The COVID19 pandemic is posing considerable challenges for countries to maintain the provision of high quality, essential maternal and newborn health services.  Countries grappling with the pandemic may need to divert significant resources, including midwives, from regular service delivery to response efforts.  And, pregnant women and mothers with newborns may experience difficulties accessing services due to transport disruptions and lockdown measures or be reluctant to come to health facilities due to fear of infection.

The safest place for a woman to deliver her baby is at a functional health facility with a skilled birth attendant. However, during this global crisis many women may end up delivering at home without appropriate support.   Countries and their partners must work together to ensure antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care services are kept available 24 hours a day 7 days a week throughout every stage of the pandemic.

All pregnant women—including those with suspected or confirmed COVID19—should continue to attend antenatal care visits and deliver with a skilled health provider to optimize healthy outcomes for both themselves and their newborns.  And, given the vulnerability of newborns during the first days of life, postnatal care services for mothers and their babies must continue to be prioritized.   The full extent of COVID19’s impact on economies, societies and health is still unknown and unfolding every day.  Yet, if life-saving interventions are disrupted, many more mothers and newborns could die from treatable and preventable conditions. Investments in health systems must be made to enable countries to both adequately respond to the pandemic and ensure the continuity of critical maternal and newborn health services and supplies.

What UNICEF is doing

We are still learning how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting maternal and newborn health.

UNICEF, along with key partners, is analyzing evidence on the direct effects of COVID19 on maternal and newborn health including on maternal to child transmission.  We are also working with our partners to develop toolkits for countries to use to monitor health service disruptions and to adjust programs accordingly, and we are assessing how the socio-economic impacts of containment measures are affecting overall maternal and newborn health and well-being.

Resources

The situation of children and vulnerabilities to COVID-19 response dashboard contains the latest data from UNICEF’s global databases that are relevant to the COVID-19 response for mothers and children. Explore country-level data by gender, residence and wealth quintile.

To learn more about how women can protect themselves and their little ones, see suggestions from Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) What you need to know about the virus to protect you and your family

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know How to protect yourself and your children.