Print

People who are pregnant, breastfeeding or concerned about fertility — COVID-19

COVID-19 can affect anyone, but pregnant people are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and complications if they get the virus. If you have any questions or concerns, your GP, obstetrician or midwife is the best person to help you make informed decisions about your healthcare.

How COVID-19 can affect your pregnancy

If you get COVID-19 while you are pregnant, you have a higher risk of certain complications compared to those who are not pregnant who get COVID-19, including an increased risk of needing:

  • admission to hospital (about 5 times higher)
  • admission to an intensive care unit (about 2-3 times higher)
  • breathing life support (about 3 times higher).

There is not enough evidence yet to know if you can pass COVID-19 on to your unborn baby, but having it during pregnancy increases the risk of complications for newborns, including an increased risk of:

  • being born prematurely before 37 weeks of pregnancy (about 1.5 times higher)
  • needing admission to a hospital neonatal intensive care unit (about 3 times higher).

You are likely to have a severe illness from COVID-19 if you have certain conditions compared to those who don’t. The conditions are:

  • being overweight or obese (body mass index above 30 kg/m2)
  • having pre-existing (pre-pregnancy) high blood pressure
  • having pre-existing (pre-pregnancy) diabetes (type 1 or type 2).

Looking after you and your baby if you have COVID-19

Attend all of your antenatal appointments leading up to the birth of your baby. If you are in isolation, contact your healthcare provider to see how you can have your appointment via the phone or a video call.

If you get COVID-19, try to prevent your baby getting the virus (even if you don’t have symptoms). Follow these important steps:

  • 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 help you care for your baby.

Feeding

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 carries through breastmilk. Breastmilk 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
  • use a tissue or your elbow to cover your sneezes and coughs.

If you are feeding your baby expressed breastmilk or formula, hygiene guidelines also apply. You should:

  • 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
  • use a tissue or your elbow to cover your sneezes and coughs.

Find out more about:

If you need support with breastfeeding, call the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline on 1800 686 268.

Staying COVID-safe at hospital and birth centres

Hospitals and birth centres are still safe places. Queensland Health facilities provide high-quality maternity and newborn services. Extra precautions are being taken to make sure you, your baby and staff stay safe. 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.

You will receive the same level of care you would receive at any other time. Staff can help with feeding, bathing, changing nappies and other newborn needs.

Your doctor, midwife or child health nurse can provide you with information and ongoing care once you are at home.

Vaccination while pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should follow the same advice as the general public and get vaccinated with Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna). This reduces your risk of severe illness and complications from COVID-19.

You can safely get your vaccine during any stage of your pregnancy. The sooner you do so, the better protected you will be against COVID-19 throughout your pregnancy.

If you are breastfeeding, you do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after vaccination. The mRNA in Pfizer or Moderna is rapidly broken down in the body and does not pass into breastmilk.

Research shows vaccination against COVID-19 does not lead to any increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as:

  • premature delivery
  • stillbirth
  • small for gestational age infants
  • congenital anomalies.

Wait at least 7 days between a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and any other vaccine (except for influenza, which can be received at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine). This applies to both doses and may affect the timing of the whooping cough vaccine, which is ideally given between 20 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. The influenza and the whooping cough vaccines can also be given together on the same day (but not the same day as the COVID-19 vaccine).

Vaccination and fertility

There is no evidence to suggest that any vaccines approved for use in Australia have any effect on male or female fertility. This includes the COVID-19 vaccine.

When planning for pregnancy, you can be confident that the COVID-19 vaccine does not affect your fertility, conception or carrying a baby to term.

Parents be confident that getting their child or teenager vaccinated will not impact their future fertility.

Find out more from:

What to do if you are feeling worried

Experiencing a range of emotions while pregnant is normal. If you start to feel worried and the worrying feeling doesn’t go away, speak with your GP, obstetrician or midwife as well as your partner or a close friend.

Depression and anxiety can occur at any time in life, especially major events like pregnancy, having a baby and with added stressors like COVID-19. Seek support early and you can make a big difference to your mental health and wellbeing.

Read more on perinatal anxiety or contact a health professional at:

Duration 00:01:45

Hi, I’m Rebecca Kimble obstetrician and gynaecologist.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus. It is expected that most pregnant women who get the virus, will only get mild or moderate cold or flu like symptoms.

The risk of infection passing from mother to baby during pregnancy is thought to be low. So far, the virus has not been shown to pass from the mother to her baby before birth, this is called ‘vertical transmission’.

To protect yourself and your baby, you can reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 by washing your hands regularly and frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub if no soap or water is available.

Use social distancing and avoid anyone who has a fever, cough or symptoms. Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth.

It is important that you continue with your antenatal care and discuss any changes to your birth preferences with your doctor, midwife or other healthcare provider.

To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, hospitals may have to change the way care is provided. We are expanding opportunities for pregnant women to be seen in the community and through telehealth services, including video and phone services.

This is a new virus and we will continue to update you as information becomes available.

We encourage you to read our fact sheets which have more detailed information and links to services. Ask your doctor, midwife or healthcare provider about what care is right for you.

More information