Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Individuals and Newborns

UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter are taking every precaution to keep our patients and healthcare providers safe. For additional information, please visit getting your care safely and Safe care. Your way.

Information on COVID-19 is constantly being updated so please do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for the latest update

Pregnant Individuals

Information on COVID-19 is constantly being updated. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can transmit from an infected mother to a newborn. We do know that pregnant women are more susceptible to viral infections so if you think you are infected or have been exposed to COVID-19, call your OB provider.

It is important that you continue with your prenatal care appointments and continue to receive your recommended vaccines including flu and Tdap which will help protect both you and your newborn. If you are concerned about attending your appointment due to COVID-19, talk to your healthcare provider or visit getting your care safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently recommending that all travelers avoid nonessential travel to all global destinations. For additional information including countries with Level 3 Travel notices, please see the CDC guidelines.

To reduce your risk of exposure, follow the guidelines on how to protect yourself in our frequently asked questions.

During Your Hospital Stay

UW Health and UnityPoint Health-Meriter are taking every precaution to keep patients and healthcare providers safe and have updated our visitor guidelines. One support person will be allowed during the birth as well as your healthcare team including doulas, community midwives and interpreters.

While the ideal setting of care for a healthy newborn is within the mother’s room, if a mother has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the healthcare team will discuss with the family ways to reduce the risk of transmission to the newborn.

We know that you are looking forward to introducing your newborn to others, however family members or friends that visit increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19. If possible, postpone gatherings until a future date. As always, practice physical distancing and practice personal hygiene for prevention.  

Newborn

Much is still unknown about the risks of COVID-19 to newborns. What we do know is that newborns can be infected with the virus after being in close contact with an infected person and some have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. What is unknown is if these newborns got the virus before, during or after birth.

If you are concerned about possible symptoms in your newborn or would like more information on what to look for, talk to your healthcare provider or visit neonates and COVID-19 from the CDC.

Routine well care child visits and vaccine visits are still important and should not be postponed due to COVID-19. If you have concerns about attending the appointments, see getting your care safely or talk to your healthcare provider.

Breastfeeding

There is currently no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through the breastmilk of an infected mother to a newborn. Breastfeeding is encouraged as the best source of nutrition and is an important part of antibody protection. If you have questions about starting or continuing breastfeeding, please contact your healthcare provider for guidance for potentiation risks or alternatives.  

Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should take all precautions to avoid spreading the virus including:

  • Wash hands using soap and water before touching your baby
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Wear a cloth face covering
  • Wash hands using soap and water before touching any pump or bottle parts
  • Properly clean and sanitize breast pumps often
  • Have a healthy caregiver feed expressed breast milk to the baby

Breastmilk and Formula Feedings for Pediatric Patients at American Family Children’s Hospital

For newborns requiring an inpatient stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or other units of American Family Children’s Hospital, additional precautions will be taken when providing feedings. When frozen/fresh milk, donor milk or formula is brought from home, we will:

  • Request that only 24 hours’ worth of feeding is provided
  • Ask that milk be brought by the primary support person directly to the patient room and be given to the nurse
  • The nurse will thaw when needed and store
  • In the NICU, milk will be stored in the in-room refrigerator
  • In American Family Children’s Hospital units, the milk will be stored in breastmilk cooler bags using frozen gel ice packs
  • If your milk requires fortification, your nurse will assist you
  • A dedicated milk warmer will be provided in the patient room

Please note:

  • COVID-19 positive mothers will not be able to visit the hospital and milk should be brought in by a healthy primary support person.
  • While the infant is receiving breastmilk from the mother, they will be placed in special pathogens isolation where they will stay until the mother is symptom free for 10 days.  
  • If parents are symptomatic, but not COVID positive, the above procedures will be followed as well.

More information For more information on pregnant women, newborns and breastfeeding, visit the CDC Frequently Asked Questions