Are you pregnant or a new parent and have COVID-19? Not sure what you should do? Our nurse Ella Shapiro shares some information that might help.
Getting COVID when you are pregnant can affect the health of you and your baby. Most pregnant people who get COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, but some pregnant people could get very sick, need intensive care in hospital, have a preterm birth (deliver early), and other complications. Let your health care provider know if you are pregnant and have symptoms. Talk to them about your risks and whether you should get tested. Pregnant individuals are currently eligible for publicly funded PCR testing in Ontario.
Getting two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster, are effective in protecting you and your baby from getting seriously ill or being hospitalized with COVID-19. The antibodies created by the COVID 19 vaccine can offer protection to your baby and are passed through the placenta and/or in your breast milk. Talk to your doctor or midwife to understand the benefits of getting the vaccine compared to the risks of getting the COVID-19 infection.
Breastfeeding and Caring for Baby:
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19, you can still hold your baby skin-to-skin, stay in the same room as them and breastfeed. Research suggests that breast milk isn’t likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to babies. As breast milk provides many health benefits including protection from illnesses, breastfeeding is recommended even if you have tested positive for COVID 19.
If you have COVID-19, follow these steps to lower the chance of spreading the virus to your baby:
- wear a well-fitted mask whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby and while breastfeeding,
- wash your hands with soap and water before touching your baby.
If you feel too sick to breastfeed or are separated from your baby, you can hand express or pump your milk at least eight times in 24 hours, including once during the night, to maintain your breastmilk supply. The expressed breastmilk may be fed to your baby from a cup, spoon or bottle by someone who is well.
Monitor your symptoms:
Whether pregnant, breastfeeding or caring for baby, it’s important that you monitor your symptoms and know when to seek medical attention. If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold, or you are concerned about any symptoms that you or your baby are experiencing, call your health care provider or Tele-Health Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
If you tested positive for COVID 19, you are still at risk of re-infection. You and you and your entire household should follow public health measures and get fully vaccinated including a booster dose once your isolation period has ended and symptoms have resolved.
The COVID 19 vaccines are safe and are strongly recommended when planning a pregnancy, as soon as possible during pregnancy, and when breastfeeding and/or caring for baby.