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What do we know about pregnancy and COVID-19?

Last updated April 18, 2024


COVID-19 risks during pregnancy

According to the Mayo Clinic, "pregnant women seem to catch the virus that causes COVID-19 at about the same rate as women who aren't pregnant. Also, pregnant women usually get better without needing care in the hospital. But pregnancy is a factor that raises the risk of severe COVID-19. That risk stays higher for at least a month after giving birth.

"And the risk continues to go up if a pregnant person has other health issues linked to severe COVID-19. Examples of these health issues are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or lung disease."

If you are pregnant or recently pregnant (at least 42 days after pregnancy), you are more likely to get seriously ill if you contract COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. COVID-19 during pregnancy can lead to stillbirth, preterm birth and possibly other pregnancy-related complications.

Pregnant women are more likely to develop other health problems as a result of COVID-19. They include heart damage, blood clots and kidney damage. Moderate to severe symptoms from COVID-19 have also been linked to higher rates of preterm birth, high blood pressure or preeclampsia.

These risks may shift as the virus that causes COVID-19 changes. Risks also may change as disease prevention and treatment evolve. But risks are lowered significantly when a pregnant person gets the COVID-19 vaccine.


The CDC recommends a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older, including women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccination before and during pregnancy is safe and effective and suggests that the benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks.

New data show that vaccination during pregnancy can actually help protect babies younger than 6 months old from hospitalization due to COVID-19. Vaccinated pregnant and breastfeeding women pass the antibodies their bodies make in response to the vaccines on to their babies. This can help protect their babies from serious illness caused by COVID-19 when they are too young to get vaccinated.

There is no evidence that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 before or during pregnancy increases your risk of complications that affect your pregnancy or fertility.

Everyone, including women who are getting pregnant, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, should stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, including getting an updated vaccine when it’s time to get one.

Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women who get pregnant are particularly at risk

In early November 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) released a report on 400,000 women that noted an increased risk for admission to the ICU was “particularly notable” among Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 44 with symptomatic COVID-19.

While you’re pregnant, it’s important for you and those in your household to:

  • Test for COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, test for the infection. If you are exposed, test five days after you came in contact with the virus.
  • Keep some distance. Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has symptoms, if possible.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Then wash your hands.
  • Try to spread out in crowded public areas, especially in places with poor airflow. This is important if you have a higher risk of serious illness.

The CDC recommends that people wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you're in an area with a high number of people with COVID-19 in the hospital. They suggest wearing the most protective mask possible that you'll wear regularly, that fits well and is comfortable.

COVID-19 and prenatal care

Unlike earlier in the pandemic, in-person prenatal visits typically are not disrupted by COVID-19.

COVID-19 and giving birth

If you test positive for COVID-19 close to when you give birth, you may not need to change your birth plan.

But it's also possible that your healthcare professional will suggest a change in timing or delivery options for your safety. People who also are managing high blood pressure linked to pregnancy or preeclampsia are more likely to be monitored in the hospital if they get COVID-19.

After the baby is born, research suggests it's safe for your baby to stay with you even if you have COVID-19. If you are too ill to care for your baby, your healthcare professional may suggest the baby stay in another hospital area.

To limit your baby's exposure to the virus, wear a well-fitting face mask and have clean hands when caring for your newborn. Stay a reasonable distance from your baby when not feeding, if possible.

Breastfeeding and COVID-19

If you have COVID-19 but feel well enough, there is no need to stop breastfeeding or stay separate from your baby. To avoid spreading the infection, wash your hands before breastfeeding. Also, wear a well-fitting face mask whenever you are in close contact with your baby.

If you're pumping breast milk, wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow instructions for pump cleaning. If you need care in the hospital, you may be able to keep pumping.

COVID-19 concerns after giving birth

Staying healthy can be a big concern for new parents. Worry about COVID-19 illness for yourself or your newborn may be an added burden. But it is typical for newborns to get their first illness during their first year of life. In fact, your baby may have mild illness regularly during this first year as the baby comes in contact with the world.

If you find that worry over COVID-19 or other illness is affecting your or your baby's health, talk to your healthcare professional.

Overall, while pregnancy does pose unique considerations in the context of COVID-19, the majority of pregnant women who contract the virus will experience mild to moderate illness. However, it's important for pregnant women to work closely with their healthcare providers to address any concerns and ensure the best possible outcomes for themselves and their babies.

Mayo Clinic

This article was written and edited by the Tayo editorial desk and has been reviewed by an independent panel of subject matter experts.

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