Posted Mar 23, 2020 (updated 8.17.21)
We understand that you may be anxious about news of Coronavirus (COVID-19). In general, pregnant women are at higher risk for complications from some viral respiratory infections because their immune defenses are lowered during pregnancy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is currently unknown if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public. It is also unknown whether expecting mothers are more likely to experience serious illness as a result. Pregnant women should take the same precautions as the general public to avoid infection and help stop the spread of COVID-19 by taking these actions:
If you are currently pregnant and under the care of a UCLA obstetrician or planning to deliver your baby at Reagan Medical Center in Westwood or UCLA Santa Monica, the health of you and your baby is our top priority. Given the concerns about the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), UCLA Health is implementing new guidelines. Here’s what you need to know:
We want to assure you that UCLA Health has rigorous infection-prevention protocols. Our infectious disease specialists are highly trained and in continuous contact with local, state and federal public health officials to closely monitor developments. The safety of our patients, staff, faculty, students, trainees, and the general public remains our top priority.
As you know, prenatal visits occur every four weeks in the first and second trimester, every two weeks until 36 weeks and then weekly until birth. We usually check your blood pressure, monitor your weight and check baby’s heart rate at every visit. Given the pandemic of COVID-19, we may modify the schedule and reduce the frequency of these visits based on essential pregnancy testing and indicated medical care during testing. Your provider may offer telehealth visits and limit in-person visits to decrease the potential exposure to COVID-19. Please talk to your physician or midwife and follow their instructions.
Yes. Given UCLA Health’s rigorous infection-prevention protocols, we believe that it is very safe for you to deliver your baby at UCLA-affiliated hospitals.
Based on the CDC recommendations, please do not come to Labor and Delivery, the hospital, or the outpatient clinic setting without calling your provider first to determine if a face-to-face evaluation is needed. Other alternatives may be available.
Any patient with fever and respiratory symptoms, regardless of travel history, will be provided a mask to wear, be placed in their own room promptly, and evaluated by essential health care providers wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Throughout labor and delivery, you will be asked to wear a surgical mask at the time of delivery to decrease potential exposure of the newborn, healthcare personnel, and other labor and delivery patients to infection. To limit possible exposures, no visitors are allowed. For more information about the companion policy, please see: https://www.uclahealth.org/coronavirus
One healthy support person (spouse, partner, etc.) may attend the labor and delivery and remain for the duration of the patient’s stay. A doula can be present for labor and delivery only. Healthy visitors will be educated to clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the patient or the newborn. Nurses will screen all visitors for signs/symptoms of fever and respiratory illness. A visitor with febrile respiratory symptoms will not be allowed to be the support person for a laboring mother. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, and to limit possible exposures, visitors will be restricted from postpartum and nursery. For more detailed information: COVID-19 Coronavirus visitor policy >
If you have confirmed or probable COVID-19, you will likely be moved during the postpartum period to a negative pressure room to prevent potential spread of infection. If you have suspected COVID-19, you will be in a routine postpartum room with the door closed. Transmission of COVID-19 after birth via contact with infectious respiratory secretions remains a concern, but this is based on limited data. It is unknown whether newborns with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe complications, therefore the risks and benefits of temporary separation of you and your baby should be discussed with your healthcare team.
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, according to the CDC, little is known about COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by you in coordination with your family and healthcare providers. If you are temporarily separated from your baby and intend to breastfeed, we encourage you to express your breast milk to establish and maintain milk supply. A dedicated breast pump will be provided. Prior to expressing breast milk, you should practice hand hygiene. If possible, consider having a healthy person feed the expressed breast milk to your baby. If you and your newborn baby are rooming-in and you wish to feed your baby at the breast, you will be asked to wear a new surgical mask and practice hand hygiene before each feeding.
In limited recent case series of infants born to mothers with COVID-19 published in the peer-reviewed literature, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently release new data on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people. The CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves against COVID-19. UCLA Health stands by these recommendations. For more information, see the CDC Media Release and the ACOG News Release.
What do we know about the J&J vaccine in pregnant and lactating individuals so far?
On April 13, 2021, the US CDC and FDA jointly recommended a pause to the use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine due to reports of a rare, severe type of blood clot in 6 women aged 18 to 48 following receipt of the vaccine. The blood clot, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, was accompanied by decreases in levels of platelets. These 6 reports were noted in >6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine, so the rate of this adverse reaction is extremely rare. The FDA is still investigating whether these cases are directly related to the vaccines, and have not yet released data on whether any of these individuals were pregnant, lactating or on hormones (for birth control or replacement).
Although there are no clear guidelines yet on the continued use of the J&J vaccine, our maternal-fetal medicine specialists recommend pausing administration in pregnant and lactating individuals until we receive more data. The other forms of the vaccine, namely Pfizer and Moderna, continue to be acceptable and recommended.
If you have received the J&J vaccine within the last 2 weeks and develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath, we recommend that you seek medical care immediately.
Thank you for choosing UCLA Health for your health care needs. We are committed to protecting your safety while maintaining high-quality care at our hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica and our clinics across the region.