Pregnancy and Childbirth During COVID-19
It’s compassionate maternity teams.
Read our visitor policy, updated in accordance with a recent CDPH health order. We have answers to common questions related to maternity and COVID-19. Confirm visitation rules and hours with your local hospital. Contact your provider for more information about pre- and postnatal care.
Frequently Asked Questions
We know families may have some questions or concerns about being in a hospital right now.
You’re allowed to bring up to two support people with you; a doula is included in this limit. Masks are required in healthcare settings regardless of vaccine status.
Upon arrival to the hospital, laboring patients will be screened for COVID-19 and given a mask.
Sutter hospitals are providing COVID-19 swab testing for laboring mothers. Your COVID-19 status informs our staff what level of PPE they need and the level of care you and your newborn may need.
Please review our updated visitor guidelines.
- Clinicians may alter prenatal appointment schedules to minimize the number of times you need to leave home.
- Tours, prenatal classes and outpatient lactation support are being offered remotely. As COVID-19 rates decrease in some communities, some small group in-person classes may be available.
These adjustments allow our teams to offer you prenatal education and postnatal support.
Labor and Delivery
- Pandemic or not, we follow strict guidelines to keep the hospital clean and safe.
- The labor and delivery staff take precautions when caring for patients each day, so these procedures are not new.
- Your care team will provide additional information about arriving at the hospital. Be sure to ask them any questions you have about coming to the hospital to deliver your baby.
You can bring up to two support people with you, who could include your partner, a family member, friend or doula. Masks are required in healthcare settings regardless of vaccine status.
- All patients and visitors must be masked while at the hospital.
- Expectant mothers and their support people don’t need to be masked while they are in their room, unless healthcare workers are present. The same masking protocols apply during postpartum and newborn care.
- You may bring personal items such as sweats/pajamas and your favorite pillow.
- Your support people should also bring in personal items such as medication and toiletries.
- Parents are encouraged to bring in their car seat (leaving the base secured and fastened in the car) upon arrival, so you won’t have to leave the building to retrieve it later.
- You may also want to bring a cooler with any special snacks/foods you’d like to have in your room.
- Our teams are available to provide you postpartum support. Some resources may be online rather than in person.
- Your care team will share resources, including lactation support, postpartum classes and referrals for pump rentals.
You and your partner are welcome to spend time with your baby in the NICU.
- All visitors must pass symptom screening and follow all masking and other infection control measures.
- You and your partner must wear masks in the NICU. Masks are required in healthcare settings regardless of vaccine status.
- If you or your partner have any symptoms or are feeling ill, please call the NICU ahead of time to ask if you’re able to come to the NICU.
- If you’re discharged before your baby, limit your entry and exit to the NICU.
- We want you and your partner to have time with your baby at the bedside, but there may be times when one or both of you may need to step away to maintain social distancing.
COVID-19 Positive Mothers
- If you test positive for the virus, precautions will be taken before, during and after the birth.
- Your provider will be notified and will discuss care during your pregnancy. If you’re close to your due date your provider will discuss the plan for your admission to the hospital.
- Watch for symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath (seek care right away if you have difficulty breathing), fever (over 100.0 F or higher), chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue (feeling tired or weak), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite and report any illness or changes to your doctor.
According to the CDC, pregnant people and those who have recently given birth are more likely to become severely ill with COVID-19.
The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mainly by close contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets. Few cases of COVID-19 have been reported in newborns.
The majority of pregnant people with COVID-19 have given birth to healthy babies.
We recommend family members who have been in close contact with you discuss testing and monitoring with their primary doctor.
They should watch for symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath (seek care right away if they have difficulty breathing), fever (over 100.0 F or higher), chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, fatigue (feeling tired or weak), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, and report any illness to their doctor.
You’re allowed to have two support people with you, including a doula/birth coach. Your support people may be present at the same time and must follow must follow health and safety requirements and instructions, including symptom screening, hand hygiene, distancing, and masking and PPE protocols.
Please confirm the visitation rules at your hospital since local and county orders can vary.
During labor, some things may be a little different from what you expected.
- You’ll have a dedicated nurse, and fewer staff will come in and out of your room. Some communications may be done over the phone instead of face-to-face.
- You’ll need to wear a mask. Those taking care of you will wear masks, eye shields, gowns and gloves.
- Being COVID-19 positive doesn't affect the mode of delivery (vaginal birth versus cesarean birth) or your choice of pain control.
You’ll work with your provider and pediatrician to make care decisions.
A healthy person may visit the baby and participate in their care. Your baby’s pediatrician will provide information on how to care for your baby when you’re discharged from the hospital.
In limited studies, COVID-19 hasn’t been detected in breast milk. However, we don’t know for sure whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk.
We recommend washing your hands prior to directly breastfeeding or pumping.
If you choose to directly breastfeed, wear a mask and wash your hands before each feeding.
If you choose to express breast milk:
- Express breast milk to establish and maintain milk supply.
- A dedicated breast pump will be provided.
COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy and Postpartum
According to the CDC, evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. Current data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination.
According to the CDC, while the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is low, pregnant people with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness. This includes illness that results in ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and death compared with nonpregnant women of reproductive age. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 might be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19.
CDC guidance strongly recommends that all people 5 years and older get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now or who might become pregnant in the future. COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. In addition, there’s no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus. This means the vaccines cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
Vaccines are designed to stimulate the human body’s own protective immune response, so if a person is infected, their immune system can recognize the infection and react to it. According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are effective at helping to protect against COVID-19 disease, and significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death for those who are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters. Although the vaccines are highly effective, some people who are fully vaccinated will get COVID-19, known as a breakthrough infection. Fully vaccinated people with a vaccine breakthrough infection can be contagious but are less likely to develop serious illness than those who are unvaccinated and get COVID-19.
Clinical trials for the current COVID-19 vaccines haven’t included people who are breastfeeding, and the effects of vaccination are still not fully known. In general, it’s possible to pass protection in the form of antibodies to your baby through breastfeeding. A study from Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon revealed that after a COVID-19 vaccination, it appeared women were passing antibodies in breast milk that may be protective for infants. As more people are vaccinated, more data will likely become available.
COVID-19 vaccine side effects are not expected to be any different for pregnant people than for non-pregnant people. Side effects can occur after receiving any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. If you receive the mRNA vaccine, the side effects may be greater after the second dose. Side effects often feel like flu symptoms and can start within hours or days of receiving the vaccine. The side effects usually go away within a few days.
Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include:
In the arm where you got the shot:
Throughout the rest of your body:
- Muscle pain
For three weeks after receiving the Janssen/J&J vaccine*, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. These include:
- Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site
* Note: CDC recommends that people who are starting their vaccine series or getting a booster dose get either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (mRNA COVID-19 vaccines). The mRNA vaccines are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in most circumstances, but the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine may be considered in some situations.
Some people have experienced allergic reactions after getting the vaccine. The CDC recommends all vaccine recipients, including pregnant people, talk with their healthcare provider if they have a history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any other vaccines or injections.
If you have symptoms from COVID-19, you should meet all the criteria below before getting a COVID-19 vaccine:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset.
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without use of fever-reducing medications.
- Other symptoms have improved.
- If you tested positive but don’t have symptoms from COVID-19, wait 10 days after the first positive test was collected before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC advises COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may be given at any time. You don’t need to wait between vaccines, and you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day.
It’s helping every way we can.