COVID-19 testing may be included in your care plan when you give birth at any hospital in the Memorial Hermann Health System. Some expectant mothers can be carriers of the virus without any symptoms. Reliable testing is now readily available, and the test result is important for planning for the health and safety of all mothers and newborn babies. Talk to your healthcare provider about your testing plan.

Potential risks include:

  • Discomfort during sample collection
  • False negative test result

Potential benefits include:

  • The results, along with other information, can help your healthcare provider make informed recommendations about care for you and your baby
  • The results of this test may help limit the spread of COVID-19 to your baby, family and others in your community

You will receive routine obstetrical care, with special precautions.

If your test results are positive, your provider will discuss the plan of care for you and your baby. Staff will take extra precautions to maintain the safety of you and your baby to prevent any potential exposure.

There is little evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted from mom to baby during pregnancy or delivery. However, a few reports exist of newborns as young as a few days old that have contracted COVID-19, suggesting that mother-to-baby transmission of the disease can occur through close contact after delivery (for example, through respiratory droplets). Currently approximately 2 percent of infants born to women who test positive for COVID-19 near the time of delivery have tested positive in the first 24-96 hours after birth.

The decision about how to care for you and your baby will be based on whether you are sick or have symptoms, as well as any other risk factors that may affect your baby. Your baby’s doctor will discuss the recommended plan of care based on all of these factors.  If you are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic you may be able to room in with your baby, taking special precautions

After a discussion about the risks and benefits of your choice with your doctor, your decision will be respected. Your healthcare team will take extra precautions to protect themselves from the potential risk while caring for you and your baby.

No. He or she will be screened upon entering the hospital according to symptoms and temperature, as well as given a mask to wear at all times in the hospital. This is in an effort to preserve availability of tests for all of our patients and workforce throughout our healthcare system.

You can make this decision together with your family and health care team. Studies have confirmed that there is no contagious virus in human milk from mothers with acute infection. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports breastfeeding as the best choice for infant feeding, even if the mother and/or her infant is infected with the virus. Direct breastfeeding is encouraged if you are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

If you are COVID-19 positive and asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and choose to breastfeed:

Wear a facemask and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. See the CDC’s handwashing tips.

If you are COVID-19 positive and choose to express breast milk:

  • Prior to expressing milk, put on a facemask
  • Express breast milk to establish and maintain milk supply
  • Use a dedicated breast pump
  • Wash hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and before expressing breast milk
  • Follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use, cleaning all parts that come into contact with breast milk
  • If possible, consider having someone who is not sick/infected feed your expressed breast milk to the infant

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been diagnosed, you can take the following steps to avoid passing the virus to your baby:

  • Wear a mask during close contact with your baby.
  • Before touching your baby, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. See the CDC’s handwashing tips.
  • Maintain 6 feet of separation between you and your newborn as much as possible.
  • Using a curtain/screen between you and your newborn.
  • A non-infected caregiver may also care for the baby, after hand hygiene and while wearing a mask.

The CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19. During pregnancy, there is an increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to a COVID-19 infection. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness.