Should newborns be separated from COVID-19 infected mothers?

Should newborns be separated from COVID-19 infected mothers?

Last Reviewed : 12/16/2020
Should newborns be separated from COVID-19 infected mothers?

Based on the studies so far, COVID-19 infected pregnant women do not transmit the disease to their newborns before or at the time of birth. However, infected mother to newborn transmission can occur right after birth if the newborn is in close contact with the infected mother. Novel Coronavirus infection can still spread to the newborn just like how it spreads from person to the other in the community.

It is extremely critical to take excellent care of the newborn to prevent spread of COVID-19 illness from the infected mother. If the mother is moderate to severely ill, separation appears to be the best option. Once the infected mother is removed from isolation, she can start caring for the newborn. Even if the mother is asymptomatic or has only mild symptoms, separation is probably still a better option, especially if the infected mother can come off isolation within few days. If the infected mother cannot wait for a long time, she may be allowed to bond with the baby with special precautions. Infected mother should wear N95 mask and gloves before touching the baby.

According to the guidelines published by the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG), the need to separate mothers with COVID-19 infection from their newborns, with the consequence that they are unable to breastfeed directly, may impede early bonding as well as establishment of lactation. These factors will inevitably cause additional stress for mothers in the postpartum period. As well as caring for their physical wellbeing, medical teams should consider the mental wellbeing of these mothers, showing appropriate concern and providing support when needed. These guidelines are slightly different from other published articles where separation is recommended for 14 days.

The decision to separate the infected mother should probably be made case by case depending on the severity of the disease, how long infected mother needs to be in isolation and available social support. In any case, mothers should express breastmilk regularly in order to maintain milk production. Precautions should be taken when cleaning the breast pumps.



  1. Expert consensus for managing pregnant women and neonates born to mothers with suspected or confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Chen D et al. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2020 Mar 20. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.13146
  2. ISUOG Interim Guidance on 2019 novel coronavirus infection during pregnancy and puerperium: information for healthcare professionals. Poon LC et al. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Mar 11. doi: 10.1002/uog.22013
  3. What are the risks of COVID-19 infection in pregnant women? Qiao J. Lancet. 2020 Mar 7;395(10226):760-762. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30365-2
  4. Novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) in pregnancy: What clinical recommendations to follow? Liang H et al. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2020 Apr;99(4):439-442. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13836

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