Can Coronavirus Affect Your Pregnancy?

As part of Northwell Health Physician Partners, we at Westchester Health would like to share the following article from Northwell Health concerning the COVID-19 outbreak, written by Michael Nimaroff, MD, Senior Vice President OB-GYN Services at Northwell Health.

In brief, the article discusses:

  • pregnant women do not seem at greater risk of contracting coronavirus than the general population
  • medical experts do not believe the virus can be passed to the fetus through the placenta
  • experts also do not believe COVID-19 leads to an increased incidence of abnormalities in the fetus
  • mothers with COVID-19 may have to isolate after giving birth but can still feed their babies their own breastmilk

The full article is reproduced below.


Can Coronavirus Affect My Pregnancy?

An OB/GYN shares how to prepare, and why it’s important to remain calm.

Dear Doctor,

I’m currently pregnant, and concerned about the impact the coronavirus might have on my pregnancy, baby, and delivery. What do I need to know about my risks and how I might protect myself?

“Stressing for Two”

Dear Stressing:

First and foremost: It’s important to remain calm. The good news is that we don’t believe pregnant women are more susceptible to catching coronavirus than the general population. COVID-19 is a new virus; recommendations from various health care organizations about its transmission and effects are constantly being updated as we learn new information. But from our experience with other strains of coronavirus, as well as with COVID-19 to date, it does not appear that pregnant women are at greater risk, however this still remains unknown and we are monitoring this closely. Pregnant women should focus on taking the same precautions as the broader population in their age group, including social distancing and plenty of hand washing.

It’s also important to point out that based on what we know from other coronaviruses, as well as from COVID-19 reports, we don’t believe the virus can be passed through the placenta. It’s not present in amniotic fluid or breast milk, and unlike the Zika virus, we don’t think COVID-19 leads to an increased incidence of abnormalities in the fetus.

As testing increases, we should be prepared for an uptick in pregnant patients diagnosed with COVID-19. I advise you to remain calm as these announcements are made. Your OB/GYN will work to provide up-to-date guidance on how women who still need to be seen in person should navigate this time. At Northwell, we’re working on efficient and safe ways to see patients who are quarantined or test positive for Coronavirus, as well as a hotline for expecting patients with questions.

In terms of delivery, a patient with COVID-19 will have a similar experience to that of a non-COVID-19 patient during the birthing process. However, in order to protect the newborn after delivery, an isolation period may be required. In this scenario, new moms would be allowed to pump and use their own breast milk for feedings, but would be advised not to breastfeed in order to reduce risk of transmission.

For expecting moms who have not contracted COVID-19, I encourage you to stick to your delivery plan. We understand the concern about entering a hospital where COVID-19 patients might be located, but based on the many precautions being taken, the risk of transmission in a hospital is extremely low. Most labor rooms are private and single-bedded, and many post-delivery rooms are single-bedded as well. Hospitals have been very proactive about limited visitation to keep everyone safe.

It is important for people to remember to bear with their medical teams right now—we are continuing to learn new information every day. Even so, patients should feel comfortable reaching out to their doctors with any questions or to schedule an appointment. We’re here to help keep both mom and baby safe.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Learn what Westchester Health is doing to protect our patients and staff against COVID-19

We are here to provide the care you need, when you need it. To learn what smart precautions we’re taking to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep you safe, visit our Coronavirus Digital Resource Center. To know how we’re responding to the outbreak and what to do if you’re feeling sick, visit our FAQ page (frequently asked questions). Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.