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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. 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. 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:

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine, 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.

  • Take steps to prevent coming into contact with COVID-19:

    • Stay home as much as you can and avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people who don’t live in your home.

    • If someone you live with is sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19, avoid contact with them as much as you can.

    • If you do have to go out in public or be around people who don’t live in your home, wear a tight-fitting face mask. Read more about how to use face masks.

    • Ask anyone around you to wear a mask if it’s possible, and avoid being near people who aren’t wearing masks (especially if they’re unvaccinated).

    • Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds. You can also use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol in it.

  • Don’t skip your prenatal care appointments or postpartum appointments. If you don’t have a nurse or doctor, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center or health department.

  • Make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of any medicines you’re taking.

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

  • If you have an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Don’t delay getting care because of COVID-19. If you go to the emergency room, call them before you get there — tell them you’re pregnant and having an emergency so they can plan to help protect you from COVID-19 while you’re there.

Read more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

How does COVID-19 affect newborns?

Scientists are still learning how COVID-19 affects newborns. It’s very uncommon for a parent with COVID-19 to spread it to their newborn baby (especially if you take precautions like wearing a mask and keeping your hands clean when caring for your baby). But it is possible for a newborn to 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.

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 tight-fitting 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, isn’t at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19, and lives in the same home as you 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 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. If you find out you’re pregnant after you get the first dose of a 2 dose vaccine, get the second dose — you need both doses to get full protection from COVID-19. 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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