19 have a higher risk of preterm birth. They may also have a higher risk of other pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia/eclampsia, severe infections, blood clots, bleeding problems after birth, heart problems and cesarean (C-section) birth.
Research shows that the symptoms of COVID-19 may be worse for pregnant people who are older, who are affected by obesity or who have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or gestational diabetes.
Recent research shows that babies of pregnant people with COVID-19 may have more complications before and after birth.
Pregnant people and those living with them must take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19, by doing the following:
Wash their hands frequently
Keep at least 6 feet away from others
Limit being around people who may get COVID-19.
Pregnant and breastfeeding people who want to get the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to do so.
Pregnant people who experience social and health disparities are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19. They may also be at a higher risk of complications if they get COVID-19.
Most newborns born to people who have COVID-19 won’t get the virus. Some do, but we still don’t know if they got it before, during or after birth.
How it spreads:
Learn how the virus spreads and take measures to stay as safe as possible.
The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) for a total of 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period.
People who are infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others.
The virus spreads most commonly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sings, breathes, sneezes or talks.
Droplets can be large and visible or smaller and unseen. Small droplets also can form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.
Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
As the respiratory droplets travel further from the person with COVID-19, the concentration of these droplets decreases.
With passing time, the amount of infectious virus in respiratory droplets also decreases.
Some infections are spread by exposure to small droplets and particles that contain the virus and can linger in the air for minutes to hours. This means that people who are further than 6 feet apart can sometimes become infected.
The CDC publishes up-to-date information on the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. here.
Who is at risk of getting COVID-19
Everyone who is exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is at risk of being infected. The risk of getting COVID-19 is higher for people who:
Have close contact with other people (closer than 6 feet).
Spend more time with other people.
Spend time in crowds (more than 10 people).
Spend time in indoor spaces, especially if they don’t get a lot of fresh air.
Early research indicates that people who have a vitamin D deficiency may have an increased risk of being infected but more research is needed.
Who is at a higher risk for severe illness?
Adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant
Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher less than 40)
Severe Obesity (BMI of 40 or higher)
Sickle cell disease
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Based on what we know at this time, adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
Asthma (moderate to severe)
Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
High blood pressure
Weakened immune system from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
Overweight (BMI of more than 25 but less than 30)
Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Type 1 diabetes
COVID-19 is more likely to be severe among people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and among Black, Hispanic and Native American people, although more research is needed in this area. Additionally, recent studies suggest that COVID-19 symptoms are more severe among pregnant people than non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the hospital or the intensive care unit (ICU). Pregnant people with COVID-19 also may be more likely to need a ventilator to breathe compared with people who aren't pregnant.
If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider.
Mild symptoms to severe illness can appear within 2-14 days of being infected and include:
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
New loss of smell or taste
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Research has found that some pregnant people don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19, despite testing positive for the virus. More research is needed.This list does not include all of the possible symptoms. See the COVID-19 symptoms self-checker from the CDC.
Until you can get a vaccine, there are other ways to protect yourself and your family from exposure to the virus. The best way to prevent getting sick is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
It’s especially important to wash before eating or preparing food or touching your face, and after:
Using the restroom
Leaving a public place
Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
Handling your mask
Changing a diaper
Caring for someone who is sick
Touching animals or pets
Avoid close contact:
Avoid close contact inside your home with anyone who is sick or who may have been exposed to COVID-19. If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
Outside your home, put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household. Remember that some people without symptoms (asymptomatic) may be able to spread virus, so stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people.
Avoid crowded indoor spaces, like restaurants, bars and cafes.
Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Wearing a facemask or cloth face covering helps to protect you and those around you.
Cover your mouth and nose with a facemask when around others. You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Facemasks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
Make sure your facemask fits snugly against your face:
Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or at the sides of your facemask.
Choose a facemask with a nose wire. This is a small metal strip in the top part of the mask that you can bend over your nose to help the mask fit better.
Use a facemask fitter over your mask to help it fit better.
Knot and tuck the ear loops on a disposable facemask. You can do this by folding the facemask in half and making knots in the ear loops at the spots where they connect to the facemask. Then fold and tuck the extra material under the knots before putting the facemask on. Here’s a video that shows you how.
Choose a facemask with layers, or use two facemasks. This means wearing a cloth facemask that has several layers of fabric. Or wear a disposable facemask underneath a cloth facemask.
The CDC recommends not using a facemask with valves or vents. Do not use a facemask meant for a health care worker, like a surgical mask or N95 respirator, unless you work in a health care environment.
Everyone should wear a facemask in public and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when social distancing is difficult. Using a facemask is most important while in indoors and outdoors when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.
Facemasks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to take off the facemask without help.
Fit your facemask snugly against the sides of your face.
Wash your cloth facemask regularly, preferably in a washing machine.
Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The facemask is not a substitute for social distancing.
Cover coughs and sneezes:
Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Monitor your health daily:
Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
This is especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or to work, or in places where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
Take your temperature if symptoms develop. Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.
Keep up with your routine vaccines. Vaccines are an important part of protecting your health. Receiving some vaccines while you’re pregnant, like the influenza (flu) and Tdap vaccines, can help protect you and your baby. Talk with your provider about which vaccines you should get.
Eating a diet rich in nutrients also may help boost your immunity. A recent study recommends that pregnant people take micronutrient supplements and/or eat a variety of foods, including fresh vegetables and fruits, beans (legumes), grains (like high-fiber cereal), dairy products (like milk, yogurt and cheese), lean meat, fish, poultry and eggs.
What to do if infected:
If you have a fever or cough, you may have COVID-19. Call your health care provider and ask what you should do. You may also want to review the CDC’s self-checker tool.
Monitor your symptoms. If you notice any of the followings signs and symptoms, get medical care right away:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Constant pain or pressure in the chest
Unable to wake or stay awake
If you start feeling confused
Bluish lips or face
According to the CDC, most people have mild illness and may be able to recover at home. If you have mild symptoms, follow these recommendations to care for yourself and avoid spreading the disease to others:
Stay home except to get medical care. If you’re seeking medical care, don’t go to work, school, or public areas and avoid using public transportation or taxis (including ride-share services).
Call the medical facility before you arrive. Be sure to tell the staff that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help them take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. Put on a mask before you enter the facility.
Separate yourself from other people who live in your home. Stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets who live in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
Wear a facemask to cover your nose and mouth when you are around other people, even at home. The CDC says you may use a scarf or a bandana to cover your nose and mouth if a facemask is not available.
Clean your hands often. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm. Throw used tissues in the trash. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using a tissue. You also can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol. Use enough hand sanitizer so that it takes at least 20 seconds for your hands to dry.
Don’t share personal household items. Use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to wash dishes and utensils. Don’t share towels or bedding with other people or pets who live in your home. Wash these items thoroughly after each use.
Clean and disinfect objects in your isolation area every day. This includes areas you frequently touch and the bathroom you use. Your caregiver should clean other parts of the home outside of your isolation area. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. See the CDC’s complete disinfection guide for more information.
When can you be around others after having COVID-19?
If you think or know you had COVID-19 and had the symptoms of the virus, you can be around others after:
10 days since symptoms first appeared and
24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.
Loss of taste and smell may continue for weeks or months after you recover. You do not need to continue to isolate if you have quarantined for the recommended amount of time and these are the only symptoms that you still have.
Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others. However, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can be around others again based on your test results.
If you tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms:
If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after 10 days have passed since you had a positive test for COVID-19. Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others. However, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can be around others again based on your test results.
If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the advice above for “if you think or know you had COVID-19 and had symptoms.”
If you were severely ill with COVID-19 or have a severely weakened immune system (immunocompromised) due to a health condition or medication:
You might need to stay home longer than 10 days and up to 20 days after symptoms first appeared.
You may require testing to determine when you can be around others.
Talk to your health care provider for more information. If testing is available in your community, it may be recommended by your provider. Your provider will let you know if you can be around other people again based on the results of your testing.
Your doctor may work with an infectious disease expert or your local health department to determine if testing is necessary before you can be around others.
If you’ve been around a person with COVID-19 you may need to quarantine. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health and follow directions from their state or local health department. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19:
You should stay home for 14 days after the last time you were in contact with that person.
Your local health department sets guidelines for when quarantine can be shorter. This may include:
Stopping quarantine on day 7 if you tested for COVID-19 and received a negative test result. The test must be done on day 5 or later.
Stopping quarantine on day 10 if you don’t have any symptoms of the disease, even if you weren’t tested for COVID-19.
You do not need to quarantine if:
You had COVID-19 in the last 3 months, have recovered and continue not to have COVID-19 symptoms.
You have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and you don’t have symptoms.
Research shows that a person who has had COVID-19 and recovered it may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if you have recovered and are retested within 3 months of your first infection, you may continue to have a positive test result.
If you have recovered from COVID-19 and have new symptoms of the virus, you may need an evaluation for reinfection, especially if you’ve had close contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. You should isolate yourself from others and call your provider.
What Pregnant and Breastfeeding People Need to Know
Check out COVID-19 Things to know if you're pregnant fact sheet. (English, PDF)
Additional versions of this fact sheet are available in Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Hindi, Hmong, Vietnamese. Arabic Farsi, HYE (Armenian), Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Tagalog, Mixteca Baja.
Translated documents are courtesy of Anthem.
Can you give COVID-19 to your baby during pregnancy?
It’s not clear whether a pregnant person with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to the baby.
After birth, a newborn can become infected after being in close contact with an infected person, including parents or other caregivers. A small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after they were born. However, it is not clear whether these babies became infected before, during or after birth.
Some recent research suggests that pregnant people who have COVID-19 two or more months before birth may pass on protective COVID-19 antibodies to their newborns.
Read more from CDC about pregnancy and COVID-19.
The CDC recommends testing all newborns for COVID-19 who are born to people with COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected).
What complications can COVID-19 cause for me or my baby?
What we know:
Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 compared with pregnant people without COVID-19. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the hospital or the intensive care unit (ICU).
Recent research shows that there may be an increased risk of preterm birth and other complications among pregnant people with COVID-19. If you’re affected by preterm labor and COVID-19, your doctor will consider the risks and benefits of medicines called corticosteroids. These medicines are sometimes used in pregnant people to help prevent preterm birth. But research suggests that certain people taking corticosteroids may be a higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19.
In addition to preterm birth, data suggests that pregnant people with COVID-19 may have a higher risk for pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia/eclampsia, severe infections, blood clots, bleeding problems after birth, heart problems and cesarean (C-section) birth.
Recent research shows that babies of pregnant people with COVID-19 may have more complications before and after birth.
High fevers caused by any infection during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, you may experience increased depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy. Be sure to tell your provider about any thoughts or feelings that you may have.
What do we know about COVID-19 and babies
Recent data shows that symptoms of COVID-19 are less severe in babies and children than in adults. However, among babies and children, babies younger than one year of age are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Newborns. Most newborns who have tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and have recovered fully. However, there are some reports of newborns who became very sick.
Children. Most children who have COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms. Based on limited data, the risk of serious problems in children with COVID-19 appears to be low. Children who have certain medical conditions, such as asthma; chronic lung disease; diabetes; genetic, neurologic or metabolic conditions; heart disease since birth; weakened immune system; multiple chronic conditions that affect many parts of the body; or obesity may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. The CDC and others are investigating a rare but serious medical condition associated with COVID-19 in children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). We do not yet know what causes MIS-C and who is at increased risk for developing it. Learn more about MIS-C.
How can you protect your pregnancy and future baby
Don’t skip your prenatal or postpartum care appointments. Visit your healthcare provider for all recommended appointments or ask your health care provider for virtual prenatal visits and off-hour visits for ultrasounds and lab testing.
Make sure that you have at least a 30-day supply of your medicines.
Get recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine. You may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your provider if you have questions.
Talk to your health care provider about how to stay healthy and take care of yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes maintaining a healthy weight before and during pregnancy and managing any chronic health condition such as diabetes.
If you don’t have a provider, contact your nearest community health center or health department.
Call your provider if you have any questions related to your health.
Seek care immediately if you have a medical emergency.
How can you get ready for labor and delivery
Call your hospital or birth center and ask them about any restrictions they have on the number of support persons (e.g. doula, spouses, family) allowed in the room during labor and delivery.
Update your Birth Plan by using our template here. Additional versions of this Birth Plan are available in Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Hindi, Hmong, Vietnamese, Arabic, Farsi, HYE (Armenian), Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, Mixtec. (Translated documents are courtesy of Anthem.)
If you are in labor and you have, or think may have COVID-19, call the hospital before you go so the staff can properly prepare and protect your baby and others from being infected.
If you have or may COVID-19, how can a hospital protect your baby after birth?
Babies born to people who have COVID-19 are tested for the virus whether they have signs of infection or not.
CDC says that the risk of your newborn getting COVID-19 from you is low. Decide with your health care provider if your baby should stay in your room with you or not. You can reduce the chances of your baby becoming infected by keeping 6 feet distance when not directly caring for your baby, and by washing your hands thoroughly and wearing a facemask when you have contact with your baby.
Your provider may recommend that you stay in a separate room from your newborn if you are very sick with COVID-19 and cannot care for your baby safely.
Your providers may suggest other precautions, like keeping a curtain between you and your baby or placing the newborn in an incubator while in the hospital.
If your isolation period for COVID-19 has ended, you should still wash your hands before caring for your newborn, but you don't need to take the other precautions. You most likely won't pass the virus to your newborn or any other close contacts after your isolation period has ended.
So far, the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in the breast milk of people with COVID-19.
Breast milk is the best food for babies in the first year of life. It helps them grow healthy and strong and protects them from infections and illness.
Breast milk has antibodies that help protect your baby from many illnesses. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection. Breastfed babies have fewer health problems than babies who aren’t breastfed.
Research shows that the breast milk of people with COVID-19 may contain antibodies.
If you have COVID-19 and you choose to breastfeed:
Use a facemask to cover your face and nose
Wash your hands and breast thoroughly before and after touching your baby
Properly clean your breast pump and the surfaces you touch
If rooming-in, keep your newborn 6 feet away from you when you’re not directly caring for your baby
You can also use a breast pump to express your breast milk. Wash your hands thoroughly before using the pump. A healthy caregiver can feed the breast milk to your baby.
Dealing with stress
Take care of yourself. We are living through a public health emergency. Research shows that the pandemic has created a lot of stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression for pregnant people and new parents around the world. Caring for a new baby during a pandemic while also feeling sore, tired and stressed can be a lot to handle. But there are several things you can do to care for yourself:
Take periodic breaks from watching or listening to the pandemic news stories or going on social media to help reduce anxiety.
Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family members and friends how you’re feeling.
While COVID-19 has changed the way daily life looks for us, there are things you can do to help keep a routine. Every day, take a shower, eat healthy foods and regular meals, drink plenty of water and get a good night’s sleep.
Know you are not alone. Staying connected with friends and family in a virtual way is important. Reach out, share your story and talk to other expecting and new parents online. Visit share.marchofdimes.org to learn more.
Tell your provider if you feel very sad or depressed. Your provider may be able to help connect you with a social worker, counselor or therapist who offers tele-therapy or other mental health services. Or contact the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
What we know about the COVID-19 vaccines
At least three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several more are under development.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that one of the vaccines currently approved for emergency use can be used in people ages 12 and older for the prevention of COVID-19, and the other two vaccines can be used in people ages 18 and older.
Two of the current vaccines use mRNA technology. They do not contain a live virus.
The third vaccine uses viral vector technology. It contains a harmless version of a type of virus called an adenovirus. The adenovirus used in the vaccine cannot cause an infection. There have been some reports of a rare type of blood clot in a very small number of people receiving the vaccine in the U.S., particularly in women under age 50. This risk has not been seen in the mRNA vaccines. The CDC and FDA have determined that this risk is very low and the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
All of the current vaccines give the body’s cells instructions that help the immune system fight COVID-19.
Pregnant and breastfeeding people were not included in the original COVID-19 vaccine trials, although some participants became pregnant while in the trial. Trials are now testing the vaccine in pregnant people.
So far, research has shown that the mRNA vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant people. As of now, there’s no evidence that the antibodies your body makes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can cause any problem with pregnancy.
The FDA and CDC have systems in place to monitor safety in pregnant people who get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can enroll in safety monitoring systems such as the CDC’s V-safe program, which is a smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker.
According to the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), pregnant and breastfeeding people may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recent research has shown that pregnant people who get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy can pass protective COVID-19 antibodies to their babies. Researchers continue to study the best vaccination timing for passing antibodies to babies. Studies also have shown that the breast milk of people who get the vaccine may contain COVID-19 antibodies.
As of now, there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility.
There’s no need to delay pregnancy after getting the vaccine.
Experts believe that the benefits of pregnant people getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any potential concerns.
Read March of Dimes's statement on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pregnant and Lactating People.
Getting the vaccine
Talk to your provider if you have any concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It is your decision.
With the two mRNA vaccines, you need 2 doses. A second shot a few weeks after your first shot is needed to get the most protection.
It’s best to avoid getting other vaccines for at least 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, unless your provider says that another vaccine is necessary during that time.
After you get the vaccine, you may have some side effects. Side effects may feel like you have the flu and may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. This is a normal sign that your body is building protection.
So far, millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the U.S. Some people have had no side effects. Many people have had mild side effects. The CDC reports that severe reactions are rare.
Talk with your provider about the benefits and risks of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are fully vaccinated
The CDC says you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving your final dose of the vaccine. If the vaccine you get has 2 doses, that means 2 weeks after the second dose. If the vaccine you get has just 1 dose, that means 2 weeks after that dose. See the updated recommendations for people who have been vaccinated.
What Families with a Baby in the NICU Need to Know
Each hospital has specific rules about who and how many people can be in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at one time. Ask the NICU staff about these rules and make sure you follow them.
Practice social distancing any time you are outside of the NICU and only leave your home for essential needs. Inside the hospital, practice social distancing with other adults as much as possible.
Take care of yourself. COVID-19 is a public health emergency that is creating a lot of stress, fear and anxiety in families across the U.S. The stress of having a baby in the NICU may be increased by the public health emergency and possible restrictions on being with your baby. But there are several things you can do to care for yourself:
Take breaks from watching or listening to the news stories or going on social media to help reduce anxiety.
Keep in touch with people you care about and who care about you. Tell your partner, family and friends how you’re feeling.
While COVID-19 has changed a lot about our daily lives, you can still keep a routine. Every day, take a shower, eat healthy foods and regular meals, drink plenty of water and get a good night’s sleep.
Know you’re not alone. Share your story and talk to other NICU families online. Click here to learn more.
Bond with your baby. Some of the most important ways you can begin to bond with your baby are holding them, providing skin-to-skin care and feeding them. Other ways of bonding include singing, talking or reading softly and gently touching your baby. Ask your NICU staff about the best way to bond with your baby right now.
If you have or may have COVID-19, you may not be able to be with your baby. Temporary separation may be needed to avoid getting your baby sick. Call them and ask about what rules they have to protect your baby from getting COVID-19. If you and your baby are able to be together, wash your hands thoroughly and wear a facemask before and while spending time with your baby to reduce the chances of getting your baby infected. If you can’t be in the NICU ask the NICU staff about ways to connect with your baby during this time.
If you are temporarily separated from your baby and you want to breastfeed, you can express breast milk for your baby. Talk with your NICU about any rules you need to follow. If you are able to provide breast milk you can use a breast pump to express your breast milk. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the pump and bottle parts, and clean all parts after each use. A healthy caregiver can feed the breast milk to your baby.
How to help older children cope
You may wonder how you’re going to help your children cope when you’re having trouble coping yourself. You may also wonder how you will find time for your other children when your baby needs you, too. There are a lot of things you can do to help your older children:
Be honest with them. Your older children may have a lot of questions but may not know how to ask them. Tell them what’s going on with you and with their baby in words they can understand.
Calm your children’s worries. Some children are scared that their parents will love them less now that the new baby is here. Tell your children that you love them very much and describe what makes them special. If they’re old enough, you can talk with them about COVID-19 and how it’s affecting your family’s routine. Recent research shows that children and teens under 18, possibly may not be more likely to get COVID-19 if they attend daycare or school in-person. The CDC has a checklist to help you plan for in-person school.
Create an activity that will help them feel part of their sibling’s care. Below are some activities your children can do at home to help care for the baby while they’re in the NICU. Ask your NICU staff before bringing any items into the NICU:
Color pictures to put up near the baby’s bed.
Pick a favorite photo of themselves or the family to have near the baby’s bed.
Put together a photo album of pictures of the baby.
Create a storybook about the birth of their baby brother or sister.
Help get the nursery ready for when the baby comes home.
Find the latest information about COVID-19:
Learn more about the disease and advice for pregnant people and families on our blog at newsmomsneed.org.
Stay up-to-date on upcoming events at marchforbabies.org or by calling us at 888-663-4637.
March of Dimes follows the COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from the CDC. You can view real-time updates on the disease, guidance for pregnant people and travel advisories at here.
Mom and Baby COVID-19 Intervention and Support Fund
March of Dimes established the Mom and Baby COVID-19 Intervention and Support Fund to address the urgent need for research, advocacy and education to protect moms, babies and families from COVID-19 and the unknown future effects of the virus.
Learn more about how you can support The Fund.