Pregnant and breastfeeding women
If you’re pregnant or have recently had a baby, you might have some questions about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could affect you and your baby. We’ve answered these and other common questions below, as well as in our Pregnancy, birth and feeding baby during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic blog.
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 regularly for updated information and call your midwife, doctor or 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) should you have any questions.
What could happen if I get COVID-19 while pregnant?
It is expected that most women who are pregnant and get COVID-19 will experience mild illness, like a cold or the flu, and will recover fully. Pregnant women who have heart or lung conditions might become more unwell.
At this time, there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 can cause miscarriage or other pregnancy complications.
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 detailed information read our COVID-19 and Pregnancy fact sheet.
Can I pass on COVID-19 to my baby while I am pregnant?
If you do get COVID-19 during your pregnancy, the good news is that at this stage, we don’t think it’s common for pregnant women to pass the virus on to their baby. Vertical transmission (mother to baby in-utero transmission) has not been confirmed in current data.
Research around COVID-19 and pregnancy continues to be closely monitored.
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.
The COVID-19 testing criteria for pregnant women are the same as for the general community.
Should I get the flu shot while I am pregnant?
All pregnant women should get a flu shot to help protect from Influenza. Getting the flu while you are pregnant 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 immediately.
The flu vaccine won’t protect you from COVID-19, but it can help protect the health and wellbeing of you and your baby.
Should I be going to my antenatal appointments?
It’s important that you attend all your antenatal appointments leading up to the birth of your baby. Call your healthcare provider to discuss how they would like to set up your appointments going forward as some appointments for pregnant women will be provided by telehealth (appointments over the phone or by video call).
If you do need to have face-to-face appointments, remember that hospitals and medical centres are well prepared to see pregnant women and their babies during outbreaks of infectious diseases. Birthing centres, hospitals and medical clinics are taking precautions during the COVID-19 outbreak to protect your safety when you come in for appointments.
Queensland Health also provides online antenatal education which you can read through at your own pace.
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 and are taking extra precautions 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 will be able to provide you with information and help for feeding your baby, bathing, changing nappies and other newborn needs.
Co-location of the mother and baby (staying together) is recommended wherever possible. Your doctor, midwife or child health nurse will provide you with information and ongoing care once you are at home.
How can I prevent my baby getting COVID-19?
If you have COVID-19 it is important to do everything you can to prevent your baby getting the virus (even if you don’t have symptoms). This is why 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)
- regularly 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?
Breastmilk is an ideal first food for your newborn baby and breastfeeding is safe to do during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is currently no evidence that the virus carries through breastmilk, and breastmilk can contain properties that 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. Additional precautions (found on this page and in our breastfeeding fact sheet) are recommended while in close contact with your baby.
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, it is important that you follow regular hygiene guidelines like you would at any time, including:
- wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds prior to touching the pump or bottle parts and after nappy changes
- sterilize the bottle, pump and all included parts after each use
- if you are unwell, have a healthy care-giver feed your baby – if possible
- remind other care-givers to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser/gel before and after touching your baby
I am feeling worried, who can I talk to?
The event of COVID-19 may affect the mental wellbeing of women and their families, 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. However, 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, however can often appear 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 Association (PANDA): 1300 726 306
If you have a question about coronavirus (COVID-19), call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.