- Take measures to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19 exposure.
- Practice good cleaning habits to stop the spread.
- Check with your provider to find out what safety precautions they have in place before you arrive.
- Keep up with your all your appointments and care treatments.
These times are uncertain and new to all of us. We want to give you some helpful advice on how to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says pregnant people are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and may have a higher chance for pregnancy complications. Just like everyone else, babies can be infected when close to someone that has COVID-19. However, the latest evidence suggests that the chances of a new mother giving her baby COVID-19 is low. Luckily, so far most babies that have tested positive had mild or no symptoms and fully recovered.
How COVID-19 Spreads
The main way the virus spreads is from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. We all spread droplets when we talk, sing, cough or sneeze. Being in close contact, or closer than 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes, with someone who has COVID-19 puts you at risk. It’s important to always practice protective measures because while some people get very sick, others don’t have symptoms and may not know they have the virus (asymptomatic).
What You Can Do
Here are our recommendations:
- Limit your interactions with people outside your household. While it is difficult missing your loved ones, avoiding other people is the best way to protect you and your baby from COVID-19. Instead, schedule time with loved ones to talk on the phone or video chat.
- Consider how risky the activity you are planning is when deciding whether to go out or getting together with friends. Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. Eating with people outside your household is risky because you can’t wear your mask when eating. Going on walks or sitting outside at a park with masks are safer choices.
- Social distance when you have to go out. When out in public it is important to keep at least 6 feet between you and other people whenever possible.
- Wear a tightly fitted face mask and layer them up when you go out. Put on a disposable mask then your cloth mask, or you can wear a cloth mask with multiple layers. Read more mask options here. You can find both kinds at most grocery stores. Wearing a mask not only helps protect you but also those around you. Never put a mask or face shield on a child under 2 years old because they could suffocate.
- Keep a go-kit with you with a cloth mask, tissues, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Try not to travel to stop the spread.
Good Cleaning Habits
The CDC recommends frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are not home, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Wipe down surfaces you may touch a lot such as doorknobs, steering wheels, or cell phones regularly with antibacterial cleaner. Avoid touching your face. Make sure to clean your mask properly.
According to our current understanding, it has not been found that breastmilk will spread the COVID-19 virus. However, it’s a good idea to take precautions during feedings. Wash your hands before every feeding. Don’t share breastfeeding pumps or pump parts with anyone else, and thoroughly clean them after feedings. Wear a mask as you breastfeed if you are worried you may have COVID-19 or you have COVID-19.
Keep Up With Care
Going into a hospital or provider’s office may seem like a risky thing to do right now, but skipping them is not the better choice. Routine prenatal, postpartum, and pediatric appointments are important opportunities for your providers to check in with you and your baby’s health.
Pregnancy and postpartum can be an overwhelming time, especially during a pandemic. Your provider can make sure you are getting any needed mental health care and support. If you have concerns due to being immunocompromised or the lack of safety measures used by the clinic, see if you can opt for a telehealth appointment instead.
Never delay emergency care due to fears about COVID-19. If you or your baby needs emergency care and you suspect one of you has COVID-19, call the hospital or urgent care center before going to let them know.
There currently are two COVID-19 vaccines that are approved for adults. While there is no data yet specifically for pregnant women, experts including the Georgia Department of Public Health, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC all agree that pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should have the option to get a vaccine if they are eligible and choose to receive it. If you are interested in learning more about vaccines and when a vaccine will be available to you or how to get one, check with your provider or call the GA COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (888) 357 – 0169.
What If I Get Sick?
If you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 and are pregnant, call your provider within 24 hours – they will tell you how to best care for yourself. If you are sick and have a newborn, talk to your child’s provider about the best way to protect your baby. Find other family members who can help you care for your baby while you recover. Wear a face covering, try to stay at least 6 feet away from your baby as much as possible, and wash your hands frequently.
If you need to breastfeed but are concerned you have COVID-19, you can wear a mask and use the cleaning methods above to help protect your baby. If you have a partner or another caregiver who is not infected, they can do skin-to-skin with the baby to compensate for the time away from you. Bonding time with a caregiver can keep your baby happy and healthy while you get better. As long as you are not severely ill, you can still care for your baby even if you have COVID-19.
Check out our toolkit for more tips on staying healthy!
Need to get tested? Think you’ve been exposed? Click here for testing sites in GA. You can also get tested through your provider or using an at-home test! You can also follow GA DPH guidance for possible exposure and quarantine.
This blog has been updated as of February 11th, 2021 to reflect the latest findings and guidance about COVID-19.