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  • COVID-19 and Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

Scientists are still learning how COVID-19 affects pregnancy and a newborn baby’s health. But based on what scientists know right now, pregnant people have a higher risk of death or getting very sick if they get COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 affect pregnancy?

People who are pregnant or have been pregnant recently are more likely to die or get very sick from COVID-19 than people who aren’t pregnant. And pregnant people who have COVID-19 may have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, like early birth. 

If you’re pregnant:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, and any other recommended vaccines (like the flu and Tdap vaccines). Ask anybody you live with to also get a flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine/boosters.

  • Take steps to prevent coming into contact with COVID-19, like avoiding people who have COVID-19 or have recently been exposed to it, wearing a mask when indoors with groups of people, and washing your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.

  • Call your doctor right away if you think you have COVID-19 or have any other questions or concerns about your health.

Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

How does COVID-19 affect newborns?

Some babies have tested positive for COVID-19 right after being born, but it’s not known if they got it before, during, or after birth. Most babies who tested positive for COVID-19 didn’t have symptoms or get very sick, but a few got severely ill.

If you’re pregnant and have COVID-19 symptoms, or think you were exposed to COVID-19, talk with your nurse or doctor about getting tested for COVID-19 and how to stay safe and healthy. If anybody who lives with or cares for your baby has COVID-19, they should avoid being near your baby as much as possible.

Read more about COVID-19 and newborns.

How does COVID-19 affect breastfeeding?

Scientists don’t know for sure if a baby can get COVID-19 through breast milk — so far, research says it’s not likely. 

If you’re feeling sick, think you have COVID-19, or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19, call your doctor for more information on how to safely care for yourself and your baby, including feeding your baby.

If you breastfeed and think you may have COVID-19, take steps to avoid spreading it to your baby:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before feeding or pumping, and before you touch your baby or any breastfeeding equipment (like breast pumps and bottle parts).

  • Properly clean and sanitize surfaces, bottles, and breast pump parts

  • Use a breast pump that only you use — don’t share with other people. 

  • Wear a face mask while you’re breastfeeding or pumping. Don’t put a face mask or shield on your baby. It may suffocate or strangle them, or increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • If possible, have someone who doesn’t have COVID-19 give pumped breast milk to your baby. Ask anybody who feeds your baby to wear a mask while caring for the baby.

Read more about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.

If you need food assistance and breastfeeding support as a person who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or the parent of a child under 5, you can contact your local WIC program. If you’re an immigrant, WIC assistance does not count against you when applying for a green card or visa.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes. The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine and booster for people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, might become pregnant in the future, or are breastfeeding.

People who are pregnant or have been pregnant recently are more likely to die or get very sick from COVID-19 than people who aren’t pregnant. And pregnant people who have COVID-19 may have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, like early birth. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19, and serious illness and death from COVID-19 (including the Delta variant). So it’s a good idea to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can.

It’s safe to get vaccinated at any point in your pregnancy. And you don’t need to delay getting pregnant after you get the vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t tested specifically in breastfeeding people, but there’s no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe if you’re breastfeeding. In fact, there’s some research showing that vaccinated people have COVID-19 antibodies in their breast milk — so it’s possible that getting the vaccine could pass some COVID-19 protection on to your baby. (Scientists are still studying this.)

You can read more about COVID-19 vaccine safety for pregnant and breastfeeding people on the CDC website.

What should I do if I’m pregnant and get a fever after getting the vaccine? 

One of the possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine is fever. If you get a fever after getting your vaccine, you should take acetaminophen (Tylenol) if you’re not allergic to it. 

Acetaminophen is safe to use when you’re pregnant and after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccine side effects, call your nurse or doctor.

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