Skip to main content
Blog | PelviCare

The Effect of Covid-19 on Pregnancy

In a recent study in Reproductive Health, a group of researchers examined the ways that pregnant women and new mothers are affected by Covid-19. They found that both the disease and the pandemic in general has specific effects on pregnant women and new mothers. 


It has become clear that women, and especially pregnant or recently postpartum women, are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in both direct and indirect ways, including physically, emotionally, mentally and economically.


In this article we'll look at how the Covid-19 pandemic affects your pregnancy and experience of new motherhood, and we'll consider some steps you can take to lessen its impact.

How pregnant and postpartum women are affected by Covid-19

How the Covid-19 Pandemic Affects Pregnancy

The pandemic has had deep and far-reaching consequences for every part of our lives. Whether or not we were actually infected by the virus, our work, our homes, our relationships and our social lives have all been affected. Women experience greater impact than men, and pregnant woman are even more likely to experience problems.

Impact of the Pandemic on Women

In an examination of how men and women are differently affected, the McKinsey Institute calculated that women were almost twice as likely as men to lose their jobs due to the pandemic. This was attributed partly to the increasing burden of care responsibilities, which is generally carried mostly by women. 

All categories of work have been affected, but you might expect that health care workers would have seen improvements in employment throughout the pandemic. But that wasn't the case for women. As an example to illustrate the effect on women's work life even more specifically, KFF reported that women working in health jobs outside of hospitals actually faced increased unemployment between May 2020 and November 2021. During the same period, men in similar jobs saw a decrease in unemployment.


The data is pretty stark for women's work life during the pandemic. But in addition to the impact on their employment, the pandemic had a major impact on women's health and wellbeing.


The period of 2020 and 2021 saw a world-wide increase in domestic violence and a rise in mental health problems such as depression and anxiety that have an impact on both women and men alike.

Impact of Covid-19 on Pregnant Women

How Covid-19 impacts pregnancy and birth

In terms of what is known about Covid-19, it's still early days for research and certain truths. However, there have been studies ongoing since the beginning of the pandemic, so some results have come to light over the past two years. 

According to the Reproductive Health study, women may be at increased risk of infection from respiratory viruses in general, including Covid-19. This is due to the physical changes, including to the immune system, that the body goes through in order to protect a developing fetus. 

That might sound frightening to any pregnant woman or to people who are planning their family. The NHS reports that pregnant women are more likely to be seriously ill from Covid-19. But, in a contradictory study, it was reported that you're not likely to have more severe symptoms than people who are not pregnant. It's reassuring to know that studies most cases of Covid-19 recorded during pregnancy during 2020 were mild, with women having very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. 

How Covid-19 Affects Birth and the Postnatal Period

A group of researchers from three different university hospitals in Spain made a study of women between 24 and 39 years old who caught Covid-19 during their pregnancy. They found that there were some cases in which placentas were affected by the virus. Of those women whose placentas were compromised by Covid-19, a very small percentage of them lost their baby. 


Overall, the science points to fetuses being adversely affected by the virus as a rare occurrence.

How pregnant women and newborn babies are affected by Covid-19 pandemic

Effect of Coronavirus on Babies and New Mothers

Antenatal Fetus Infection. There have not yet been enough studies to determine whether or not babies are infected by Covid-19 inside the uterus, but according to the article in Reproductive Health, it's thought that mothers with the disease do not pass the infection on to their babies during pregnancy. 

Higher Rates of Caesarean Births. Current research shows that significantly more babies are delivered by C-section when the mother has tested positive for the virus. In three different studies, the rate of surgical birth was more than 90%. It's thought that this is partly due to hospitals aggressively trying to manage birth rather than being directly attributable to the illness itself. However, the benefits of support during labour are proven, and during the pandemic, women generally had less support from partners or other visitors due to fear of infection. So, it's possible that a lack of support might also have contributed to the higher rate of birth by Caesarean section. 

Decreased Maternal Satisfaction. New mothers who gave birth during the pandemic reported less satisfaction with their birthing experience. This is thought to be partly because of the differences in support they experienced when giving birth in hospital. However, it was also found that women were discharged from hospital more quickly during the pandemic. This can result in healthcare providers missing the symptoms of postpartum complications, so problems that new mothers might have had took longer to resolve or went untreated. 

Breastfeeding. It's not yet proven, but it's thought that transmitting the virus from an infected mother to her baby through breast milk is unlikely. In fact, there is some proof suggesting that the antibodies in breast milk actually protect your baby from infection with Covid-19. 

Mental Health Effects. In general, without even taking coronavirus into consideration, women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth are more likely to experience mental illness than non-pregnant people. But on top of that, the pandemic had a severe impact on mothers' mental health. The fear of catching the virus or passing it to their baby caused significant stress, anxiety and depression. Limiting access to antenatal care, impact on birthing support and social distancing measures all added up to increased psychological problems for pregnant women and new mothers. 

What happens if you have Covid-19 vaccination while pregnant

Protecting You and Your Baby from Covid-19

If you're planning your family, or you're pregnant already, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your baby from complications of Covid-19.

  • Get vaccinated to protect yourself from severe infection and to pass antibodies on to your baby.
  • Follow advice to stop the spread of disease. This is especially important during the 3rd trimester.
  • Seek advice from healthcare professionals as soon as you know you're pregnant.
  • If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, get a PCR test and speak to your midwife or maternity team for advice. 
  • Keep going to all your antenatal appointments and classes, even if these are remote rather than in person.
  • Book in for an appointment with a women's health physiotherapist to ensure your body is fully ready for birth and the antenatal period. This can help reduce the likelihood of postpartum complications whether or not you're affected by Covid-19.


For more information about women's health physiotherapy, call Magdalena on 07877 017 936 or drop PelviCare an email. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online or find a full list of the treatments available on our website.

PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond.  

Recommended Articles:

Why Should I Get a Pregnancy MOT?

Mummy MOT

5 Most Common Pregnancy Problems and Their Solutions


Kotlar, B., Gerson, E., Petrillo, S. et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and perinatal health: a scoping review. Reproductive Health 18, 10 (2021).

Madgavkar, A., White, O., Krishnan, M. et al.  COVID-19 and gender equality: countering the regressive effects. McKinsey Global Institute 15 July 2020.

Pregnancy and coronavirus (COVID-19), NHS, [Accessed 28 Feb 2022]

Wager, E., Amin, K., Cox, C., et al. What Impact Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Had on Health Care Employment? KFF 10 Dec 2021.