Developing a MRSA infection during pregnancy is rare. MRSA is treatable but can lead to complications. If you have MRSA while pregnant, the risk to your baby is highest during delivery.

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that can cause serious infections. However, many people carry MRSA bacteria without knowing it or experiencing any complications from it.

A MRSA infection in pregnancy may cause problems for both you and your baby, so it’s important to seek treatment if you develop one.

It’s also important to speak with a healthcare professional if you think you may have an infection or may have been exposed to MRSA. Lab tests of wound samples, blood, or other fluids can usually detect MRSA.

Learn more about MRSA.

Having MRSA when you’re pregnant may not affect you at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2 in 100 people carry MRSA bacteria on their bodies, but most never develop a serious infection.

If you develop an infection, it’s likely to affect only your skin. Prompt treatment can usually prevent the infection from spreading and causing further complications and symptoms.

A MRSA infection usually causes red, swollen bumps on your skin. Sometimes pus or fluid may drain from the affected areas. These symptoms are the same in people who are pregnant as in those who are not.

If the infection spreads beyond your skin and into your organs and joints, symptoms may include:

  • chest pain
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • headache
  • an overall ill feeling
  • shortness of breath, coughing, or both

If you have a MRSA infection while pregnant, the bacteria will not pass to your baby in the womb. However, it is possible for your baby to contract MRSA during delivery.

Treating your MRSA infection well before delivery may be enough to eliminate or reduce the risk to your baby. And if your baby develops a MRSA infection, treatment is possible. Serious MRSA infections in newborns are rare.

In many cases, careful draining of the affected skin is enough to treat a MRSA infection. A medical professional should perform this procedure. Don’t try to treat a MRSA skin infection on your own.

You may also need antibiotics to treat MRSA. A healthcare professional may recommend an oral antibiotic medication such as vancomycin. Intravenous doses of vancomycin may be used to treat severe MRSA infections.

The results of a small 2022 study suggest that vancomycin is safe during pregnancy at the same doses appropriate for people who are not pregnant. The decision to prescribe antibiotics is based on the severity of your infection and your medical history.

With proper treatment to prevent major complications, people who have MRSA during pregnancy can expect a healthy delivery and few complications during and after pregnancy.

If you have MRSA or think you may have it, speak with a healthcare professional about your screening and treatment options.

Should a person with MRSA be around a newborn?

Because MRSA is usually transmitted through direct contact with a wound or with objects that have MRSA bacteria on them, it’s generally safe for a newborn to be near someone who has MRSA.

Among the most important preventive steps are keeping affected areas of skin well covered and not sharing items that may carry the bacteria, such as clothes and towels.

What should you do if you think you’ve been exposed to MRSA during pregnancy?

Many people carry MRSA bacteria without developing an infection. If you think you’ve been exposed to MRSA, you can talk with a healthcare professional about next steps. If you develop a MRSA infection, you’ll need to be evaluated and treated.

Getting screened for a possible MRSA infection is simple. A nose or cheek swab may be enough, though blood tests, urine tests, or both may be advisable. If you have visible sores or bumps on your skin that indicate a MRSA infection, your doctor may choose to have a small tissue sample tested.

Is MRSA in pregnancy considered high risk?

A MRSA infection does not make a pregnancy high risk. In rare cases, if MRSA is not treated promptly and thoroughly, it may develop into a serious staph infection, with possible complications such as pneumonia and meningitis.

Can you breastfeed if you have MRSA?

According to the CDC, nursing is generally safe when you have MRSA because the bacteria cannot be transmitted through human milk. But there is a risk of infection if your baby has contact with an area of your skin that is affected by MRSA.

Is it safe to be pregnant with MRSA?

Having any type of infection while pregnant can be a concern, but with proper care, it’s usually safe to be pregnant with MRSA. The key is to work closely with your healthcare team to treat the infection as effectively as possible.

MRSA screening isn’t a standard part of pregnancy care, in part because there is little evidence to suggest that serious MRSA infections are common during pregnancy. But, like any type of infection or other health concern, a MRSA infection is possible during pregnancy.

Pay close attention to any skin changes, since MRSA can affect any part of your body, and report any concerns to a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Your baby should be well protected from MRSA during pregnancy. If you have any concerns about the risks associated with delivery, talk with your healthcare team about the steps they will take to ensure a healthy delivery for you and your baby.