Pregnancy

For all pregnant women

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?

Information on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is limited because the virus is new.

Pregnant women do not seem more likely to get COVID-19 than other people.

For those that do get COVID-19, most have mild or moderate illness that can be managed at home.

Some pregnant women may get very sick with COVID-19 and need hospital care.

Pregnant women at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those:

  • in the last three months of pregnancy (third trimester)
  • with heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems
  • who are obese (very overweight)
  • who smoke.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been a few times when the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, it did not appear to harm the baby.

How can I protect myself and my baby from COVID-19?

It is important to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19.

  • Stay at home as much as possible but continue your pregnancy check-ups with your midwife and/or doctor.
  • Wash your hands often and well, using soap and running water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Always wash your hands before touching your face (especially lips, mouth, nose, eyes), food or drinks.
  • Stay away from people you don’t live with (except your doctor / midwife).
  • Stay well away from people who are sick.

It important to look after your general health during this time too.

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife about how to stay healthy, for you and your baby.
  • Get your flu shot. It won’t protect against COVID-19, but will help protect you against influenza, which can also make pregnant women very sick.
  • Get vaccinated against whooping cough (after 20 weeks’ gestation) to protect your baby. Whooping cough is a serious and potentially deadly illness for babies.
  • Consider online fitness programs to help you stay active at home. Pregnancy yoga and Pilates are good options. Talk with your midwife or doctor about what’s right for you.
  • Get enough vitamin D, especially in Tasmania’s cooler months when it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun.

Mind your mind. Being pregnant can be a stressful time. COVID-19 may have added to your stress levels. Keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls, video and social media. Stay connected on social media with groups that can help support you during this time.

I'm feeling down or anxious, where can I get help?

If you are struggling or need to talk with someone, talk with your partner, GP or midwife, or call a support service:

It’s time to seek advice from a health professional if:

  • you feel consistently bad (eg sad or worried) for more than two weeks
  • negative thoughts and feelings start to affect your ability to function normally
  • you have signs of depression, eg if you lose interest in doing things you usually enjoy, or often feel hopeless or unable to cope
  • you feel anxious or worried most or all the time
  • you start having panic attacks or develop obsessive or compulsive behaviours.

Will there be changes to my antenatal care (pregnancy check-ups)?

Your doctor or midwife may change the way you have pregnancy check-ups, to help protect you and others from COVID-19.

They may:

  • shorten the time of your antenatal visits / pregnancy checkups
  • increase the time between your antenatal visits / pregnancy check ups
  • do some of your checks over the phone or by video
  • do fewer antenatal classes and make classes smaller, or provide the classes online
  • ask you to attend your appointments alone
  • limit your birth support team to just your partner and maternity ward staff
  • restrict visitors in hospital before, during and after the birth, allowing only your partner to visit
  • arrange for you to go home from hospital early, with support from midwives visiting you at home.

Will there be changes when I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

General information is also available on the Department of Health website.

For pregnant women told to quarantine or who have or may have COVID-19

What happens if I get sick with COVID-19? Will I need to go to hospital?

If you test positive for COVID-19 or told you are a ‘probable case’, please phone your doctor or midwife and tell them.

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild illness. If you get COVID-19 and have mild symptoms, you can stay at home. A healthcare worker will contact you most days while you are sick, to check how you are.

If you get very sick, you might need to be cared for in hospital.

Any time, if you think you are getting worse, call your doctor or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738). If you are very unwell or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell the operator you have COVID-19 and are pregnant.

If you are worried about your baby, call your maternity unit, midwife or doctor.

If I have COVID-19, what will that mean for my baby?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been times when it is possible the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, the virus did not seem to harm the baby.

As a precaution, an ultrasound scan will be arranged for a few weeks after your recovery to check that your baby is well. However, if you are concerned for any reason during your pregnancy, contact your midwife and/or doctor.

Some women overseas with COVID-19 have given birth prematurely (early). This may be because the virus caused early birth or because doctors recommended the baby be born early because the mother was sick.

If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 when your baby is born, your baby may be tested for the virus.

Your doctor and midwife will talk to you about the best way to keep your baby safe.

What should I do if I have been told to quarantine and I'm due for a check-up?

If you have been told to self-quarantine because of COVID-19 and are due to attend a pregnancy check up with your doctor or midwife, phone them and let them know your situation.

Your doctor or midwife will tell you if your appointment should go ahead and what you need to do.

What should I do if I am worried about my baby?

Contact your maternity unit, doctor or midwife if:

  • you are worried about your baby at any time
  • your baby’s movements change
  • you think your waters have broken
  • labour pains start.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect where I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

Your plan to birth in hospital will not change.

In hospital, midwives will closely monitor you to ensure your labour is progressing well and that your baby is coping with labour, using electronic foetal monitoring. This can only happen in a delivery unit where doctors and midwives are present.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect how I give birth?

If you are well, COVID-19 should not cause big changes to how you give birth.

If you are unwell or short of breath, your doctor may recommend a caesarean birth.

Your doctor / midwife / birth team are likely to wear personal protective equipment (including gowns and facemasks) to protect themselves.

Your doctor and midwife will talk with you about pain relief options that are consistent with national guidelines and your obstetrician.

What should I do if I go into labour while I am in quarantine for COVID-19?

If you have been told to quarantine because of COVID-19 and you go into labour, call your midwife or hospital birth team.

Tell them you are in quarantine because of COVID-19. They will tell you what to do and where to go.

Your midwife and hospital birth team will know how to look after you and your baby safely and will follow your birth plan as much as possible.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Your doctor or midwife might tell you to stay at home in the early stage of labour. This is normal any time.

When it is time for you to go hospital:

  • wash your hands before leaving home
  • travel in your own car with your partner if you can (unless your partner has symptoms of COVID-19, in which case they should stay at home)
  • call the maternity unit when you arrive outside the hospital; staff will meet you at the hospital entrance and give you a surgical mask to wear until you get to your room
  • if your partner is well, they can stay with you during labour
  • it is likely other support people and visitors will not be allowed.

Will I be able to hold and feed my baby?

If you are sick with COVID-19, you should still be able to hold and feed your baby if you are well enough. Your midwife will show you how to protect your baby.

There is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread through breast milk. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks.

Whichever way you choose to feed, you will need to:

  • wash and dry your hands well (or use alcohol-based hand rub) before touching your baby, breast pump or any other feeding equipment
  • wear a facemask over your mouth and nose while holding or feeding your baby.

If you express breast milk in hospital, use a breast pump that can be cleaned carefully after each use.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about COVID-19 and pregnancy / childbirth, talk with your doctor or midwife or go to the following groups for information: