COVID-19 and Pregnancy

On April 22, 2020, UW Medicine, together with the Whole U at the University of Washington, jointly hosted a webinar to address pregnancy, labor and delivery in this time of the novel coronavirus. The presentation included insights from four OB-GYN faculty members: moderator Deborah Blue, CNM, MSN; Suchi Chandrasekaran, MD; Alisa Kachikis, MD; and Anna Shope, MD. You may view the recording on YouTube.

In addition to the topics covered in the webinar, we have compiled resources and a Q&A addressing chatroom questions for the COVID-19 situation in late April 2020. If you have an individual health concern and would like to talk with one of our UW Medicine providers, book an appointment here.

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, and we expect to adjust and adapt our system’s response according to new circumstances. If you have coronavirus-related questions, please call our information line at 206.529.2885 or see UW Medicine’s COVID-19 information page.

Frequently asked questions about care and services

Delivering your baby at a UW Medicine hospital is very safe. Since the novel coronavirus was first detected in the U.S., we have been very fortunate that through April 25, 2020, UW Medicine hospitals have seen, in total, only a handful of COVID-positive pregnant patients.

The clinics and hospitals in the UW Medicine system are among the safest in the nation. We offer a rapid screening test that takes only 90 minutes; universal masking and daily symptom attestation requirement for employees; and a visitor policy that protects everyone, particularly pregnant patients and babies. We are taking every precaution to offer the safest healthcare to our expecting families.

If you are not a current patient but would like to transfer your care to UW Medicine, call 206.520.5000. New and existing appointments may be by phone or video (telehealth).

You can get information about our TeleOB Program and our general telehealth programs on the UW Medicine website. If you are a UW Medicine patient, please let your provider know you are interested.

Virtual birth center tours are available online. Room views of our Labor and Delivery suites are also available:

All birthing suites in Labor and Delivery are private and have their own bathroom with whirl-pool tubs. Most rooms have a small refrigerator and a TV. All rooms have wireless internet access and a couch with linens for your support person. Birthing accessories include a birthing ball, peanut ball, mirror and squatting bar. Although we have everything you will need during your stay, we encourage you to bring other personal items with you to support the experience you would like to have. For example, if you would like to have music playing during your labor, please bring something to support that (most patients find their phones and/or a small speaker sufficient).

Please note that at this time we are not allowing people to go in and out of the hospital, so make sure to bring everything when checking in. You will need to bring photo IDs for both you and your support person as well as a car seat for your baby and clothing for everyone to go home in.

For more detailed answers, please speak with your provider. Ideas of what to bring are available in the patient education booklet “Pregnancy and Giving Birth” (which you should have received at the start of your prenatal care).

The rapid screening test developed by UW Department of Laboratory Medicine is one of the most accurate in the country, with a false negative rate of less than 2%. You should feel very reassured if you test negative. There have not been any false positives.

Tell your care team any symptoms you have experienced in the past six weeks. We are testing any pregnant patient within 72 hours of admittance for labor and delivery. UW Medicine is working on an antibody test and hope to make it available as soon as possible.

Assuming that you have no suspicious symptoms, you are permitted one support person until your swab test results come back. If your COVID-19 test is negative, you can continue to have a support person with you.

We have had only a handful of COVID-positive cases in total across all our hospital campuses’ pregnant patients. They were tested when they presented with symptoms; the circumstances of their individual cases are confidential.

UW Medicine is now testing all patients on admission to the hospital, including all patients admitted to the labor and delivery floor. We continue to encourage all individuals, including pregnant patients, to practice physical distancing and rigorous hand hygiene.

If a pregnant patient tests COVID-positive, we will help arrange for testing of their partner. As we learn more about the novel coronavirus, we expect recommendations to evolve, and we will adjust to new information. Currently, we recommend minimizing COVID-19 exposure of the newborn to a COVID-positive parent. As far as co-location, in the event that a pregnant patient tests COVID-positive, this would lead to a conversation between the pediatric team and OB providers, and involve joint decision-making with the family.

During a glucose screening test, the pregnant patient would need to remove their mask to drink from the cup. This should only take up to five minutes. A clinical staff member, wearing their mask, would walk in just to give the patient that cup before departing the room.

If the grandparent or caregiver is traveling from another area, consider the rate of viral infection in that area and make decisions taking geographical considerations into account. When considering an extended family situation for child care, continue to take every precaution, such as hand washing or using an alcohol-based sanitizer, not touching your face, practicing social distancing from others outside the home and using frequent disinfectants around the home.

Prenatal vitamins themselves do not protect against a complication like COVID-19, but they are part of a standard recommendation for prenatal care. COVID-19 contraction can lead to a lot of laboratory abnormalities. It can mimic the complications for preeclampsia. In more advanced stages of COVID-19, it is not unusual to see abnormalities in the lab, but it’s a systemic response, not an attack on hemoglobin.

Probably not in the situation of labor and delivery, unless antibody tests become universally applied at UW Medicine. Antibody tests are more likely to be used in situations like workforce re-entry. However, like a lot of situations throughout the pandemic, this is a moving target.

The answer would depend on the situation and the kind of vaccine that becomes available. Many vaccines are safe in pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that some type of mask, whether cloth, paper, etc., be worn over the face when outside of the home. The type of mask is a personal choice and we do not have any specific mask recommendation. If the pregnant woman is well oxygenated, the baby will be fine.

Currently, UW Medicine has a universal masking policy. Everyone entering the hospital must wear a mask (of their choice), therefore asymptomatic patients awaiting COVID-19 test results will need to wear a mask in labor. All staff at UW Medicine will be masked when in clinical areas to help protect you and themselves from asymptomatic spread.

Yes, there have been reports of caregivers transmitting to infants after birth. In general, infants and children have not had as severe symptoms compared to adults but there have been some rare cases of serious illness in infants.

For the vaccine, we are awaiting data to determine if infants or young children will be eligible to receive it.