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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and pregnancy

7-minute read

If you are pregnant, you might be worried about how to protect yourself and your baby during the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn what you can do to limit your exposure and reduce your risk for you and your family.

IMPORTANT: If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19.

Check your symptoms

Use the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker to find out if you need to seek medical help.

I'm pregnant — should I be worried about COVID-19?

So far, evidence suggests that pregnant woman are not at any greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19. Only a small number of pregnant women have had COVID-19, but based on the current findings, it appears that pregnant women are at no greater risk than the rest of the general population.

However, any respiratory illness (such as influenza) can cause serious complications, so it is advised that pregnant women take extra precautions in practising good hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

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

Practising good hand and cough hygiene and avoiding people who have recently been overseas, if you can, are the best ways to avoid infection of COVID-19. 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 (e.g. 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
  • stay more than 1.5 metres away from people when out in public, if possible

If you are currently working, you can ask your employer what they are doing to protect their staff. Many businesses are providing guidelines for how employees should behave in the workplace; for example, by encouraging good hygiene, limiting meetings and giving staff the option to work from home.

You should also practise 'physical distancing', which includes:

  • avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is hard to keep a reasonable distance from others (about 1.5m)
  • avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces
  • trying to keep 1.5m between you and other people where possible (for example, when out in public)
  • don't shake hands, hug or kiss
  • stay away from vulnerable people, such as those in aged-care facilities or hospitals, babies or people with weakened immune systems

Looking after yourself in isolation

Although most states and territories are easing restrictions, everyone in Australia should still be careful when going out in public. Many businesses and activities are still limited or restricted. During this time, it’s important you still eat well and get some exercise to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

This is also a very stressful and worrying time for people and whether you are a first-time mum or already a parent, not having your usual support network around you can make it hard. Keep in touch with your family and friends through phone calls and video and stay connected on social media with groups that can help support you during this time.

If you are struggling or need to talk to someone, there are a number of places you can go for support.

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

Women who get COVID-19 while they are pregnant are expected to experience mild to moderate symptoms, similar to having a cold or the flu. But because of the changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, your symptoms will be monitored very closely. Most women will make a full recovery without any risk to your unborn baby.

Can I pass on COVID-19 to my baby while I am pregnant?

There has been some very recent cases that may suggest COVID-19 could be passed from mother to baby (called ‘vertical transmission’). However, this is still to be confirmed and is still in the early stages of being studied. Previous experience with other respiratory illnesses suggests your baby will not be harmed or at risk of any ongoing problems.

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. However, it is understandable that during this time you might be concerned about going to your GP or hospital. Before making any changes to your appointments, it's important that you speak to your doctor first.

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.

What should I do if I'm pregnant and recently returned from overseas?

Anyone returning to Australia from any overseas country is required to quarantine for 14 days. Providing you show no symptoms of being unwell after 14 days, you are free to leave quarantine and carry on as usual. If you do show any signs of illness, call your doctor or the hospital where you plan to have your baby. Advise them of your symptoms and travel history and follow their instructions.

You can also use the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker to find out what to do next. If the Symptom Checker advises you to seek medical help, it's very important that you call before visiting a clinic or hospital to describe the symptoms and your travel history.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

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 and 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.

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

If you have already planned to have your baby in a hospital, it is still the safest place for you to do so. Hospitals have introduced some new procedures to make sure you and your baby are kept safe.

Read more about having your baby during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Where to get more information

  • Learn more about coronavirus (COVID-19) on healthdirect, including information on symptoms, avoiding infection, self-isolation, travel and high-risk groups.
  • Use the healthdirect Restriction Checker to find out what types of gatherings, activities and businesses have been restricted in each state and territory.
  • Visit the Australian Government Department of Health for more information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources in other languages.
  • If you have symptoms, use the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker to find out what to do next.
  • If you have a general question about pregnancy, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak with a maternal child health nurse.
  • If you have a question about coronavirus (COVID-19), you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

You can also listen to Alison McMillan, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for the Department of Health, speaking to the ABC's Babytalk podcast about COVID-19 and looking after your family.

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

Last reviewed: July 2020

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

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This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.