The Center for Disease Control has released the following information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding patients during the pandemic visit the website directly for updated information as data and implications can change at any moment.
IF I HAVE COVID-19, CAN I PASS IT TO MY BABY IF I BREASTFEED?
According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, if a mother or baby becomes ill, the best thing the mother can do is to continue breastfeeding to provide her baby with human antibodies. There are limited studies on women with COVID-19, but those studies show that the virus has not been detected in breast milk. However, it is unknown if mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus through breast milk.
Breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions where breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. The CDC has no specific guidance at this time for breastfeeding while infected with COVID-19 or similar viruses, however there are some resources on their website that could be helpful during this time.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE COVID-19?
If you are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are a symptomatic patient under investigation (PUI), you should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby. Before going to the hospital, let the obstetric unit know that you have or suspected to have COVID-19 so they can make the proper infection control preparations. Also:
• Wash your hands before touching or feeding your baby;
• Wash your hands before touching any breast pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper
pump cleaning after each use; and
• If possible, consider having someone who is healthy feed your expressed breast milk to your baby.
Pregnant women should take precautions to prevent exposure to the virus and use the same steps to protect their families. These include washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes with your elbow and not your hands, cleaning surfaces like countertops, light switches and cell phones frequently, social distancing, wearing a mask in public and staying away from sick people.
IF I GET COVID-19, CAN IT BE PASSED TO MY BABY?
COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads. It is unclear whether COVID-19 can be passed to a fetus during pregnancy. In the cases of infants born to mothers with COVID-19, none have tested positive for the virus. In these cases, which are small in number the virus was not detected in amniotic fluid or breastmilk. However, research in this area is extremely limited.
SHOULD I KEEP MY PRENATAL AND WELL-BABY APPOINTMENTS?
It is important to take steps to ensure the health of yourself and your baby during pregnancy, including receiving prenatal care and making well-baby appointments. Your healthcare provider or pediatrician will help you make decisions on prenatal care and well-baby visits. Talk to them about your COVID-19-related concerns and take their advice to ensure you are staying safe during and after pregnancy. If you are not comfortable going to an appointment in person, talk to your health care provider about alternative options like telehealth, or virtual prenatal appointments.
SHOULD I CHANGE MY BIRTH PLAN?
If you are considering changes to your birth plan, discuss your options with your health care provider. Hospitals across Pennsylvania continue to be safe places for delivery and are taking every precaution to protect the health of patients and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Preventive measures may include screening visitors and birthing support persons, requiring personal protective equipment and limiting movement in the hospital. If you have questions about specific policies being implemented in your birthing hospital, contact your health care provider. Other delivery options, such as home birth, may pose health and safety risks for both the birth mother and infant, so it is important to discuss those options with a health care provider before making a decision.
WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN?
Managing stress and anxiety and maintaining mental health during and after pregnancy can be challenging, especially during this time. Along with usual recommendations such as healthy eating, exercise and sleep, make sure you are staying connected with friends and family, over the phone or online; taking breaks from COVID-19-related news and social media; and talking to your health care provider if you are feeling sad or anxious.
If you or someone you know needs help, text PA to 741-741 to connect with a crisis counselor 24/7 or call 1-855- 284-2494 to reach the Department of Human Service’s Mental Health Support Line.
For support with postpartum depression, call 1-800-944-4773 or text 503-894-9453 to connect with a support person from Postpartum Support International.
In Healthcare Settings:
These infection prevention and control considerations are for healthcare facilities providing obstetric care for pregnant patients with suspected1 or confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in inpatient obstetric healthcare settings including obstetrical triage, labor and delivery, recovery and inpatient postpartum settings.
This information is intended to aid hospitals and clinicians in applying broader CDC interim guidance on infection prevention and control for COVID-19.
Since maternity and newborn care units vary in physical configuration, each facility should consider their appropriate space and staffing needs to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. These considerations include appropriate isolation of pregnant patients who have suspected1 or confirmed COVID-19; basic and refresher training for all healthcare personnel on those units to include correct adherence to infection control practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) use and handling; and sufficient and appropriate PPE supplies positioned at all points of care.
These considerations are based upon the limited evidence available to date about transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. The approaches outlined below are intentionally cautious until additional data become available to refine recommendations for prevention of person-to-person transmission in inpatient obstetric care settings.
- Pregnant patients with suspected1 or confirmed COVID-19 should notify the obstetric unit prior to arrival so the facility can make appropriate infection control preparations such as: identifying the most appropriate room for labor and delivery, ensuring infection prevention and control supplies and PPE are correctly positioned, and informing all healthcare personnel who will be involved in the patient’s care of infection control expectations before the patient’s arrival.
- If a pregnant patient who has suspected1 or confirmed COVID-19 is arriving via transport by emergency medical services, the driver should contact the receiving emergency department or healthcare facility and follow previously agreed-upon local or regional transport protocols. For more information refer to the Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for COVID-19 in the United States.
- Healthcare providers should promptly notify infection control personnel at their facility of the anticipated arrival of a pregnant patient who has suspected1 or confirmed COVID-19.
- Pregnant women admitted with suspected1 COVID-19 or who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19during admission should be prioritized for testing. Testing of asymptomatic pregnant women is at the discretion of the healthcare provider and facility. Healthcare facilities should ensure recommended infection control practices for hospitalized pregnant patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are consistent with Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations.
- All healthcare facilities that provide obstetric care must ensure that their personnel are correctly trained and capable of implementing recommended infection control interventions, including the use of personal protective equipment. Individual healthcare personnel should ensure they understand and can adhere to infection control requirements.
- Healthcare facilities providing inpatient obstetrical care should limit visitors to pregnant women who have known or suspected COVID-19 infections.
- Visitors should be limited to those essential for the pregnant woman’s well-being and care (emotional support persons).
- Depending upon the extent of community-transmission, institutions may consider limiting visitors to one essential support person and having that person be the same individual throughout the hospitalization.
- Use of alternative mechanisms for patient and visitor interactions, such as video-call applications, can be encouraged for any additional support persons.
- Any visitors permitted to labor and delivery should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and should not be allowed entry if fever or other symptoms are present.
- Visitors should be informed about use of masks (including cloth face coverings) for any person entering the healthcare facility and about appropriate use of personal protective equipment according to current facility visitor policy. Visitors should be instructed to only visit the patient room and should not go to other locations within the facility, including any newborn nursery.
- Visitors should be limited to those essential for the pregnant woman’s well-being and care (emotional support persons).
Considerations for Newborns and Breastfeeding
CDC has developed recommendations for healthcare providers caring for neonates (newborns) at risk for COVID-19, including testing and infection prevention and control considerations, as well as guidance for care of breastfeeding mothers. For more information, visit Evaluation and Management Considerations for Neonates At Risk for COVID-19 and Guidance on Care for Breastfeeding Women.
Patients with COVID-19 can be discharged from the healthcare facility whenever clinically indicated. For more information, see Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions and Disposition of Patients with COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings. Meeting criteria for discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions is not a prerequisite for discharge.
Patients who are able to be discharged from the hospital but have not met criteria to discontinue isolation and wish to reduce the risk of transmission to their newborn may continue temporary separation at their place of residence (if feasible) until cleared to discontinue home isolation following either the symptom based strategy or testing based strategy. When temporary separation is being considered, its risks and benefits should be discussed by the mother and the healthcare team. Decisions about temporary separation should be made in accordance with the mother’s wishes. For more information, refer to guidance in the Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19.
People who are caring for infants and young children may experience increased stress, feelings of isolation, or loneliness because of social distancing measures during the COVID-19 outbreak or related temporary separation. Postpartum depression symptoms may be worsened because of COVID-19 social distancing measures. Providers are encourage to share resources with patients about coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 For the purpose of obstetric care, a suspected COVID-19 case is someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, or has had a recent high risk contact (such as a family member at home with COVID-19) and does not have a negative test result (either because no test was done or because the test is still pending). Some facilities may choose to test all patients regardless of symptoms or known exposure as part of a universal testing protocol. Regardless of pending test results, pregnant individuals who are asymptomatic at the time of admission and have no history of high risk contact should not be considered to be suspected cases.
- Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Resources for Hospitals and Healthcare Professionals Preparing for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19
- Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings
- Guidance on Care for Breastfeeding Women
- Evaluation and Management Considerations for Neonates At Risk for COVID-19
- World Health Organization Interim Guidance on Clinical Management of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection When Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) Infection Is Suspectedexternal icon
- National Institutes of Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelinesexternal icon