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COVID-19 FAQs and Message for Expectant Parents

March 7, 2020

The physicians and team members at Atlantic Health System Maternity Centers are committed to helping expectant parents safely and comfortably welcome their newborns as we face the challenges of COVID-19 in our communities.

Updated July 8, 2020 at 5:32am

Dear Parents-to-be,

It’s important to stay informed and be smart while we work to address the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. There are immediate actions you can take, like limiting travel and exposure to the public and, of  course, washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds and not touching your face.  It’s a great time to teach these habits to everyone in your household.  More guidance on hand washing>

Below are some common questions and a link to the CDC website about pregnancy and COVID-19.  I urge you to read them and direct questions to your obstetrician.

Most importantly, our hospitals are here for you when it is time to deliver your baby and if any pre-term complications arise. As in any situation, your first step is to call your obstetrician for guidance on non-emergency situations, including if you are feeling ill.  In the case of an emergency, always call 9-1-1.

Diana Contreras, MD
Medical Director, Women’s Health, Atlantic Health System
Chair of Obstetrics, Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Are pregnant women more likely to get COVID-19? Are they at higher risk of becoming severely ill from it compared to the general public?

Pregnant women have changes to their immune system and physiology that might make them more likely to get respiratory infections. Other viruses have shown to be problematic for pregnant women, such as flu, so caution is recommended in terms of limiting exposure opportunities. At this time, we don’t have enough information to determine if pregnant women are more likely to contract COVID-19 because there is not enough published data. 

Pregnant women should work to prevent exposure by washing their hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds with soap or 60% alcohol hand sanitizer, avoiding sick people and avoiding unnecessary contact like kissing, hugging and handshakes.

Are pregnant women with COVID-19 more likely to have a miscarriage? 

Miscarriage and stillbirth have been observed in other coronavirus infections, and we know that high fever in the third trimester can increase the risk of birth defects.  Contact your physician immediately if you have a fever or contract a cough. 

Can I pass the COVID-19 virus to my baby during childbirth? Or to my newborn?

Currently, COVID-19 is thought to spread by close contact with an infected person through droplets from a sneeze or a cough. We do not know if it can be transmitted during childbirth. In the very few documented cases of childbirth by an infected mother, none of the infants have tested positive and the virus was not detected in breastmilk or amniotic fluid.  Please note that this information is limited and may change as more is known about this infection.

Is my unborn baby more likely to be born early if I contract COVID-19 or have other problems?

We do not have enough information to connect COVID-19 to premature birth at this time.  Fever during pregnancy is always something that you should contact your obstetrician about immediately. 

Can my baby have developmental problems if I contract COVID-19? Or if my infant contracts it?

We will be studying the impacts of this virus ongoing in the science and medical communities and will be sharing findings with the public. We do not have enough information about this virus to answer that question today.

Can COVID-19 be passed to my baby through my breastmilk? Can I breastfeed my baby?

Currently, COVID-19 is thought to spread by close contact with an infected person through droplets from a sneeze or a cough.  There is very limited data currently available, but to date, there is no evidence of COVID-19 in breast milk.  Mothers who are breastfeeding should continue to do so. We are monitoring this information.

For the latest information about pregnancy and COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

Get more information about COVID-19, including symptoms and preventative measures. 

Safety & Comfort Measures During Your Hospital Stay

Q. What actions are being taken to keep COVID-19 out of the maternity centers?

A. Atlantic Health System hospitals, and hospitals across NJ, have moved to restrict visitation at our facilities, which is a proven way to reduce potential for transmission of contagious diseases. 

Visitation is even more restricted in our maternity centers. The laboring mother must designate one support partner for her time at the hospital. This person must be older than 18 and will be the only person allowed in their Labor & Delivery room, their Mother/Baby room and the Newborn Nursery. One support person may be designated for NICU visitation. A certified doula may also be present for childbirth. All visitors and doulas will be screened before entering the hospital.  This action not only helps protect moms and their newborns, but also protects our essential health care team members.

Additionally, we have implemented strict screening at entrances to all maternity units. Visitors and doulas will be asked screening questions before entering each time. Rigorous screening of the maternity center care team members is also in place and occurs every time they report in to work.

We also ask all visitors to follow recommended hand washing processes or to use hand sanitizer while they are in the hospital. Hand cleaning supplies are available, as always.

Q. How are you keeping patients with COVID or the flu separate from healthy moms in maternity center?

A. We are very experienced in the proper procedures and have state-of-the-art technologies in specialized rooms to isolate patients who are determined to be contagious. We are taking every measure to ensure the safety of our moms and newborns.

Q. With the new visitor restrictions, can I still have my doula come to the hospital for my childbirth?

A. As of June 29, 2020, certified doulas may attend childbirth with the laboring mother and her support person. All doulas must pass a health screening before entering the hospital. 

Q. Will there be baby photography provided for my newborn?

A. Not at this time. To reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 and flu viruses, we are restricting access to the maternity centers. Currently, this includes our newborn photography partner, Bella Baby. They will be back on the floors as soon as the restrictions are lifted. Thank you for your patience. Please contact them to schedule photography outside of the hospital. 

Q. What happened to the snack refrigerators and nourishment stations?

A. We are no longer serving unpackaged foods in a community area. Packaged snacks will be provided upon request. Please don’t be shy to ask for them!

Q. Are you doing anything different to clean the rooms in the maternity center?

A. All hospitals undergo extensive and thorough cleaning that is far beyond regular household cleaning. We have specialized disinfectants and antimicrobial agents for the hospital setting, as well as cleaning robots and other technologies. Out of abundance of caution we are performing more frequent cleaning of all surfaces in the maternity centers.

Q. Why did you cancel maternity tours? And parent education classes?

A. We are being extra cautious to reduce the possibility of transmission of COVID and flu to the moms and babies in the maternity centers. An important way to do that is to limit the number of people visiting the centers. Therefore, we have canceled all maternity tours and are exploring online alternatives to learn about the Atlantic Health Maternity Experience. Please contact the center you are interested in to learn more.

Many of our pre-childbirth parent education classes and post-childbirth support groups and classes were held at the hospital. With the goal of reducing transmission of viruses in group settings and restricted visitation at the centers, we have canceled classes.

Our maternity team is working quickly to move the courses online and will provide information to our families as soon as possible. Any fee associated with a canceled class will be refunded in full.

Q. How will I get breastfeeding support after I go home with my baby if the classes are canceled?

A. Our maternity team is working quickly to provide support remotely during this time. We are highly confident that these compassionate and skilled professionals will provide wonderful support to breastfeeding moms. Please contact the maternity center you delivered at for information on support at this time.

Learn more about our maternity care.