Based on the data currently available, there is no evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 poses an increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects. However, some risk factors have recently emerged that increase the likelihood of a more severe course of COVID-19 in pregnant women. This mainly applies to pregnant women who are in a risk group. Transmission of the virus from mother to child does sometimes occur, but scientific knowledge about how often this happens and at what point during the pregnancy is limited (WHO). More information about pregnancy and COVID-19 is provided below. For information for healthcare professionals, see the annex to the COVID-19 guidelines (in Dutch) on Pregnancy, (work) and COVID-19.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy
The effects of COVID-19 in a healthy pregnant woman do not appear to be any different (for the child and the mother) than for other respiratory infections that are caused by viruses and can lead to fever and pneumonia.
Pregnant women do have a slightly increased chance of being admitted to hospital or ICU. However, these figures are low. Extra caution in the treatment provided to to pregnant women who are ill may also play a role here. This may lead doctors to admit pregnant women to the ICU sooner as a precaution.
Pregnancy and risk groups
Pregnant women in risk groups have a higher risk of more severe illness from COVID-19. Pregnant women aged 35 and over, who are overweight (BMI of 30 or higher) or from a non-Western background are also at higher risk for a more severe course of illness.
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 involve a treating physician or care provider, such as a gynaecologist or a midwife. If you work 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. This is particularly relevant if you are pregnant and also in one of the COVID-19 risk groups.
No increased risk of miscarriage
Based on the current knowledge, there is no reason to assume that there would be an increased risk of miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or birth defects attributable to an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Precautionary measures for pregnancy
The coronavirus measures also apply during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, you do not have to take extra precautions. The most important measures to prevent infections and transmissions of the virus are:
- Stay home as much as possible
- If you have symptoms, stay home and get tested
- Stay 1.5 metres from others
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and in any case when you arrive at home
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow
- Use paper tissues and discard them after use
- Work from home if possible
- Wear a non-medical face mask in indoor public spaces
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.
Do you have mild symptoms, such as the following?
- 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)
Stay home and get tested. 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 that could indicate 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 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 care
There are no indications that a baby can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has many advantages. It is fine to breastfeed your baby, even if you have COVID-19. Mothers who have had COVID-19 during their pregnancy provide a lot of antibodies in their breast milk. This has become apparent from recent research, and is positive for the baby.
During breastfeeding, bottle feeding, 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 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. These precautions continue to apply until no one in the household is contagious anymore. Consult with the GGD about how long you will be contagious.
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 that could indicate COVID-19? Then stay home and get tested. 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 people with COVID-19. 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 care related to COVID-19. 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 (extramural care; for example, I am a 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 people with COVID-19. 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 care related to COVID-19. In addition, you must be able to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others during your work. If this is not possible, you should be offered suitable alternative work; if necessary, you can consult the company doctor about this.
I am pregnant and work at a childcare facility, school or after-school childcare centre. Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
In principle, you can continue working up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Of course, the national measures and hygiene advice still apply in this context. If you cannot keep 1.5 metres away from others (colleagues, parents/carers and children*) during your work, then it is advisable from 28 weeks of pregnancy to do replacement work that will allow you to maintain distance. If necessary, you can consult the company doctor about this.
*This does not apply if you work with children up to the age of 4. In that case, you may continue to work after 28 weeks of pregnancy. However, you should keep 1.5 metres away from colleagues and parents/carers.
I work in some other profession. Can I continue to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
In principle, you can continue working up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Of course, the national measures and hygiene advice still apply in this context. If you cannot keep 1.5 metres away from others (colleagues or customers) during your work, then it is advisable from 28 weeks of pregnancy to do replacement work that will allow you to maintain distance. If necessary, you can consult the company doctor about this.