Pregnancy, delivery and the postnatal period during the pandemic (COVID-19)
Pregnant women do not appear to be at higher risk of contracting coronavirus disease (COVID‑19) than the general public.
However, due to physiological changes during pregnancy, pregnant women are more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID‑19, particularly in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. This risk is higher if the woman has other risk factors such as:
age (35 or older);
chronic respiratory failure.
Severe COVID‑19 in pregnant women can lead to preterm delivery and a high risk of preeclampsia and loss of the foetus.
Based on current knowledge, COVID‑19 does not cause fetal malformation at birth. In studies of pregnant women infected with the virus that causes COVID‑19 around the world, cases of placental transmission are very rare.
Although the risk of complications is quite low, this information shows that it is important for pregnant women to protect themselves from COVID‑19 as from any other viral infection.
In Québec, pregnant or breastfeeding workers may be eligible for preventive re-assignment under the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program (in French only). Specific recommendations have been made in the context of COVID‑19.
Future parents are encouraged to share their concerns and report any symptoms that may be compatible with COVID‑19 to the professionals who are providing their pregnancy follow-up care. This information will ensure they receive optimal follow-up. If you have concerns, the page Stress, Anxiety and Depression will reassure and guide you.
During pregnancy, follow-up appointments in person are preferred. However they can be conducted by teleconsultation if necessary. It is very important for pregnant women to keep their appointments. Priority is given to ultrasounds between 11 and 13 weeks and between 20 and 22 weeks. Depending on the epidemiological situation, in-person prenatal group sessions may be suspended. They may, however, be offered in other ways , such as answering questions from prospective parents by telephone or online prenatal group sessions. Different sources of information are also available. Here are some examples:
Many perinatal resource centres, family centres, perinatal care organizations and community breastfeeding resources have adapted their services by telephone. Some offer online classes.
It is important that you get the information and support you need to reassure you so that your pregnancy experience is as serene as possible.
Olo programs and Integrated Perinatal and Early Childhood Services (SIPPE) are still being offered at local community services centres (CLSCs). Contact your CLSC for more information. For your CLSC’s contact information, refer to the Finding a CLSC page.
Delivery, breastfeeding and the postnatal period
Pregnant women may be accompanied by one significant person and one support person during their delivery, whether it is in a hospital or a birth centre. However, a number of special measures may apply to reduce the risk of infection depending on public health alert levels. For more information, refer to the page on Guidelines for visitors to hospital centres during COVID-19.
For more information about the conditions that apply in your situation and to allow you to plan your delivery with confidence, talk to the health professionals who are providing your pregnancy follow-up care.
To facilitate breastfeeding, the usual practices such as skin-to-skin contact and rooming between the mother and the baby are still recommended. To find out more, read the following documents:
Home postnatal follow-up care is maintained. Parents will be contacted by telephone 24 to 48 hours after they leave their birth location. Home or clinic visits will also be offered if necessary while respecting the preventive measures.
For pregnant women who have symptoms of COVID-19
While infected with COVID‑19, follow-up is adapted to ensure the woman and the baby receive safe, optimal care. Women may still be accompanied by a support person for their delivery and practice skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding and rooming in if the mother and newborn do not require additional care.
The preventive measures that apply to the general public also apply to pregnant women. Experts also recommend that unvaccinated women who are pregnant or nursing be vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine can be administered at any time during pregnancy or nursing, unless contraindicated. Recent studies suggest that antibodies cross the placenta into the mother’s milk, so vaccination may also protect the baby from infection.
If your child or another family member thinks they have been exposed to COVID‑19 or have symptoms, contact 1‑877‑644‑4545 as soon as possible and follow the instructions you are given.
To make the best possible decisions for your health and that of your loved ones during the coronavirus disease pandemic, consult the Self-Care Guides. They will tell you the best ways to protect yourself from COVID‑19, take care of yourself, provide basic care to family members and friends and where and when to consult if you need care or services.