COVID-19: Tips for Expectant Parents

August 11, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Carmelita Mabanta, M.D. contributes to topics such as Neonatology.

Pamela Schultz, M.D. contributes to topics such as Obstetrics and Gynecology.

For the foreseeable future—at least until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is available—pregnancy will look a bit different for expectant parents. Whether you’re thinking about starting a family or are already pregnant, knowing what to expect when you’re expecting during a pandemic can help you prepare, ease your worries and help you and your baby stay safe.

Here are some common questions and answers about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

Can mothers with COVID-19 pass the virus to their unborn child?

Vertical transmission of the virus—from mom to baby through the placenta—seems rare at this point, says Pamela Schultz, M.D., an OB/GYN at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. A couple cases have been reported in the U.S. and France. As we see more cases of pregnant women with COVID-19, there will be more information regarding transmission to babies.

Can mothers who have recovered from COVID-19 pass antibodies to their unborn child?

There are studies taking place to determine this, but nothing has been concluded yet, Dr. Schultz says.

How should parents fighting COVID-19 protect their newborns?

If Mom or Dad is a known carrier, we recommend that they wear a mask while holding the baby and be extra vigilant about handwashing and sanitizer, Dr. Schultz says. If possible, have another person ready to be the baby’s primary caregiver should both parents become ill.

Is it safe for mothers with COVID-19 to breastfeed their babies?

No risk of the virus has been identified in breastmilk, so the recommendation is to continue breastfeeding but with a mask if you become sick, Dr. Schultz says. If you are sick, if possible, pump and have the baby’s father or your partner feed the baby (assuming they are healthy).

Should I use hand sanitizer on my baby’s skin or put a mask on his/her face?

Neither masking nor hand sanitizer are recommended for your baby, Dr. Schultz says. Sanitizer is for those who will be coming into contact with the baby, but hand-washing is best.

What measures is Hackensack Meridian Health taking to ensure the safety of expectant parents and newborns?*

Expectant mothers are allowed to have one visitor at a time who is 18 years or older. If the mother is COVID-positive, her visits must be scheduled. Visitors must pass a symptom and temperature check, wash their hands and wear face coverings. They must practice social distancing in common areas and are required to wear a mask in the hospital.

The baby’s mother and father or mom’s designated partner are the only visitors allowed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), says Carmelita Mabanta, M.D., neonatologist at Jersey Shore and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital. Each person is only allowed to visit the hospital once a day after the mother is discharged from the hospital; she may visit more frequently while she is admitted to Labor and Delivery. Visitations in the Special Care Nursery (SCN) are staggered to permit suitable social distancing. Visitors must undergo a second screening, do meticulous handwashing and wear a hospital gown and mask before entering the NICU/SCN clinical areas. For parents who are unable to visit, the NICU has a secure webcam system so that they can watch their babies remotely as long and as often as they want. Discharge instructions are given to parents to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission to their newborn.

Find the latest visitor policies.

*These restrictions are subject to change.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.