Many of us hoped it would all be over by now, but Covid-19 is still a reality. And, in one way or another, it’s probably going to be with us for a long time to come.
Which means that life, in many ways, has to go on. And that includes new life.
Let’s see if we can answer them.
In this article: 📝
- What should I know about having a baby during the Covid pandemic?
- What Covid precautions should I take during pregnancy?
- What happens after I have a baby during Covid?
- Having a baby during Covid: It’s not all bad
What should I know about having a baby during the Covid pandemic?
Having a baby during Covid is different from other, non-pandemic periods.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a baby if the timing is right for you.
But it could help to know what we know so far about the risks of Covid if you get the disease while pregnant, or after your little one’s birth.
Let’s start with some of the most common questions mamas-to-be ask about pregnancy and birth during Covid:
Can COVID-19 be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy?
The CDC says that most babies whose mamas had Covid-19 while they were pregnant don’t have the virus when they’re born.
Some babies have tested positive for Covid after they’re born, but it can be hard to know when exactly they got infected.
Does the CDC consider pregnancy high risk for Covid-19?
If you get Covid while you’re pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that you are more likely to be severely sick than if you weren’t pregnant.
This means that you have a higher chance of needing to be treated in hospital. In that sense, yes, being pregnant is a risk.
From the point of view of your little one, the few studies that have been done so far suggest that having Covid while you’re pregnant also increases the risk of delivering your baby early, having a stillbirth, and experiencing other pregnancy complications, although these outcomes are still very rare.
Research done in the UK suggests that having Covid at the time of giving birth can also lead to a higher likelihood of stillbirths.
Again though, the studies stress that even though Covid increases these risks, they are still very low.
Is it safe to give birth in a hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Usually, yes. The maternity wards at many hospitals have continued to run normally throughout the pandemic.
Some hospitals have changed their systems and protocols to incorporate more Covid precautions.
For example, under certain lockdown restrictions, your birth partner or doula may not be allowed to visit or be present for the birth.
This could affect your experience, so it’s worth checking with your hospital that they are still offering full maternity services, that there’s likely to be space when you’re due to have your baby, and what, if any, their changed protocols are.
If you have Covid when you give birth, what will happen to your baby?
In some cases, mamas have been temporarily separated from their babies to avoid passing Covid on.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) says that mamas should breastfeed and practice skin-to-skin contact when their babies are born, even if they have Covid, so you can ask to stay with your baby if you can.
The CDC says that, if you do this, you should wear a mask when your little one is close to you and wash your hands as often as you can.
Can you breastfeed if you have Covid?
There isn’t any evidence that suggests that Covid can be passed through breast milk.
Unless your doctor or doula has other advice, breastfeeding even if you have Covid should be perfectly safe.
Are newborns at higher risk of Covid infection?
There isn’t a lot of research into whether newborns are more at risk of Covid infection.
The research seems to show that while newborns can become infected shortly after being born, most who test positive have mild or no symptoms.
As new variants emerge, however, and the pandemic evolves, it is probably safest to take extra precautions both for you and for your peanut.
What Covid precautions should I take during pregnancy?
As the pandemic wears on, taking precautions for Covid can seem harder and harder.
After all, pregnancy is a time when we most need human contact, support, and company, especially as we get closer to bringing our little one into the world.
But – and it’s a “we-know-this-might-be-impossible” but – it would probably be best not to get Covid while you’re pregnant.
If you can, these are precautions that could help while your immune system is vulnerable.
Try to avoid situations that might put you at risk
Avoid large gatherings, especially indoors, and wear a mask if you’re interacting with people you don’t live with.
The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend the Covid vaccine for everyone who is trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or hoping to get pregnant in the future.
The vaccines have been found to be safe for mamas-to-be.
If you have a condition that might make getting the shot potentially harmful for your health, chat to your doctor first.
You could also contact MotherToBaby, a CDC-approved organization that is available to answer all your vaccine and pregnancy-related questions. Contact them by:
If you’re not vaccinated, try to be extra careful with the other precautions to avoid getting Covid.
Take good care of your health
Staying healthy during your pregnancy by eating as healthily as you can, exercising as regularly as possible, taking the supplements your doctor recommends, and going for your scans and appointments is always important.
With Covid around, it’s even more so. Try to stay as healthy as you can.
You’re likely to be tested for Covid when you’re admitted to the hospital
Even if you’re in labor, you and anyone who is with you will be tested for Covid when you arrive at the hospital.
Knowing to expect this might make it a little less alarming when a nurse tries to get a swab from you.
What happens after I have a baby during Covid?
Once your little peanut is out in the world (what a thought!), it can be difficult to know how to navigate introducing them to all your friends and family, who’ve probably been almost as excited for their arrival as you.
Should you have people over to meet your baby?
Like a lot about having a baby during the pandemic, it will depend on what makes you most comfortable.
Seeing people is certainly possible, but there are ways to do it safely.
Here are a few tips:
Ask visitors to hold off for a while if they’re feeling under the weather
Ask your visitors not to come over if they have cold or flu symptoms, even if they’re testing negative for Covid.
This is considered pretty normal etiquette regardless of the pandemic.
Most people understand that baby immune systems can be sensitive, as can yours in the first few postnatal weeks, so you could ask this easily without causing too much offense.
If there’s one thing Covid-19 has taught us, it’s the value of good basic hygiene.
You could ask your visitors to wash their hands before they handle or cuddle your baby, and make kissing a no-no for the moment.
Incorporate the familiar Covid-safe measures
This might mean asking guests to wear masks, asking if they are able to take a rapid test the day before coming over, or hosting your first few meet-and-greets outdoors.
It all depends on what feels right for you.
Postponing a visit at the last minute if you feel uncertain or anxious is always a last resort that you can rely on too.
Having a baby during Covid: It’s not all bad
Sure, having a baby during Covid can be tricky.
But, if you think about it, it’s also kinda wonderful.
As the world continues to feel crazy and unpredictable, you get to be cocooned at home with your brand new baby. What bliss.
Enjoy the sanctuary, mama. There won’t be another time like it.
(Plus, if you need it, the Peanut community is right there to connect you with other mamas near you who are going through exactly the same thing.)
📚 More from The 411:
Flu-Like Symptoms Before Labor: What to Know
Becoming a Mama in a Pandemic: “Without Peanut, I Wouldn’t Have Coped”
How to Make Friends and Reconnect as the Pandemic Subsides
Covid Vaccine and Fertility: What’s the Evidence?
What We Know About Getting Covid While Pregnant
Can Babies Be Tested for Covid?
Getting Pregnant After the Covid Vaccine: The Facts
Can Babies Get Covid-19?