Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People
At Increased Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
- 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 people. Pregnancy causes changes in the body that could make it easier to get very sick from respiratory viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. These changes in the body can continue after pregnancy.
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 getting severely ill from COVID-19, such as:
- Having certain underlying medical conditions
- Being older than 25 years
- Living or working in a community with high numbers of COVID-19 cases
- Living or working in a community with low levels of COVID-19 vaccination
- Working in places where it is difficult or not possible to keep at least 6 feet apart from people who might be sick
- Being part of some racial and ethnic minority groups, which have been put at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 because of the health inequities they face
Pregnant people with COVID-19 are more likely to experience preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and might be more likely to have other poor outcomes related to pregnancy compared to pregnant people without COVID-19. Other poor pregnancy outcomes, such as pregnancy loss, have been reported.
See the latest data on birth and infant outcomes among pregnant women with COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. If you have questions about getting vaccinated, talking with your healthcare professional might help, but is not required.
If you are pregnant and have questions about COVID-19 vaccine
If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, you can 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
When you are fully vaccinated
If you are fully vaccinated, you can participate in many of the activities that you did before the pandemic. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. To maximize protection from variants and prevent possibly spreading the virus to others, fully vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. With the emergence of variants, this is more urgent than ever. 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.
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.
Important Ways to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Find a vaccine.
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
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 center,external icon or health department.
- Talk to your healthcare professional about how to stay healthy and take care of yourself and the baby.
- Ask any 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 pregnant people 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. If someone else is driving you to the emergency department, call the emergency facility while you are on the way. If you must drive yourself, call before you start driving.
- Tell them that you are pregnant or were recently pregnant and are having an emergency.
- 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 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.
- 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 iconexternal 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 iconexternal 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