Pregnant and breastfeeding women — coronavirus (COVID-19)
As COVID-19 is a new virus, we are still learning how it may affect you and your baby. Read below to find out what you can do to limit your exposure and reduce the risk for you and your family. Check this page for updated information. Call your midwife, doctor or 134 COVID (134 268) should you have any questions.
What could happen if I get COVID-19 while pregnant?
Pregnant women with COVID-19 have a higher risk of certain complications compared to non-pregnant women with COVID-19 of the same age, including:
- An increased risk (about 3 times higher) of needing admission to an intensive care unit.
- An increased risk (about 3 times higher) of needing invasive ventilation (breathing life support).
COVID-19 also increases the risk of certain pregnancy complications including:
- A slightly increased risk (about 1.3 times higher) of having their baby born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- An increased risk (about 3 times higher) of their baby needing admission to a newborn care unit.
Pregnant women with certain underlying medical conditions are more likely to have severe illness from COVID-19 compared to pregnant women without these conditions. The conditions are:
- Being older than 35 years
- Overweight or obese (body mass index above 30 kg/m2)
- Pre-existing (pre-pregnancy) high blood pressure
- Pre-existing (pre-pregnancy) diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
There is no data showing COVID-19 can cause miscarriage.
Illnesses like COVID-19 can cause a high fever (temperature). If you have a high fever during your pregnancy, call your doctor or midwife immediately.
For more information read the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy or COVID-19 and Pregnancy fact sheet.
Can I pass on COVID-19 to my baby while I am pregnant?
It is thought to be uncommon for pregnant women to pass the virus on to their baby. Current data has not confirmed vertical transmission (mother to baby in-utero transmission).
We will continue to consider new information and research around COVID-19 and pregnancy.
What can I do to protect myself?
Pregnant women should follow the same advice as the general public. To reduce your risk, it is important to follow these prevention measures.
COVID-19 testing criteria are the same for pregnant women as the general community.
COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy and breastfeeding
RANZCOG and ATAGI have recommended that pregnant women receive the Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy
No safety concerns have been identified for women who received a Pfizer vaccine during pregnancy. Complications such as premature delivery, stillbirth, small for gestational age infants and congenital anomalies occurred at a similar rate to what is seen in the general population.
If you are breastfeeding you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at any time. You do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination.
Read more about COVID-19 vaccines.
Flu vaccines during pregnancy
All pregnant women should get a flu shot to help protect from Influenza. Getting the flu can cause serious complications for both you and your baby. If you start to develop cold or flu-like symptoms, call your doctor or midwife.
The flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it can help protect the health and wellbeing of you and your baby.
It’s important that you attend all your antenatal appointments leading up to the birth of your baby. Contact your healthcare provider to see how your appointments are offered; either by face-to-face or Telehealth (phone or video call).
Read our online antenatal information (at your own pace) to find out more on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postnatal care for mother and baby.
Is it safe to give birth at the hospital or birth centre?
If you have been planning to have your baby at hospital or a birth centre, it is still a safe place to be. Queensland Health facilities provide high-quality maternity and newborn services. Extra precautions are being taken to make sure you and your baby, as well as staff, stay safe.
Will the COVID-19 outbreak affect my time in hospital after birth?
The level of care you receive after having your baby will be the same as it would have been at any other time. Staff can help you with feeding, bathing, changing nappies and other newborn needs.
Wherever possible, we recommend co-location of the mother and baby (staying together). Your doctor, midwife or child health nurse will provide you with information and ongoing care once you are at home.
When there is a known outbreak of COVID-19 in the community, visitors to hospitals and health facilities may be restricted. You can have a support person with you at all times even when visitor restrictions are in place.
How can I prevent my baby getting COVID-19?
If you have COVID-19 it is important to try to prevent your baby getting the virus (even if you don’t have symptoms). It is very important that you:
- wash your hands before and after touching your baby – use soap and water for 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitiser/gel (if you can’t wash hands)
- clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched
- wear a mask while in close contact with your child (including feeding)
- if you are sick, have a healthy adult assist to care for your baby – if possible
For more information, see our COVID-19 and breastfeeding fact sheet.
Should I breastfeed my baby?
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 carries through breastmilk. It is an ideal first food for your newborn and can help protect your baby from germs.
Even when you are well, you should:
- wash your hands before touching or feeding your baby, and
- use a tissue or your elbow to cover your sneezes and coughs.
Read the precautions found in our breastfeeding fact sheet.
If you need support with breastfeeding, call the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline on 1800 686 268.
What precautions should I take if I am bottle feeding my baby?
If you are feeding your baby expressed breastmilk or formula, hygiene guidelines apply:
- wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before touching the pump, bottle parts or feeding your baby
- clean and sterilize the bottle, pump and all included parts after each use, and
- use a tissue or your elbow to cover your sneezes and coughs.
I am feeling worried, who can I talk to?
The event of COVID-19 may affect the mental wellbeing of women and their families. This could be through changing the way we live and placing added stress on relationships.
During pregnancy, most women experience a range of emotions. It’s normal to feel some worry during pregnancy and when having a baby. If you feel worrying thoughts are becoming a regular part of life, it can help to talk about any concerns with your doctor, partner or a close friend.
Depression and anxiety can occur at any time in life. Especially during major events like pregnancy, having a baby, or with added stressors like COVID-19. Seeking support early can make a big difference to your mental health and wellbeing.
Read more on perinatal anxiety or contact a health professional at:
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline: 1800 882 436
- Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA): 1300 726 306
- MUMspace – support for the emotional health of new mums, at every step.
If you have a question about coronavirus (COVID-19), call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.