Pregnancy and COVID-19
Preparing To Have a Baby During COVID-19
Preparing to deliver a child is a wonderful and also somewhat stressful time for many families. We want to support you through the important process of pregnancy and birth. We are doing everything we can to keep mom, baby and our staff safe during delivery and throughout your hospital stay. Stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus information as well as our hospital and doctor office policies.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Build Support and Prepare for Labor and Delivery
We understand that visitor limits may be difficult for women who had imagined birth with multiple support people or loved ones. Here are some things you can do to prepare and cope with these changes:
- Prepare yourself for childbirth ahead of time. University Hospitals offers virtual childbirth classes and hospital tours.
- Let your care team know if you have any specific worries or questions. It will help them understand you and your needs better.
- Feel free to ask three key questions: “Why is this being recommended?” “Do I have any other options?” and “Do I have to make a decision right now?”
- Use technology to stay connected, even if you are physically separated from loved ones. University Hospitals provides free Wi-Fi to patients.
- If you have anxiety or depression, talk to your provider about whether counseling or medication might be helpful for symptoms that are getting worse.
- Newborn Care for Mothers with COVID-19
Although we still have much to learn about the risks of COVID-19 for newborns of people with COVID-19, we do know these facts:
- Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also more likely to give birth early.
- Newborn infection with COVID-19 virus is uncommon
- When a newborn does get infected, it seems to have been passed to the baby by people caring for the newborn.
- Very few infections seem to pass from mother to baby during delivery
- The few newborns who have a positive test for COVID-19 either have no symptoms at all or very mild symptoms
- Reports of severe illness in newborns are rare
- Severe illness in newborns seems to happen more often in premature infants, or babies who have medical conditions
Before your baby is born, you will be able to have a discussion with the pediatric team (baby doctors) to discuss ways to care for your baby. You will have a chance to talk about options such as keeping your baby with you in your room, breastfeeding, and skin-to-skin care.
- Skin-to-skin care helps newborns keep an even temperature, breathing and heart rate. It also helps to keep baby’s blood sugar stable
- Keeping baby in the same room with you (rooming-in) can help your bonding. We will show you how to wash hands and wear a mask when caring for your baby. When you are not feeding or caring for baby, we advise that baby’s bassinet be at least 6 feet from the head of your bed.
- If you choose for your baby to be in another room, your baby will be cared for by our medical staff and, perhaps, a healthy support person. We will do everything we can to help you and your baby be close because we know how important it is for you and your baby to bond.
- Breastfeeding If You Have COVID-19
So far, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in breast milk. We know that breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your baby’s health.
In addition to other benefits, breastfeeding can provide protection to your baby from other respiratory viral infections. We don’t yet know if breastfeeding protects baby against COVID-19, though mother’s antibodies that fight COIVD-19 have been found in breast milk.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you will need to wash your hands and wear a mask every time to reduce the chance of passing on the virus.
If you choose to not breastfeed directly, we strongly encourage you to pump your breast milk. Our team will help you think through these choices and support you.
- Going Home with Your Baby
To limit the chance of your baby getting any infection, we recommend you limit visitors to only those who will actively help you take care of your baby or household.
- Anyone who comes into your home should be healthy and wear a mask and wash their hands.
- Talk to your family and friends ahead of time so they know they may not get to visit right away.
- The best way to protect children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine is for everyone around them who is over the age of 12 to be vaccinated.
- If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, wash your hands and wear a mask any time you are going to be close to your baby, such as when changing a diaper or crib sheets.
People sick with COVID-19 continue to spread the virus for some time. People with a positive COVID-19 test, even those who never develop symptoms should continue to stay away from others until 14 days after the positive test.
- Should My Baby Wear a Face Covering or Mask?
Please, do not put a mask or face covering on your baby or any child under the age of 2 years. Face coverings of any kind create a risk of suffocation for infants and young children.
- Managing Your Stress
Getting ready for a new baby can be stressful, even in the best of times. Getting ready for a new baby during COVID-19 may be more stressful. To best care for your baby, it’s important you also take care of yourself. Here are some ideas to cope with your own stress during this time:
- Create and keep a list of community resources such as emergency numbers, doctors, social services, mental health centers, crisis hotlines and public health offices.
- Stay up to date about the COVID-19 situation in your area and state, but be careful about how much time you spend watching the news or reading about COVID-19. When you begin to feel anxious, confused, panicked or overwhelmed, take breaks from the news and social media.
- Make a list of activities that you find relaxing, such as taking a walk, reading a book, listening to music, talking to a trusted friend or family member, drawing, watching a movie, journaling, etc.
- Try meditation or relaxation exercises; many can be found for free online.
- Spend time with family that is consistent with family interests and cultural values.
- Have some structure or routine in schedules. This makes things feel less out of control and can be very reassuring to people of all ages.
- Try to have healthy eating and sleeping habits.
- Remember that feeling stressed, worried, lonely, fearful, bored, angry or panicked are normal reactions to this very stressful situation.
- Keep (virtual) appointments with your health care providers to take care of your physical and mental health.
- Focus on activities that bring you hope, optimism, gratitude and purpose – we know these things help people overcome stress and adversity.
- If you already have anxiety or depression, talk to your provider about whether counseling or medication might be helpful for symptoms that are getting worse. University Hospitals have mental health professionals who specialize in women’s mental health during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. You can also look for support resources through Postpartum Support International, which supports the mental health needs of parents before, during and after pregnancy.
- Tips for Talking with Children About COVID-19
If you have other kids at home, it’s important to address the situation in a way that makes sense to your child(ren). Children may have very different reactions and feelings if you or another caregiver is sick. It is important that trusted adults are open and willing to talk with children about their feelings and reactions in a way that is at the child’s level of understanding. It is also important for adults to manage their own worries around their children and limit exposure to “grown-up” conversations.
- Tips for Talking with Others About COVID-19
Sharing information about your health with trusted friends and family members is safer for everyone and can let others offer you and your family support. It is nothing to be ashamed of. When others know, they can offer their support, emotionally and physically.
- Other Online Pregnancy Resources
- University Hospitals COVID-19 Information
- CDC COVID-19 Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Info
- CDC COVID-19 Guidelines for Caring for Pregnant Women in the hospital
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists Recommendations
- The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
- National Institutes of Health Special Considerations in Pregnancy and Post-partum Care
- COVID-19 FAQs by BabyCenter and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
- COVID-19 Birth Defect and Lactation Information by MotherToBaby
- Academy Breastfeeding Medicine Statement on COVID-19
- World Health Organization
- Other Parenting Resources
- Where to Seek Help When Stress Becomes Overwhelming
- Call your healthcare provider(s)
- United Way's First Call for Help Dial 211 or 216-436-2000
- Frontline 24/7 Crisis Services in Cleveland: 216-623-6888
- Cuyahoga County Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Crisis, Information and Referral Hotline: 216-623-6888
- Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services
- Journey Center for Safety and Healing (Greater Cleveland) 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 216-391-HELP (4357)
- Cleveland Rape Crisis Center 24-Hour Hotline: 216-619-6192
- Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline: 216-696-KIDS (5437)
- National Parent Helpline (Monday through Friday, 10 am – 7 pm PDT) – Call 1-855-2736 for emotional support and advocacy for parents
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA’s) free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7) – Call 800-273-TALK (8255); Online chat support
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Text Line (24/7) – Text NAMI to 741-741
- National Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7) – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline (24/7) – Call 800-656-HOPE (4673); Online Hotline