Maternal and Baby Health and COVID-19: What We Know

Photo by Anna Shvets on

In Virginia, we are on a modified isolation status, with citizens encouraged to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. Schools are closed for a 2 week minimum, SOLs are cancelled, and our Governor issued a 10 person maximum occupancy for gathering spaces.

Our numbers for the infected are slowly climbing, but we are remaining cautiously optimistic.

Let’s talk a little about the virus itself, and what we know so far, as well as what we should do to protect ourselves and our babies. Please keep in mind, we are still researching and learning about this virus, so all information in this article is accurate at the time of writing. For the most updated information, and other related information, you can visit the CDC website and your local Health Department site.


The novel Coronavirus originated in China, and has been making its way around the world, affecting people in Europe, the Middle East, and The United States, among others. We’re still learning quite a bit, but so far we know the symptoms are very closely related to that of the flu and the common cold, with the addition of breathing difficulty. People over the age of 60 and with underlying medical conditions are the most at risk.

To learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19, here’s a short video:

We know the virus originated in an animal market in Wuhan, China, but now it is spreading person-to-person, possibly via droplets on our skin or in the air. Ultimately, we are still trying to figure out exactly how it spreads, but in the meantime, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, practice social distancing, and cough into your elbow.

What if I’m Pregnant?

At the time of this writing, it is not known if women who are pregnant are more or less susceptible to COVID-19. However, pregnancy itself does create changes in the body which can increase women’s risk of becoming sick, regardless.

So far, no infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive, but we do not know if this is conclusive (this was a very small number). We also do not know if a pregnant mother can pass the virus to her unborn baby. According to the CDC, there has been a small number of pregnancy problems (including preterm birth), but we do not know if this is related to the virus.

As I learn more about the virus and its potential risk to pregnancy, I will keep this page updated.

What if I’m Breastfeeding?

I’ve written about the benefits of breastfeeding, regardless of illness. These benefits still exist with viruses, and with a cold or the flu, it is encouraged to nurse through illness. You’re probably getting a bit tired of reading the same thing, but unfortunately, there isn’t much information yet about the relationship between the virus and breastfeeding. However, it may be reassuring to know that in the studies that have been done with COVID-19 and SARS-CoV (Severe Accute Respiratory Syndrome), the virus has not been detected in breast milk!

The CDC recommends that that a mother with flu continue breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk to her infant while taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant.

It is up to you, the mother, on whether you continue, temporarily postpone, or stop breastfeeding your baby. Just be sure to take necessary precautions to avoid spreading the virus farther, and if you are using a pump, wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water. You can read more about cleaning and sanitizing your breast pump here.

How about you? How are you and your family making out? Is everyone ok? Let’s support each other and hope this thing clears soon!

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