According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, much is still unknown about the risks of COVID-19 to newborns born to mothers with COVID-19. We do know that:
- Infections causing COVID-19 in newborns born to mothers with COVID-19 are uncommon.
- Some newborns have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 shortly after birth. It is unknown if these newborns got the virus before, during, or after birth from close contact with an infected person.
- Most newborns who tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered. However, there are a few reports of newborns with severe COVID-19 illness.
- Preterm (less than 37 completed weeks gestation) birth and other problems with pregnancy and birth have been reported among women who tested positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. It is unknown whether these problems were related to the virus that causes COVID-19.
Caring for newborns when mom has COVID-19
Decide if your newborn is rooming-in with you in the hospital
CDC recognizes that the ideal setting for the care of a healthy, full-term newborn during the birth hospitalization is within the mother’s room (“rooming-in”). Current evidence suggests that the risk of a newborn getting COVID-19 from its mother is low, especially when she uses appropriate precautions before and during care of the newborn, such as wearing a mask and practicing hand hygiene.
If you are diagnosed with or test positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, you should discuss with your healthcare provider the risks and benefits of having your newborn stay in the same room with you. This conversation should begin during prenatal care if possible. Having your newborn stay with you in the same room has the benefit of facilitating breastfeeding and maternal-newborn bonding. Potential risks may include giving the virus to the newborn, although current evidence suggests the risk of a newborn getting COVID-19 from their mother is low if precautions are taken. After discussing, make an informed decision of whether your newborn is staying in the same room with you while in the hospital.
Take precautions when having your newborn stay in the same room with you, if you are in isolation for COVID-19
If you are in isolation for COVID-19 and are sharing a room with your newborn, take the following precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to your newborn:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before holding or caring for your newborn. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a mask when within 6 feet of your newborn.
- Keep your newborn more than 6 feet away from you as much as possible.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider about using a physical barrier (for example, placing the newborn in an incubator) while in the hospital.
If your isolation period has ended, you should still wash your hands before caring for your newborn, but you don’t need to take the other precautions. You most likely won’t pass the virus to your newborn or any other close contacts after your isolation period has ended.
- If you had symptoms, your isolation period ends after
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and
- 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medications, and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
- If you never had symptoms, your isolation period ends after
- 10 days since the date of your positive COVID-19 test
Take precautions at home if you are in isolation for COVID-19
- Stay home to separate yourself from others outside your home.
- Consider isolating from other household members within your home who are not infected.
- Have a healthy caregiver who is not at increased risk for severe illness provide care for your newborn.
- Caregivers should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before touching your newborn. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- If the caregiver is living in the same home or has been in close contact with you, they should wear a mask when they are within 6 feet of your newborn for the entire time you are in isolation and for two weeks after you completed isolation.
- If a healthy caregiver is not available, you can care for your newborn if you are well enough.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching for your newborn. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a mask when within 6 feet of your newborn and other people during your entire isolation period. The mask helps prevent you from spreading the virus to others.
Others in your household and caregivers who have COVID-19 should isolate and avoid caring for the newborn as much as possible. If they have to care for the newborn, they should practice hand hygiene and wear a mask.
Do not put a face shield or mask on your baby
A face shield could increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation and strangulation. Babies move frequently. Their movement may cause the plastic face shield to block their nose and mouth, or cause the strap to strangle them.
There are also no data supporting the use of face shields among babies for protection against COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses.
CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household. CDC does not recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks for the general public, including pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Ensure safe sleep for your baby
Safe sleep is an important part of keeping babies healthy.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of babies may experience increased stress and fatigue that could affect their ability to ensure that their baby is sleeping safely. Help reduce your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths by doing the following:
- Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times – naps and at night.
- Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a crib covered by a fitted sheet.
- Have the baby share your room but not your bed. Your baby shouldn’t sleep on an adult bed, cot, air mattress, couch, or chair, whether he or she is sleeping alone, with you, or with anyone else.
- Keep soft bedding, such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys, out of your baby’s sleep area.
- Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Signs your baby may be getting too hot include sweating or his or her chest feeling hot.
- Don’t smoke or allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
Learn more about how to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Bring your baby for newborn visits
Ideally, newborn visits are done in person so that your baby’s healthcare provider can
- Check how you and your baby are doing overall.
- Check your baby’s growth and feeding.
- Check your baby for jaundice.
- Make sure your baby’s newborn screening tests were done (including a bloodspot, hearing test, and a test for critical congenital heart defects) and do any repeat or follow-up testing, if necessary.
Make sure to call and notify your baby’s healthcare provider before visiting if you or your baby have COVID-19.
Information from the Center for Disease Control: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019