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COVID-19 and pregnancy

7-minute read

If you experience breathing difficulties call triple zero (000) and follow the operator’s instructions. Be sure to tell them you are pregnant.

What are the risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy?

Most people who get COVID-19 will experience only mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms.

However, unvaccinated pregnant women have a higher risk of complications due to COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant women of the same age. There is an increased risk of being admitted to hospital as well as needing ventilation.

The risk of severe disease during pregnancy reduces if you have been vaccinated. Vaccinated pregnant women who have had 3 doses of a vaccine have been shown to have lower rates of severe COVID-19.

Unvaccinated pregnant women who have other risk factors are even more likely to need treatment in hospital. These include:

The possibility of having a premature birth increases if you become ill with COVID-19 and your newborn could need further care in hospital.

COVID-19 may also increase the risk of stillbirth. Your maternity care providers will monitor your baby’s growth while you have COVID-19 and during your recovery.

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 increases the risk of miscarriage or birth defects.

What can I do to protect myself from COVID-19?

Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to help protect yourself from COVID-19. The vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of severe illness and can also help reduce the chances of transmission. If you’re pregnant, the Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for you, and you can be vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy.

You should also practise good hand and cough hygiene and avoid people who are unwell. It's also important that everyone in your household and immediate family does the same. If you have other children, teach them about the importance of good hygiene and how and when to wash their hands.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser (for example, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet).
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues and dispose of them straight away; wash your hands afterwards.
  • Cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow.
  • Cough away from other people.

What happens if I get COVID-19 while I am pregnant?

If you are vaccinated, you should be able to safely stay at home while you recover from COVID-19. If you haven’t been vaccinated, you will most likely be carefully monitored by your doctor.

Contact your doctor or midwife immediately if you test positive to COVID-19 so they can assess your condition.

Learn more about what to do if you test positive to COVID-19 while pregnant or breastfeeding.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm planning a pregnancy?

If you are planning a pregnancy, you can get the vaccine. You don’t need to avoid becoming pregnant or delay pregnancy after getting vaccinated.

There is no evidence that women who become pregnant after being vaccinated have an increased risk of developing complications that will affect their pregnancy or their baby’s health.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm pregnant?

Yes, you can get vaccinated at any stage during your pregnancy. This includes getting any recommended booster doses.

COVID-19 bivalent vaccines are preferred during pregnancy. If you cannot have or do not wish to have these vaccines, you can have Pfizer original formulation or Novavax vaccine.

Your chances of having severe COVID-19 are reduced if you are vaccinated.

Research has also shown that antibodies created in pregnant women after having the COVID-19 vaccine may provide their babies with some protection against COVID-19 when they are born.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm breastfeeding?

Yes, you can get vaccinated if you are breastfeeding.

COVID-19 bivalent vaccines are preferred while breastfeeding. If you cannot have or do not wish to have these vaccines, you can have Pfizer original formulation or Novavax vaccine.

You don’t need to stop breastfeeding before or after getting vaccinated.

There is also some evidence to suggest that breastfeeding women who have had the vaccine may pass on antibodies through breastmilk, which may offer some protection to your baby.

Should I get the flu shot?

Yes, all pregnant women should get a flu shot. Even though COVID-19 and the flu are different viruses, it's important to do whatever you can to avoid getting sick during your pregnancy.

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 still be going to my antenatal appointments?

Having regular check-ups during your pregnancy is important to monitor the health of you and your baby. If you have any concerns about going to your regular check-up, speak to your doctor or hospital before making any changes to your appointments.

Your doctor may recommend less frequent visits if you and your baby are healthy, or they might be able to offer telehealth consultations (video call) for some of your appointments.

My baby is due soon. Is it safe for me to give birth in hospital?

Hospitals and birthing centres will most likely have guidelines in place to ensure you and your baby are kept safe.

If you have any concerns, contact your hospital or birthing centre.

Resources and support

The best person to speak to is your maternity care provider, such as your doctor or midwife. They will be able to give you the information and advice you need.

Visit healthdirect to learn more about COVID-19, including information in languages other than English.

Visit the Department of Health and Aged Care to learn more about pregnancy, breastfeeding and COVID-19 vaccines.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.


The Royal Women’s Hospital (COVID-19: Advice for visitors and pregnant women), Queensland Health (Maternity care for mothers and babies during the COVID-19 pandemic), The Lancet (Were pregnant women more affected by COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic?), RANZCOG (COVID-19 vaccination when pregnant or breastfeeding and for those planning pregnancy), NSW Health (COVID-19 advice for pregnant women and new parents)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

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COVID-19: pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding | Raising Children Network

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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