COVID-19 may harm placentas, says small study

But there's no reason to panic, mama.

placenta coronavirus
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused worry for people across the world, particularly among people in vulnerable populations, such as the immunocompromised and elderly. Pregnant women have understandably been among the most concerned, worrying about potential ramifications for themselves and their babies.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology sought to examine the potential impact of COVID-19 on placentas. They examined 16 placentas delivered by women with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

It is really important to remember that a sample size of 16 is very small. Unfortunately, because COVID-19 is still so new, most of the studies being done have very small sample sizes. This means that the results can add to our knowledge base but do not define it.


In this study, compared to the placentas of women without COVID-19, the placentas studied were more likely to exhibit at least one complication. These included:

  • Maternal vascular malperfusion, a condition in which blood does not flow through the placenta properly
  • Abnormal or injured blood vessels within the placenta
  • Intervillous thrombi, or blood clots within the placenta

Rates of inflammation were not noticed to be different among the placentas.

These types of placental complications can negatively impact the way that the blood flows between the mother and fetus.

Despite these findings, only one of the women developed high blood pressure, which is a potential complication of the aforementioned placental abnormalities.

Dr. Sarah Bjorkman, Motherly's Medical Advisor explained that "of the 16 patients whose placentas were examined, all but two delivered full-term babies with excellent newborn exams and safe discharge from the hospital within four days. One of these mothers had a preterm delivery at 34 weeks, in which the baby also had an excellent newborn exam and is doing well in the NICU. None of the infants tested positive for COVID-19. (The 16th patient had a miscarriage at 16 weeks and it is unclear if this was related to COVID-19.)"

"So, while this new finding is certainly fascinating and perhaps a bit worrisome," she continued, "it is also reassuring that all of the babies born had healthy outcomes."

Because the sample size of this study is incredibly small, we need to take the results with a grain of salt and commit to more investigation before we can state definitively that the virus hurts the placenta.

Coauthor of the study, Dr. Emily Miller, stated, "We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now." She wonders if these findings mean that providers might consider closer monitoring during pregnancy, via ultrasounds.

Not all providers agree. Dr. Denise Jamieson contributed to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) advisory statement for how to care for pregnant women during the pandemic. Dr. Jamieson told CNN that "there are all sorts of risks in doing additional screening and testing, which can result in unanticipated outcomes." In other words, increased monitoring during pregnancy could do more harm than good. Screening and tests can give false results that prompt interventions that are later deemed to be unwarranted and maybe even harmful.

She continues, "This study raises more questions than it answers. Looking at the placenta will help us understand what's going on in pregnancy, but I think we need to be careful about jumping to what that means clinically in terms of care of pregnant women with Covid-19."

Although it is possible for newborns to be infected with COVID-19, outcomes have been positive—babies tend to do very well.

The Centers for Disease Control has stated that while it does not appear that COVID-19 impacts pregnant women differently than others, pregnant women are more at risk of getting sick with respiratory infections in general. Dr. Bjorkman agrees, saying, "thankfully, the growing data that we have right now does not suggest that pregnant women are more at risk for disease or worse outcomes from COVID-19."

So what does this mean for you?

First and foremost, do not panic. Easier said than done, I know.

Remember that your provider should still be your primary source of information and guidance on the best plan of care for your particular situation because there are so many variables; your geographic region, specific health concerns, the presence of non-COVID-19 pregnancy complications, your risk of exposure and more.

That said, these findings do indicate that we need to continue to take the virus seriously, especially as the country moves towards re-opening.

It is (beyond) tempting to want to get back to our pre-pandemic lives, but we still need to maintain caution. This includes the following recommendations:

  • Stay home when possible
  • Avoid large groups, crowded places, and people with symptoms or confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • Wear a mask when out and about
  • Wash your hands frequently, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand washing is not an option
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Disinfect frequently-touched areas in your home
  • Report any concerning symptoms to your provider. As a reminder, the symptoms of COVID-19 can be:
    • Fever and chills
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Cough
    • Loss of taste or smell
    • Tiredness
    • Headaches
    • Sore throats
    • Nasal congestion
    • Diarrhea or vomiting

Mama, this is unbelievably stressful. Please know that while this all feels overwhelming and scary, it is still incredibly possible to have a healthy, beautiful pregnancy and birth during the pandemic.

You are so brave, and you can do this.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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