Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People
At increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
What You Need to Know
- Although the overall risk of severe illness is low, pregnant people and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people.
- Having certain underlying medical conditions, and other factors, including age, can further increase a pregnant or recently pregnant (for at least 42 days following end of pregnancy) person’s risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness.
- Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and might be at increased risk for other poor pregnancy outcomes.
- Pregnant and recently pregnant people and those who live with or visit them need to take steps to protect themselves from getting sick with COVID-19.
Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people1-4. Changes that occur in the body during pregnancy that increase risk for severe illness from respiratory viral infections like COVID-19 can continue after pregnancy. For example, increased risk for developing blood clots during pregnancy can continue after pregnancy and increase the risk for severe illness, as in recently pregnant people with H1N1 influenza.
Severe illness means that a person with COVID-19 may need:
- Intensive care
- A ventilator or special equipment to help them breathe
People with COVID-19 who become severely ill can die. See why pregnancy is included in the list of underlying medical conditions that increase a person’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Certain Factors Can Increase Risk
Other factors can further increase a pregnant or recently pregnant person’s risk for experiencing severe illness from COVID-19, such as having certain underlying medical conditions or being older than 25 years3. People with an underlying medical condition should continue to follow the treatment plan prescribed by their healthcare provider.
The environments where pregnant and recently pregnant people live, learn, work, play, and worship can also affect their health risks and outcomes, such as getting sick with COVID-19 or developing severe illness. For example, people such as pregnant healthcare workers who work in places where they cannot keep at least 6 feet apart from people who might be sick are more likely to get sick and develop severe illness from COVID-19. Also, longstanding systemic health and social inequities have put pregnant people from some racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19.
Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth2,5 (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and might be at increased risk for other poor outcomes related to pregnancy compared to pregnant people without COVID-19. Other poor pregnancy outcomes, such as pregnancy loss2, have been reported.
See the latest data on birth and infant outcomes among pregnant women with COVID-19.
If you are pregnant or were recently pregnant you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with your healthcare professional might help, but is not required.
If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, please contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. The free and confidential service is available Monday–Friday 8am–5pm (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:
- Call 1-866-626-6847
- Chat live or send an email MotherToBabyexternal iconexternal icon
If you decide to get vaccinated, you may be able to start doing some things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic after you are fully vaccinated. Learn more about what you can do when you have been fully vaccinated.
It is especially important for pregnant and recently pregnant people, and those who live or visit with them, to take steps to protect themselves and others from getting COVID-19.
There may be no way to have zero risk of infection, so it is important to know how to be as safe as possible. Consider your own personal situation and the risk for you, your family, and your community when deciding whether to go out or to interact with people who do not live with you. Ensure you and the people who live or visit with you are taking steps to protect yourself and others.
The best ways to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 are to:
- Consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine for yourself and for others who live with you. Everyone age 12 years or older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have questions about getting vaccinated.
- CDC has updated recommendations for fully vaccinated people. If you are fully vaccinated, see CDC’s page When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
- Limit in-person interactions with people who might have been exposed to COVID-19, including people within your household, as much as possible. If you or someone in your household is sick with COVID-19, follow guidance for isolation.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.
- In general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings.
- In areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
- If you are fully vaccinated and have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may need to keep taking steps to protect yourself, like wearing a mask. Talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take to manage your health and risks.
- If you are fully vaccinated, see When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Then wash your hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces daily using household cleaners, such as soap or detergent.
- Keep at least a 30-day supply of prescription and nonprescription medicines. Talk to your healthcare professional, insurer, or pharmacist about getting an extra supply (for example, more than 30 days) of prescription medicines, if possible, to reduce trips to the pharmacy.
Keep all of your healthcare appointments during and after pregnancy. Visit with your healthcare provider for all recommended appointments. If you’re concerned about going to your appointments in person because of COVID-19, ask your healthcare professional what steps they are taking to protect patients from COVID-19, or ask about telemedicine options. If you need help finding a healthcare professional, contact your nearest hospital clinic, community health centerexternal icon or health department.
- Talk to your healthcare professional about how to stay healthy and take care of yourself and the baby.
- Ask questions you have about the best place to deliver your baby. Delivering a baby is always safest under the care of trained healthcare professionals.
- You should also talk to your healthcare professional if you think you are experiencing depression during or after pregnancy.
- Get recommended vaccines during pregnancy. These vaccines can help protect you and your baby.
- Get a flu vaccine every year. Others living in your household should also get vaccinated to protect themselves and you.
- Get the Tdap vaccine to protect your baby against whooping cough, which can have similar symptoms to COVID-19. CDC recommends all women receive a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy. In addition, everyone who is around the baby should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccine.
- Call your healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your pregnancy, if you get sick, or if you think that you may have COVID-19.
- Do not delay getting emergency care because of worries about getting COVID-19. Emergency departments have steps in place to protect you from getting COVID-19 if you need medical care. If you need emergency help, call 911 right away.
- Tell them that you are pregnant or were recently pregnant and are having an emergency. If someone else is driving to the emergency department, call while you are on the way. If you must drive yourself, call before you start driving.
- Seek medical care immediately if you experience any urgent maternal warning signs and symptoms (for example, headache that won’t go away, dizziness, fever, severe swelling of hand, face, arm or leg, trouble breathing, chest pain or fast-beating heart, severe nausea and throwing up, or vaginal bleeding or discharge during or after pregnancy). These symptoms could indicate a potentially life-threatening complication.
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your healthcare professional within 24 hours, and follow steps for when you feel sick.
- If you or someone you know has COVID-19 emergency warning signs (for example, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone), call 911 or call ahead to your local emergency facility.
- Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.
- If you think you might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, contact your nearest community health centerexternal icon or health department.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, learn about breastfeeding and caring for newborns when the mother has COVID-19. Current evidence suggests that breast milk is not likely to spread the virus to babies.
Read information about breastfeeding and caring for newborns.
- Zambrano LD, Ellington S, Strid P, et al. Update: Characteristics of Symptomatic Women of Reproductive Age with Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Pregnancy Status — United States, January 22–October 3, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1641–1647. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6944e3.external icon
- Allotey, J., et al., Clinical manifestations, risk factors, and maternal and perinatal outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 in pregnancy: living systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2020. 370: p. m3320. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m3320external icon
- Galang RR, Newton SM, Woodworth KR, et al. Risk factors for illness severity among pregnant women with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection – Surveillance for Emerging Threats to Mothers and Babies Network, 22 state, local, and territorial health departments, March 29, 2020 -January 8, 2021. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2021; ciab432. doi:1093/cid/ciab432external icon
- Ko JY, DeSisto CL, Simeone RM, et al. Adverse pregnancy outcomes, maternal complications, and severe illness among U.S. delivery hospitalizations with and without a COVID-19 diagnosis [published online ahead of print, 2021 May 12]. Clin Infect Dis. 2021;ciab344. doi:10.1093/cid/ciab344external icon
- Woodworth KR, Olsen EO, Neelam V, et al. Birth and Infant Outcomes Following Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Pregnancy — SET-NET, 16 Jurisdictions, March 29–October 14, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1635–1640. DOI:10.15585/mmwr.mm6944e2external icon
- COVID-19 Toolkit for Pregnant People and New Parents
- Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for Women who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns
- Urgent Maternal Warning Signs
- Things to Know about the COVID-19 Pandemic
- How to Protect Yourself & Others
- What to Do If You Are Sick
- Coping with Stress
- Frequently Asked Questions