Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): What You Need to Know About Its Impact on Moms and Babies
Updated March 10, 2022
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 around the world. COVID-19 spreads easily between unvaccinated people, even when they have no symptoms. Public health and medical groups are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts, and they are providing regular updates. Based on what we know at this time:
What do we know about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy?
Get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. CDC urges people who are pregnant, who were recently pregnant, who are trying to get pregnant and who might become pregnant in the future to get vaccinated. Vaccines are also recommended for people who are lactating. These recommendations align with those from medical organizations such as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM). Ask your provider any questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.
May protect your baby from COVID-19. Pregnant and breastfeeding people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 produce antibodies that could protect their babies from COVID-19. These antibodies are present in the placenta and breastmilk. New research shows that getting the mRNA vaccine during pregnancy may help prevent hospitalization with COVID-19 in babies younger than 6 months old.
No higher risk of miscarriage. Preliminary data found that pregnant people who received the mRNA vaccine did not have an increased risk for miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 20 weeks).
No association with preterm birth. A large study from the CDC found no relationship between COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and preterm birth. The study also found that there is no increased risk of having a baby small for gestational age (SGA). A baby who is SGA didn’t gain the right amount of weight before birth.
No fertility problems. Recent research shows that the COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility in women or men.
Safe and effective. Research shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in pregnant people.
Research shows that fully vaccinated people have a much lower risk of getting COVID-19, especially if they receive a booster when eligible. But sometimes people who are vaccinated may get COVID-19. In these cases, there may be no symptoms or the symptoms may be milder and they may have shorter illness. Research also shows a reduced risk of hospitalization in vaccinated people who get COVID-19. You can get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the past.
What are the risks related to COVID-19 and pregnancy?
Pregnant people and those who were recently pregnant people face serious risk if they get COVID-19, especially if they are unvaccinated. These risks include:
Higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19
More likely to be admitted to the hospital or the intensive care unit (ICU), and more likely to need a ventilator or special equipment to help them breathe
Higher risk of preterm birth, stillbirth, preeclampsia/eclampsia, severe infections, blood clots, bleeding problems after birth, heart problems and cesarean (C-section) birth
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, lung disease, diabetes or gestational diabetes.
Babies of pregnant people with COVID-19 may have more complications before and after birth, including being admitted to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
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. One recent study showed that Hispanic women are 2.4 times more likely to get COVID-19 during pregnancy. Another recent study that pregnant people with COVID-19 had higher rates of preterm birth, especially among American Indian/Alaska Native people.
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:
The COVID-19 virus spreads when an infected person breathes out respiratory droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. It can spread by:
Breathing in air close to an infected person
Having the small droplets and particles containing the virus land on your eyes, nose or mouth, especially when an infected person coughs or sneezes
Touching your eyes, nose or mouth when your hands have the virus on them
Some research suggests that people who have a vitamin D deficiency may have an increased risk of being infected, but more research is needed.
The CDC publishes up-to-date information on the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. here.
Who is at a higher risk for severe illness?
Adults of any age with the following conditions and risk factors are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
Pregnancy and recent pregnancy
Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic liver disease
Chronic lung disease, such as asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Diabetes (type 1 or 2)
Disabilities, such as intellectual and developmental disabilities
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
Mental health conditions, such as depression and schizophrenia
Neurological conditions, such as dementia
Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
Primary immune disorders
Weakened immune system from solid organ transplant or stem cell transplant
Use of corticosteroids or other immune-suppressing medicines
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:
Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency (a genetic disorder)
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (a form of chronic lung disease)
Hepatitis B or C
High blood pressure
Overweight (BMI of more than 25 but less than 30)
Sickle cell disease
Substance use disorders
Thalassemia (a blood disorder)
In addition, children may be with certain underlying conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Recent research also shows that people who have vitamin D deficiency may be at greater risk for severe COVID-19.
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.
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
Muscle or body aches
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.
What we know about variants
Viruses often change through mutations. Mutations can create variants, which are different versions of a virus. Sometime variants disappear, and other times they spread.
There are several variants of the COVID-19 virus, including the Alpha variant, the Delta variant, and the Omicron variant. As of now most new infections are being caused by the Omicron variant. Here’s what experts know about the Omicron variant:
Data has shown the Omicron variant to be more easily spread than the original COVID-19 virus and the Delta variant.
COVID-19 vaccines are important for limiting the spread of the virus and its variants. Getting vaccinated and staying up to date on vaccines is the best way to protect yourself and others against Omicron and other known variants. Vaccines are very effective in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19.
The CDC recommends using additional prevention strategies against COVID-19 and its variants including knowing when to wear a well-fitting mask.
Evidence shows that sometimes, vaccinated people can get the Omicron variant. When a vaccinated person gets infected, it’s called a breakthrough infection.
When breakthrough infections happen, they may be milder or have no symptoms. Vaccinated people with breakthrough infections are much less likely to have serious illness, be hospitalized or die than those who are not vaccinated.
Experts believe that anyone with the Omicron variant can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.
One of the best ways to prevent infection is to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As of now, research has shown that the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19 in pregnant people. Pregnant and breastfeeding people who want to get the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to do so. Learn more about the available COVID-19 vaccines.
Here are other ways to protect yourself and your family.
Wash your hands often:
Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 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 (about 2 arms’ length) between the person who is sick and other household members.
Outside your home, stay at least 6 feet away from other people if you are not up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Remember that some people without symptoms (asymptomatic) may be able to spread virus.
Avoid crowded places and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, if you are at higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19.
Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Know when to wear facemasks:
Wearing a facemask helps protect you and those around from COVID-19.
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.
Choose a well-fitting facemask that is comfortable for you and completely covers your nose, mouth and chin.
You can choose to wear a mask called a respirator. These are special filtering masks, such as an N95 or KN95.
The CDC recommends not using a facemask with valves or vents.
The CDC recommends knowing your COVID-19 Community Level to know when masking is most important. Levels can be low, medium or high and are determined by hospital statistics and the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.
People at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 – such as pregnant people – and those who live with or visit them should:
Talk to their healthcare provider about whether they and the people around them should wear a mask or respirator when the COVID-19 Community Level is medium.
Wear a mask or respirator that provides them with greater protection when the COVID-19 Community Level is high
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.
Wash your cloth facemask regularly, preferably in a washing machine.
Cover coughs and sneezes:
If you are wearing a mask, you can cough and sneeze into your mask. Put on a new, clean mask as soon as possible and wash your hands.
If you are not wearing a mask:
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.
Test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms. There are self-tests you can take at home, or you can get tested at a medical facility or testing site.
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).
Take care of yourself. Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Get tested for COVID-19. There are self-tests you can take at home, or you can get tested at a medical facility or testing site.
If you go to a medical facility, call 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.
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.
Medicines for COVID-19
If you have COVID-19 and are at high risk for severe illness or hospitalization, your provider may recommend certain treatments to help reduce these risks. These medicines are most effective when started within a few days after symptoms begin. The FDA has given emergency use authorization for the following treatments:
Monoclonal antibody treatments. These treatments are given intravenously (also called IV) or through an injection. An IV is when medicine is given through a needle into a vein. Monoclonal antibody treatments can help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.
Oral antiviral medicines. These prescription medicines can help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the body. Oral means taken by mouth. These medicines include:
Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir). This medicine can be used in people ages 12 and older with COVID-19 who are at risk for severe illness and weigh more than 88 pounds. It’s not safe for people with severe kidney or liver problems.
Molnupiravir. This medicine can be used in adults with COVID-19 who are at risk for severe illness. It’s not safe for pregnant people as it may increase the risk for birth defects. People who can get pregnant should use birth control when taking this medicine and for 4 days after the final dose. Men should also use birth control while taking this medicine and for at least 3 months after the last dose. It shouldn’t be taken by children under age 18 as it may affect bone and cartilage growth.
When can you be around others after having COVID-19?
Experts continue to update this information based on what we know. To find out when or for how long you need to quarantine or isolate, visit the CDC’s latest guidelines for quarantine and isolation.
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?
Most newborns born to people who have COVID-19 won’t get the virus.
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 especially if they are unvaccinated. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to be admitted to the hospital or the intensive care unit (ICU). They are more likely to need a ventilator or special equipment to help them breathe.
Research shows that there may be an increased risk of preterm birth, stillbirth 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.
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, lung disease, diabetes or gestational diabetes.
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
Get the COVID-19 vaccine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that pregnant and lactating people get the COVID-19 vaccine. Ask your provider any questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.
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 and COVID-19 vaccine.
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 you can 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 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.
The COVID-19 vaccine can’t make anyone sick with COVID-19, including you or your baby while you are breastfeeding.
Recent data shows that people who get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding have antibodies in their breastmilk. The antibodies in your breastmilk may help protect your baby against COVID-19.
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
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect you from COVID-19. CDC urges people who are pregnant, who were recently pregnant, who are trying to get pregnant and who might become pregnant in the future to get vaccinated. Vaccines are also recommended for people who are lactating. These recommendations align with those from medical organizations such as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM). Ask your provider any questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Types of vaccines
All of the current vaccines give the body’s cells instructions that help the immune system fight COVID-19.
Two of the current vaccines use mRNA technology. They do not contain a live virus.
Both mRNA vaccines have received full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One mRNA vaccine is recommended by The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the prevention of COVID-19 in people ages 5 and older and the other for people ages 18 and older.
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. This vaccine is available under emergency use authorization by the FDA and recommended by ACIP for the prevention of COVID-19 in people ages 18 and older. 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.
The CDC and ACOG recommend mRNA vaccines over the other available vaccine, including for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Several more vaccines are under development.
Clinical trials are well underway for mRNA vaccines in babies and children ages 6 months to age 5.
Vaccine safety and effectiveness
Research has shown that the mRNA vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant people. There’s no evidence that the antibodies your body makes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can cause any problem with pregnancy.
COVID-19 vaccines do not cause COVID-19 infection, including in pregnant people and their babies. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain a live virus.
Preliminary data found that pregnant people who received the mRNA vaccine did not have an increased risk for miscarriage (pregnancy loss before 20 weeks).
A large study from the CDC found no relationship between COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and preterm birth. The study also found that there is no increased risk of having a baby small for gestational age (SGA). A baby who is SGA didn’t gain the right amount of weight before birth.
There’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility. A recent study showed that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine did not affect fertility for women or men. Another study showed no differences in fertility for mRNA vaccinated women who were undergoing in vitro fertilization compared to unvaccinated women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people who are considering a future pregnancy.
There’s no need to delay pregnancy after getting the vaccine.
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.
Research shows that fully vaccinated people have a much lower risk of getting COVID-19, especially if they receive a booster when eligible. But sometimes vaccinated people may get COVID-19. In these cases, there may be no symptoms or symptoms may be milder they may have shorter illness. Research also shows a reduced risk of hospitalization in vaccinated people who get COVID-19.
Potential benefits for babies
Research has shown that pregnant people who get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine pass COVID-19 antibodies to their babies. These antibodies may help protect babies from COVID-19. Studies also have shown that the breast milk of people who get the vaccine may contain COVID-19 antibodies.
A recent study showed that mRNA vaccination during pregnancy may help prevent hospitalization with COVID-19 in babies younger than 6 months old.
Doses and boosters
You need 2 doses of mRNA vaccines to get the most protection. Be sure to follow the recommended dosing schedule for the vaccine you receive.
People who are immunocompromised may have less protection against COVID-19 and may get very sick if they get infected. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised need an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccines to get the most protection. Visit the CDC’s website to learn more.
Some studies show that vaccine protection may decrease over time. ACOG and CDC recommend that all eligible people, including pregnant people, get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after completing their initial vaccines. COVID-19 boosters are shown to increase protection against COVID-19 and reduce the risk of serious illness. Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about boosters and their timing.
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.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your provider.
If you are fully vaccinated/up to date on vaccines
The CDC says you are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after receiving your final dose of the vaccine. The CDC says up to date means that you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including a booster when eligible. See the updated recommendations for people who have been vaccinated.
Read March of Dimes's statement on COVID-19 Vaccination and Pregnant and Lactating People.
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. The COVID-19 pandemic has created 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 pandemic 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.