Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for a newborn during the COVID-19 pandemic

Advice on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and having visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On this page

Pregnancy

Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful. It’s natural to worry about the effects of the virus on your pregnancy and your unborn baby.

COVID-19 is a new disease and the Government of Canada is still learning how it affects pregnancy. Knowledge of COVID-19 and its impacts continues to change. However, evidence shows that it’s rare to pass COVID-19 to your baby during pregnancy.

The latest scientific evidence shows that COVID-19 doesn’t impact all pregnancies the same way.

If you do get COVID-19 while you’re pregnant, it’s most likely you’ll have mild to moderate symptoms, or none at all. However, in some cases, you may have an increased risk of more severe disease or outcomes, including the need for intensive care.

Pre-existing conditions

If you have a pre-existing condition, you may also be at risk of more severe disease or outcomes. These conditions include:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure 
  • advanced age during pregnancy

If you have a pre-existing condition and are pregnant, you can reduce your risk of getting sick with COVID-19.

Protect yourself and others

During pregnancy, it remains important to use multiple personal preventive practices at once (also called a layered approach). This is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19.

Consider asking your doctor, obstetrician or midwife for telephone or videoconference appointments, if possible. Doing so can help you to avoid in-person interactions with others. 

Childbirth

Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful. It’s normal to feel sad, scared or confused. Talk to your health care provider about how COVID-19 may affect your birth plan and your family after birth.

If you plan to give birth in a hospital or birth centre, talk to your health care provider about:

Learn about the COVID-19 policies regarding support and visitors.

If you plan to give birth at home, talk to your midwife about:

If you have COVID-19, talk to your health care provider about how this may affect giving birth. With proper precautions, breastfeeding, skin-to-skin and rooming-in are recommended at birth.

Your health care provider may consult other specialists for you or your baby as required.

Baby care

Once a baby is born, they can get COVID-19 from other people, so it’s important to limit their contact with others.

To protect yourself and your baby, you should continue to follow recommended personal preventive practices.

We recommend breastfeeding when possible. It has many health benefits and offers the most protection against infection and illness throughout infancy and childhood. Breastmilk isn’t known to transmit COVID-19. Breastfeeding can provide important nutrition for your baby.

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19

General precautions

If you have or think you have COVID-19, you must isolate yourself at home. You can still hold your baby skin-to-skin and stay in the same room as them, especially when bonding and breastfeeding.

You should take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to your baby.

  • When awake, wear a medical mask when you’re in the same room as your baby.
    • If unavailable, properly wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before touching your baby.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that you frequently touch.
  • If sleeping in the same room as your baby:
    • make sure the space is well ventilated
    • maximize the physical distance between you and your baby

Learn more about:

Precautions during feeding

When feeding your baby:

  • put a clean towel on your nursing pillow (if you have one) each time you use it
  • sterilize any breast pump equipment carefully before and after each use by:
    • washing the pump and containers after every use with dishwashing liquid and warm water
    • rinsing with hot water for 10 to 15 seconds
  • don’t share bottles or breast pumps

You may be too ill to breastfeed or provide routine baby care. If so, ask a healthy adult to feed and care for your baby. Ideally, the baby’s caregiver would be someone who is part of your immediate household. As there may be COVID-19 in the home, the baby’s caregiver should:

  • avoid being in a shared space (such as the same room) or having in-person interactions with you
    • if this isn’t possible, they should:
      • make sure interactions are as few, as brief, and occur from the greatest physical distance possible
      • properly wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask
  • avoid direct physical contact with you
    • if direct physical contact is expected, they should wear a medical mask
      • if unavailable, they should properly wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask
  • wash their hands frequently

Learn more about:

Visitors after your baby is born

After your baby is born, friends and family may want to visit and meet your baby. Visitors should not be allowed except for medical purposes. This can be very difficult, but it’s important to keep your family safe. You can help celebrate the birth of your new baby by having virtual visits and using online tools.

Eventually, family and friends will be able to visit, hold and embrace you and your baby in person. Try to remember that this is temporary. Following recommended personal preventive practices is the best way right now to protect your family from COVID-19.

Mental health

Parenting during COVID-19 can be challenging, and pregnancy and postpartum are higher-risk times for mental health issues. During this time, these risks may be even higher. You may not have access to the support and resources you typically would. We encourage parents to talk about their mental health with:

Learn more about taking care of your mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related links

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: