COVID-19 & Pregnancy

Updated information about coronavirus for pregnant women and their families


Blog: Coronavirus, pregnancy and baby

Our blog is monitoring current information about possible impact of novel coronavirus on pregnant women and their unborn babies.

There is currently a lot of information on the internet regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy, not all of which is necessarily accurate. Our goal is to help you stay up to date as much as possible; however, we are not responsible for any of this information as the situation is rapidly evolving.

We recommend following the last updated PHE, NHS and RCOG guidelines where possible.

Common Q&As relating to coronavirus and pregnancy

Q. Does being pregnant increase my chance of being seriously ill from COVID-19
At the moment, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop the COVID-19. Generally, it is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu-like symptoms.

Q. What can I do to reduce my risk of contracting COVID-19
The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of infection is to follow government guidance. For pregnant women, and the rest of their households, this includes:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue and discarding this immediately and washing your hands
  • Avoiding contact with individuals displaying symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, and/or a new and continuous cough
  • Avoiding non-essential travel, which includes the use of public transport
  • Working from home, where possible
  • Avoiding any gatherings and public places
  • Avoiding gatherings with friends and family, keeping in touch over the phone or internet instead
  • Contacting your GP or other essential services over the phone rather than attending these places in person

Q. Can COVID-19 cause a miscarriage?
Currently, it is not believed that COVID-19 increases the risk of miscarriage.

Q. Can COVID-19 pass from an infected mother to the unborn child?
In majority of the cases there is no transfer of the baby to the fetus. There is a single report that the mother may have passed on coronavirus infection to the baby. This case is still under review by various doctors. In the very few cases where newborns have developed COVID-19, the symptoms have been very mild and the babies are all well.

Q. Does COVID-19 infection predispose my baby to physical anomalies?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is associated with an increased chance for physical fetal anomalies.

Q. Can COVID-19 cause problems to my baby’s development?
It is important to remember that guidance is always changing; however, according to the current evidence, it is unlikely that there would be problems with the baby’s development if the mother has the virus. The RCOG is closely monitoring all cases and updating all information regarding the risk of pregnancy and COVID-19.

The new RCOG guidelines recommend referral to antenatal ultrasound services for fetal growth surveillance, 14 days following resolution of acute illness (with hospitalisation for confirmed COVID-19 illness). This recommendation is based on the fact that during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks (in 2002 and 2004), up to two thirds of pregnancies with SARS were affected by fetal growth restrictions (FGR).

COVID-19 is a different type of coronavirus (not the original SARS-CoV), therefore this policy is just precautionary until more information is collected about the novel coronavirus.

Q. Can COVID-19 affect my baby’s brain development?
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 affects the baby’s brain development. Generally speaking, abnormal brain development due to infection is quite rare. There are only a few reported infections that can cause fetal brain anomalies. These include cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasma, rubella, and Zika viruses. Flu and common cold-like pathogens are NOT associated with abnormal fetal neurodevelopment. At the moment, there are NO reports of abnormal brain development associated with COVID-19.

Q. Can COVID-19 lead to premature delivery?
Some babies born to women with symptoms of coronavirus in China have been born prematurely. At present it is unclear whether coronavirus caused early labour, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early in order to preserve the mother’s health.

Q. I am pregnant, can I still have COVID-19 and have no symptoms?
As of now, it is believed that a proportion of people infected by the novel virus will only have mild cold/flu-like symptoms. There is no reason to believe that pregnant women cannot have very mild COVID-19 disease.

Q. What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 or believe that I have been exposed?
If you are pregnant and have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay home for 7 days. Please do not go to your GP surgery, pharmacy, or hospital. You do not need to contact NHS 111 to inform them that you are self-isolating and you will not need a test for COVID-19. Currently, only people with severe symptoms who require overnight admission to hospital will be tested. However, we recommend that you contact your maternity unit to inform them that you have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, particularly if you have a routine appointment scheduled for the next 7 days.

You should consult the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 if:

  • You feel that you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition is getting worse
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

If you have concerns about the wellbeing of yourself or your unborn child while you are self-isolating, contact your midwife or out-of-hours maternity team. They will be able to provide you with further advice and let you know whether you should attend hospital.

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