The Omicron variant has been present in the Netherlands since the beginning of 2022. An infection with Omicron often leads to a less severe course of illness compared to the previous variants. Even so, omicron can also make you very ill. Fortunately, the number of pregnant women admitted to hospital with severe COVID-19 has been decreasing.
The recommendations regarding COVID-19 were revised on 10 March 2023. The content on this page will be updated accordingly very soon.
During pregnancy, you do have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. That is why it remains particularly important to get vaccinated in accordance with the COVID-19 vaccination programme, if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. The COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna (mRNA vaccines) can be safely administered during pregnancy. The booster vaccination can also be administered safely. This also applies to the repeat vaccination against COVID-19 (second booster) which is advised for adults with severely impaired immunity.
Some people have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they have COVID-19 during pregnancy. This applies to pregnant women who are:
- over 35 years old
- overweight (BMI=30 or higher)
- from a non-Western migration background
Based on the data currently available, there are no indications that COVID-19 poses an increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects.
Transmission of the virus from mother to child may sometimes occur during pregnancy, but scientific knowledge about how often this happens and at what point during the pregnancy is limited (WHO). More research is needed. More information about pregnancy and COVID-19 is provided below.
For information for healthcare professionals, see the guidelines on Pregnancy, (work) and COVID-19 (in Dutch).
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy
Like other respiratory infections that can cause fever and pneumonia, COVID-19 can often cause a more serious course of illness in pregnant women. This is mainly because lung capacity decreases as the pregnancy grows.
Vaccination during pregnancy
Pregnant women do have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and developing complications during pregnancy. As a result, they are more likely to be admitted to hospital or ICU.
Vaccination with an mRNA vaccine during pregnancy is safe, effective and very important for pregnant women. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC: the American equivalent of RIVM) also urgently advises pregnant women to be vaccinated; this includes the booster vaccination and repeat vaccination against COVID-19. If the basic series of COVID-19 vaccinations was completed at least 3 months ago, the booster vaccination can be given at any time during pregnancy. See the page on COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy for more information.
Pregnancy and work
If you are pregnant and in good health, you can in principle continue working. Do make sure to follow the national measures and the prevailing hygiene measures, rules and protocols at your work. If you are pregnant and in one of the risk groups for COVID-19, then it is important to talk to your employer and review your individual situation. The company doctor will advise you in this context, and you can also choose to involve a treating physician or care provider, such as a gynaecologist or a midwife. If you work in healthcare or childcare, for example in healthcare or childcare, your employer may have implemented a specific policy for pregnant employees. Ask your employer if that is the case. You can always feel free to request advice from the company doctor.
Precautions during pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you do not have to take extra precautions in addition to the basic recommendations. The most important measures to prevent the spread of the virus are:
- If you have symptoms, stay home and get tested by the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD)
- Stay 1.5 metres from others
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and in any case always wash your hands when you arrive at home
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Use paper tissues and discard them after use
Symptoms during pregnancy?
Are you pregnant and not feeling well? Keep a close eye on how you feel. COVID-19 can cause various symptoms. Some people may not have any symptoms at all, while others may become seriously ill. This also applies during pregnancy.
Possible symptoms of COVID-19
- Cold symptoms (such as a nasal cold, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat)
- Shortness of breath
- Elevated temperature or fever
- Sudden loss of smell and/or taste (without nasal congestion)
If you have these symptoms, stay home and test for COVID-19. This helps prevent you from infecting others. Keep 1.5 metres (two arm-lengths) from other people at all times. Other than the test, do not leave the house at all until you have received a negative test result (no COVID-19).
Symptoms and/or high fever?
Are you pregnant and showing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and/or running a high fever? Then contact your doctor or midwife immediately. High fever can induce contractions. If you are in doubt or have questions, call your doctor or midwife for advice.
Can I give birth in the hospital?
Yes, you can give birth in the hospital. Discuss this with your midwife.
I have a SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19). Can I give birth at home?
Consult with your midwife whether you can give birth at home.
Taking care of your newborn baby if you have COVID-19
Contact with your baby is important and strengthens the bond between parent and child. If one of the parents or carers has COVID-19, it is important to take extra precautions while caring for the baby. These extra precautions will minimise the risk of passing the virus on to your baby. Children often do not get very ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is still important to ensure your child does not become infected.
Extra precautions during bottle feeding, breastfeeding and baby care
There are no indications that a baby can be infected with the virus through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has many advantages. It is fine to breastfeed your baby, even if you have COVID-19.
During breastfeeding, bottle feeding, baby care, and direct contact such as cuddling, it is important to take the following extra precautions:
- Maintain good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly beforehand every time you feed and/or care for the baby.
- Wear a medical face mask (type II) that covers your nose and mouth if you are close to your baby (less than 1.5 metres). The medical face mask can be used a maximum of three times (or for three hours in a row).
These recommendations apply until the person is no longer contagious, and also apply to other members of the same household if they have COVID-19. For more information on how long you might be contagious, see the RIVM page on quarantine and self-isolation.
Parents/carers who are not infected do not have to wear a face mask. However, they are advised to apply the hygiene measures thoroughly every time they have direct contact with the baby.
Do you have symptoms associated with COVID-19? Then stay home and test. The midwife, maternity nurse or your GP can give you more information about taking care of your newborn baby if you have COVID-19.
Frequently asked questions about pregnancy and COVID-19
I work in a hospital or other care institution (in an intramural care context). Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
Up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, you can continue to perform your normal work activities, including caring for COVID-19 patients. Obviously, you must follow the applicable protocols and measures for personal protection (for example by using a face mask that covers your mouth and nose). From 28 weeks on, it is not recommended to continue providing intensive care related to COVID-19 to patients with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. This also applies if you are vaccinated. However, you can continue to do replacement work; if necessary, you can consult the company doctor about this.
I work in healthcare, but not in a hospital or other care institution. (I work in extramural care for example, as GP or district nurse). Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
Up to 28 weeks of pregnancy, you can continue to perform your normal work activities, including caring for COVID-19 patients. Obviously, you must follow the applicable protocols and measures for personal protection (for example by using a face mask that covers your mouth and nose). From 28 weeks on, you are no longer permitted to continue providing intensive care related to COVID-19 to patients with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this case, you should be offered suitable alternative work; if necessary, you can consult the company doctor about this. This also applies if you are vaccinated.
I am pregnant and work at a childcare facility, school or after-school childcare centre. Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
Within these professions, there are no restrictions before the start of maternity leave. If you are pregnant and have any questions, the company doctor can give advice tailored to your situation.
I work in some other profession. Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
In all other professions, you can continue working until the start of maternity leave. If you have any questions, the company doctor can advise you.
I am pregnant. Is it safe to get vaccinated?
Yes, COVID-19 vaccination with an mRNA vaccine is safe and effective. Now that you are pregnant, vaccination is especially important. COVID-19 can lead to a more serious course of illness in pregnant women and can cause complications, which could also affect the unborn baby.
Vaccination is also safe during breastfeeding, since there are no indications that the vaccine enters the breast milk.
If you are pregnant, you can still get the booster vaccination when you are invited to do so. Side-effects after the booster dose are not expected to be more frequent or more severe than after the first series of vaccinations. The Dutch Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG) also recommends a booster vaccination for pregnant women in its position statement on COVID-19 vaccination in the context of pregnancy (in Dutch). See the page on COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy for more information.
I am pregnant. Should I get a booster vaccination now?
If you are pregnant, you can still get a COVID-19 booster vaccination. As a pregnant woman, you do have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. This can have consequences for mother and child. The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have been found to be safe for pregnant women. The Dutch Society for Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG) also recommends a booster vaccination for pregnant women in its position statement on COVID-19 vaccination in the context of pregnancy. This recommendation also applies to the repeat vaccination against COVID-19 (second booster) which is advised for adults with severely impaired immunity.