COVID-19 Pregnancy and Delivery FAQs
COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not been previously seen in humans, which was first identified in China in 2019. Please know, we regularly treat patients with infectious diseases and have comprehensive protocols and resources to ensure we are able to do so with the highest regard to health and safety. The information compiled below is regularly updated based on new guidelines and safety measures. Read our general FAQs about COVID-19 or learn more about our new temporary visitor policy.
Pregnancy Health and Safety
Q: Am I at a higher risk from COVID-19 because of my pregnancy?
A: Although pregnant women are generally considered a higher risk population, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) state that based on current information, pregnant women appear to have the same risk of COVID-19 as adults who are not pregnant.
Pregnant women might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, there may be an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, among pregnant women with COVID-19.
Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to be hospitalized and are at increased risk for intensive care unit (ICU) admission and receipt of mechanical ventilation than nonpregnant women.
Q: Is it safe to attend my OB appointments?
A: For your health and the health of your baby, it is important to continue to attend your OB appointments. OB providers have safety precautions in place. Should an in-person appointment be necessary, please reach out to your OB provider with your specific concerns and questions related to your office visit.
Q: Does El Camino Health test pregnant women for COVID-19 prior to delivery?
A: Pregnant women will be tested prior to delivery for COVID-19 to ensure the best care for our patients and their newborns. The tests are either scheduled before the expected delivery or upon arrival to the hospital, depending on the situation. Your OB provider will provide up to date information and guidance for testing.
Planning Your Delivery
Q: Is it safe to deliver a baby at an El Camino Health hospital?
A: Our Mother-Baby units continue to be fully operational and maintain dedicated maternal health professionals and beds for new moms and their babies, including operating rooms and neonatal intensive care units. Orchard Pavilion is a separate building with its own entrance away from the main Mountain View hospital and is utilized for caring for moms and babies, even in the event of a surge. Our Los Gatos hospital has a secure wing dedicated to mom and babies. Our Mother-Baby units have isolation capabilities if necessary, and personnel are trained to treat mothers with infectious diseases.
You can register online to deliver your baby at an El Camino Health hospital.
Q: Can a mother with COVID-19 give birth at El Camino Health hospitals safely?
A: Yes. Our Mother-Baby units have isolation capabilities and care teams trained to treat mothers with infectious diseases. Additional information is included in the section below.
Q: How do you get to the Mother-Baby unit?
A: In Los Gatos, use the main hospital entrance during the day or enter through the emergency room entrance during the evening/night and you will be directed to the secure Mother-Baby area. The emergency room evaluates patients who are experiencing respiratory or infectious disease symptoms in a separate and dedicated assessment area to protect others in the emergency room.
In Orchard Pavilion, the Mother-Baby unit is located on the first floor of the Women’s Hospital, which is separate from the main hospital. This entrance is open 24/7.
Q: Who can accompany a mom during labor and delivery?
A: For the safety of our patients and staff, we are limiting visitors to one visitor/support person and one trained professional doula. Below are guidelines for the support person:
- The person needs to be a healthy adult. They will be screened upon entry to the hospital and will be required to wear a mask in the hospital.
- The person should not leave the patient room unless necessary. They will have access to food. If the person leaves the hospital they will have to repeat temperature and symptom screening when they return.
- Additional support, such as additional loved ones, can be connected virtually.
Below are guidelines for a trained professional doula attending an active labor and delivery:
- The doula needs to bring documentation of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 14 days when arriving at the hospital.
- The doula needs to bring printed proof of business documentation when arriving at the hospital.
- The doula will be screened upon entry to the hospital and will be required to wear a mask in the hospital. They will be rescreened every eight hours.
- The doula should remain in the patient room as much as possible and minimize leaving and returning to the room.
- The doula can only accompany a mom during active labor and delivery, not after the birth.
Q: How will safety precautions impact a birth plan?
A: Our specially trained, compassionate nurses work closely with the doctor or certified nurse-midwife to honor a birth plan. All members of your care team will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during delivery. Pain medications and epidurals are available, but nitrous oxide is currently not.
A designated visitor/support person and a doula may accompany the mom through the delivery. The support person and doula will be screened upon entry, cannot trade off with others, and will not be able to leave and come back. They will be well cared for and have access to food.
Walking the hallway during labor is allowed. However, walking is limited to one patient and their support person or doula at a time and both will need to wear a mask while in the hallway.
Q: Are lactation services available?
A: Our experienced nurses and lactation consultants continue to be available to support breastfeeding needs.
Information for Pregnant Women Who are COVID-19 Positive
Q: What area of the hospital should a pregnant woman who has tested positive for COVID-19 go to deliver a baby?
A: A pregnant woman who has COVID-19 will need to call the Mother-Baby unit upon arrival to the hospital. Please wear a mask. Our care team will come out and meet you. They will wear masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection when providing care throughout the entire hospital stay.
Q: Who can accompany a mom with COVID-19 during labor and delivery?
A: For the safety of our patients and staff, we are limiting visitors to one visitor/support person. Below are guidelines for the support person:
- The person must be a non-exposed, healthy adult; or if exposed, have documentation of a negative COVID test within the last three days.
- The person needs to understand and agree to the risks of being in the room during labor with a new mom with COVID-19 positive.
- The person will be screened and required to wear a mask.
- Santa Clara County requires that anyone exposed to someone testing positive for COVID-19 needs to self-quarantine for two weeks (14 days), unless has a subsequent negative test.
- Doulas are not allowed to attend the labor and delivery of a mom with COVID-19. They can be connected virtually.
Q: Will a mom with COVID-19 need to wear a mask?
A: Upon arrival to the hospital, all patients will be provided with and asked to wear a mask when your care team or visitors/support person are in your room. Moms may be excluded from wearing their mask while in labor, sleeping or alone in their room. Please ask your nurse if you have questions.
Q: Will a new mom with COVID-19 and her baby be able to stay in the same room?
A: Your care team will help determine a plan to best support mother and baby.
While it is difficult for a new mom to be separated from her baby, the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend separating moms who have COVID-19 positive from their babies to prevent spread of the virus. This is similar to the recommendations for other respiratory infections, such as influenza.
If you have COVID-19 and are symptom-free and declines separation from your baby, then we will make accommodations to allow for six feet of distance and a barrier to decrease the risk of transmission to the baby.
Q: Can a mom with COVID-19 breastfeed her baby?
A: Our experienced nurses and lactation consultants have advanced training to support breastfeeding needs. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend pumping or hand expression to decrease the risk of transmission to baby if a mom has COVID-19. If a mom declines pumping, our lactation specialists will assist with precautions to take to avoid spreading the virus to her baby, including handwashing and masking.
If a mom is positive for COVID-19, will her newborn be tested for COVID-19?
A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies born to mothers with COVID-19 be tested 24 hours after birth, followed by another test at 48 hours after birth (if you are still admitted in the hospital). Your pediatrician will guide your baby’s care.
Maternal Mental Health Support and Resources
Q: What can be done to support mental wellness during pregnancy?
A: The typical advice to new (or soon-to-be) moms is to eat well, get plenty of rest and use your support system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are additional suggestions recommended by Dr. Nirmaljit Dhami, medical director of El Camino Health’s Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) Program.
Q: What should a pregnant woman or new mom do if she is experiencing anxiety, ‘baby blues’ or postpartum depression?
A: Please reach out for support. These are unprecedented times that are impacting each of us in unique ways. Support has never been more important, and it is readily available. If you live here, in the Bay Area, local options include:
- El Camino Health Maternal Outreach Mood Services (MOMS) Program (operating at an offsite location)
- Postpartum Support International
- Supporting Mamas
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)