Q&A on COVID-19 – pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding


Ø  Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?

According to the available data there is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk than the general population.

However, due to changes of immune system in their bodies, we know that pregnant women are vulnerable to some respiratory infections. It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19 and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their doctor.

World Health Organization will continue to analyze and monitor data; the recommendations will be updated in line with new evidence.


Ø  I’m pregnant. How can I protect myself against COVID-19?

Pregnant women should take the same precautions to avoid COVID-19 infection as other part of population, namely by:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based solution;
  • Keeping 2 meter space between yourselves and others; 
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Practicing respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze; if you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call before going to a health facility, and follow the directions of your local health authority;

·         Pregnant women and women who have recently delivered – including those affected by COVID-19 - should attend their routine care appointments. 



Ø  Should pregnant women be tested for COVID-19?


Testing of pregnant women, as well as the general population, is being implemented in accordance with national protocol.




Ø  Can COVID-19 be passed from a woman to fetus or newborn baby?


At this stage there is no evidence if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her fetus or baby during pregnancy or delivery. However to date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.



Ø  What medical care should be available during pregnancy and childbirth?

All pregnant women, including those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections, have the right to high quality care before, during and after childbirth. This includes antenatal, prenatal, postnatal and mental health care.

High quality medical care during childbirth includes:

  • Being treated with respect and dignity;
  • Having a companion of choice present during delivery;
  • Clear communication by maternity staff;
  • Appropriate pain relief strategies;
  • Availability of choosing labour  mode and place of birth.

If COVID-19 is confirmed, health workers should take all appropriate precautions to reduce risks of infection to themselves and others. 



Ø  Do pregnant women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 need to give birth by caesarean section?

No. WHO advice is that caesarean sections should only be performed when medically justified.

The mode of birth should be individualized and based on a woman’s preferences alongside obstetric indications.



Ø  Can women with COVID-19 breastfeed?

Yes. Women with COVID-19 can breastfeed.  They should:

  • Practice hygienewearing a mask where available;
  • Wash hands before and after touching the baby;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched.


Ø  Can she touch and hold her newborn baby if mother has COVID-19?

Yes. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to thrive. You should provide:

  • Breastfeed safely, with good  hygiene
  • Hold your newborn skin-to-skin;
  • Share a room with your baby.

You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby, and keep all surfaces clean.


Ø  I have COVID-19 and am too unwell to breastfeed my baby directly. What can I do?


Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most newborn babies. However, not much is known about COVID-19, but mother, in agreement/coordination with family members and/or family doctor, must determine how to start or continue breastfeeding. Mother who is confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection needs special precautions to prevent the transmission of the virus to the newborn, such as hand washing before touching the baby and wearing a face mask during breast feeding. If you give expressed milk to the baby, you should wash your hands in advance and after express milk; if using a special devise for milk expressing, it should be thoroughly washed before and after use. If mother has somebody who assists her, mother should give her right on baby’s feeding with expressed milk.