Last updated March 31, 2020
If you or one of your loved ones is a UCSF pregnant patient, get answers here to important questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to minimize your risk of infection.
I am pregnant. Do I need to take special precautions?
Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes that might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections. It is possible that pregnant women will be more susceptible to COVID-19 and have more severe infection; however, so far pregnant patients do not seem to be experiencing more severe symptoms than nonpregnant adults. Currently there are no reported COVID-19 deaths in pregnant women. Pregnant women should follow the same precautions as nonpregnant patients:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people outside of your home.
- Do not come to work if you are sick.
- Avoid all nonessential travel.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue in the trash. Then wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home as much as possible. If you need to go out, avoid crowded public spaces, staying at least 6 feet away from all other persons.
I heard about a COVID-19 registry for pregnant women. What is that?
UCSF is currently enrolling patients in the PRIORITY (Pregnancy CoRonavIrus Outcomes RegIsTrY) Study, a nationwide study of pregnant or recently pregnant women who are either under investigation for COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have COVID-19. This study is being done to help patients and doctors better understand how COVID-19 impacts pregnant women and their newborns.
You may be able to join if:
- You are pregnant or have been pregnant within the last 6 weeks.
- You were diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been evaluated for COVID-19 since January 1, 2020.
Are pregnant women with COVID-19 infection at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes?
We do not have much information on adverse pregnancy outcomes in pregnant women with COVID-19. No maternal deaths have been reported to date. Pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth, has been observed in cases of infection with other related coronaviruses (SARS and MERS) during pregnancy. High fevers during the first trimester of pregnancy can increase the risk of certain birth defects. There is currently no evidence regarding optimal delivery route (vaginal vs. C-section) or timing; therefore, these decisions should be made on an individual basis in partnership with your doctor.
At this time, there is no information on the long-term health effects on infants with COVID-19, or on those exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 in utero.
Can pregnant women pass the virus to their baby during pregnancy and delivery?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Few cases of COVID-19 have been reported in newborns, and the majority of pregnant women with COVID-19 who have been studied have given birth to healthy babies. One study found that among nine pregnant women with COVID-19 pneumonia, amniotic fluid, cord blood and breast milk samples all tested negative for the virus, as did throat swabs from the children following birth. Another very small study demonstrated possible in utero transmission of the virus, with no adverse effects or symptoms in the newborn.
Can nursing women pass the virus to their baby during breastfeeding?
The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk, although data are limited. If mothers with COVID-19 are separated from their infants, they should express breast milk but should wash their hands thoroughly and disinfect the pump and bottles after use. Someone who is healthy should feed the child. If an infected mother decides to breastfeed, she should wear a face mask and wash her hands. You can refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s website for additional information on pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.