Pregnancy and Coronavirus

According to the WHO, pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk of getting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, studies have shown an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 if they are infected, compared with non-pregnant women of a similar age. COVID-19 during pregnancy has also been associated with an increased likelihood of preterm birth.
In addition, pregnant women or recently pregnant women who are older, overweight, and have pre-existing medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes are at particular risk of serious outcomes of COVID-19. Due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women can be badly affected by 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 in breathing) to their healthcare provider.

According to the WHO and the CDC, there is currently insufficient data to rule out with any certainty the possibility of transmission during pregnancy or delivery. However, to date, NO active virus has been found in the breast milk, umbilical cord blood or amniotic fluid of infected mothers. Most newborns of people who had COVID-19 during pregnancy do not have COVID-19 when they are born, but some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth. We don’t know if these newborns got the virus before, during, or after birth. Most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered. Reports say some newborns developed severe COVID-19 illness.
The WHO and CDC recommend pregnant women follow the general precautionary measures:
  • Wash your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or soap and water for at least 30 seconds.
  • Keep a safe distance from others and avoid crowded spaces and public transport.
  • Touch your face as little as possible - particularly your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with the crook of your arm or use a paper tissue. Dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched regularly on a daily basis.
  • Wear a mask when in the presence of other people, such as shopping at the supermarket.
If you have a fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Call before going to a health care facility and follow the instructions of your local health authority.
Always call your own midwife, the hospital directly or the emergency services and seek their advice on what to do. If the gynaecologist is available, you can also telephone them.
If you have not been given any alternative instructions, you should also call your own midwife, the hospital directly or the emergency services.
If you feel your child moving regularly, and if you do not develop any heavy bleeding, if your waters have not broken and you feel safer at home, you can stay at home for a while longer before making your way to hospital.
Several types of vaccines from different manufacturers are currently (as of August 2021) in development against the COVID-19 virus. A few of these vaccines are already licensed and in use. The specific vaccines actually in use depend on where you live. How individuals are assigned to risk groups and who is prioritized for vaccination varies from country to country.
How do I decide whether to get vaccinated?
Some background information on vaccination in general is required, in order to assess what is best for you personally. Decide together with your doctor whether the benefits outweigh any possible risks in your situation.
The WHO states pregnant women have an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 if they are infected. Limited data are currently available to assess the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy. However, based on what we know about the kinds of vaccines being used, there is no specific reason for concern. In the interim, WHO recommends vaccination in pregnant women when the benefits of vaccination to the pregnant woman outweighs potential risks. For example, pregnant women with a high risk of infection, (such as those who work in the medical sector), or with comorbidities that place them in a high-risk group for severe COVID-19.
There will be a lot of updates on this topic over the coming weeks and months, and you can expect to regularly receive new information.

Breastfeeding and Coronavirus

If your state of health permits (such as you only have mild symptoms) and if your doctor does not advise against it, according to the WHO, you can continue to breastfeed even if you have COVID-19. Take care to wash your hands thoroughly before and after breastfeeding and cover your mouth and nose with a mask whilst you are breastfeeding.
However, it is essential that you discuss the right approach with your doctor!
Yes. Based on what is known so far, you can transmit the infection, but not via your breast milk. Just like anyone else, your baby can become infected by an infected droplet from the mother. This is especially the case with bottle feeding. When you are physically close to your child, it is possible for them to inhale droplets from coughs and sneezes. This is why the WHO and CDC recommend that you wear a mask when feeding your baby and that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after feeding.
Monitor your newborn for COVID-19 symptoms. If your newborn has one or more of these signs or symptoms, they may have early symptoms of COVID-19 or another illness, and you should contact your healthcare professional.
• Fever (a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher is considered an emergency)
• Lethargy (being overly tired or inactive)
• Runny nose
• Cough
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Poor feeding
• Increased work of breathing or shallow breathing

The risk of infection can be reduced by wearing a mask covering your mouth and nose. The WHO also recommends to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water and that you regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently.
Further, to keep space between yourself and others and to avoid crowded spaces. Wear a mask where it is not possible to keep sufficient physical distance between yourself and others.
Because contact between mother and child is very close at all times and wearing a mask constantly is not possible, it is unclear as to whether this strategy is a successful one. You are best to discuss the right approach with your doctor!
So far, it remains unclear whether COVID-19 can be transmitted to a baby via the mother's breast milk. However, according to the CDC and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, studies conducted to date have NOT found any presence of coronavirus in breast milk.
As the few studies available have not found coronavirus in breast milk (see CDC, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine), you can follow the general recommendations for storing breast milk:
Overview: storage of breast milk
  • At room temperature 4 hours 
  • In the refrigerator (0-4°C) Up to 3 days
  • In the freezer (-20°C) 3 months

Baby and Coronavirus

According to Unicef and the CDC, we know it is possible for people of any age to be infected and transmit the virus, although older people and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions seem more likely to develop serious illness. Since we are still learning how COVID-19 affects children, we cannot say with any certainty what the consequences of a COVID-19 infection would be.
However, children (like adults) with existing lung problems and low immunity due to other conditions have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
The WHO  recommends that parents should take precautions when handling their baby. You should wash your hands before and after touching your baby and keep all surfaces clean. Parents with symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to wear a medical mask, during any contact with the baby.
You should always seek medical care early if you or your child has a fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other symptoms of COVID-19. 
According to what is known is so far, an article in ScienceDirect states that the virus can survive on smooth surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days. On average, it lives for 4-5 days. This timescale may be longer in cold or humid conditions.
Thorough cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces can eliminate the coronavirus.
The coronavirus is more infectious than other pathogens. Therefore, more rigorous hygiene is certainly recommended for items such as pacifiers, bottles and breast pumps. Sterilization every time before use is child's play: some bottles, like the MAM Easy-Start Anti ColicTM, have an integrated sterilizing function. It is also very easy to sterilize all MAM pacifiers in their own sterilizing box in a microwave. Not only is this method quick, it also takes less electricity than boiling.
Parents should also wash their hands thoroughly with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before and after sterilization. Wearing a mask reduces the risks of any potential virus transmission to pacifiers, bottles, and breast pumps whilst they are being sterilized.