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COVID-19 is a new illness, and scientists are still learning how it affects pregnancy and a newborn baby’s health.

How does COVID-19 affect pregnancy?

Pregnant people might have a higher risk of getting 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. So it’s important for pregnant people and anyone they live with to stay as healthy as possible and to take steps to avoid being exposed to COVID-19 and other illnesses.

If you’re pregnant:

Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

How does COVID-19 affect newborns?

Newborns can get COVID-19 from close contact with someone who has the virus. Some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19, 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. A small number of problems with pregnancy and birth (like early birth) have happened with babies born to people who tested positive for COVID-19, but scientists don’t know if COVID-19 caused these problems.

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 keep your baby safe and healthy.

Read more about COVID-19 and newborns.

How does COVID-19 affect breastfeeding?

Scientists don’t yet know if a baby can get COVID-19 through breast milk — so far, research says it’s not likely. But if you have COVID-19, it may be possible to pass it to your baby while you’re breastfeeding. That’s because COVID-19 spreads easily during close contact with other people, through unwashed hands or small liquid droplets that come out of your nose and mouth when you cough, sneeze, talk, sing, laugh, or breathe out. 

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 disinfect 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 newborn or infant. It may suffocate or strangle your baby, or increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • If possible, pumped breast milk should be given to your baby by someone who doesn’t have COVID-19, isn’t at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, and lives in the same home as you.

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 under the Public Charge rule.  

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