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Mumps and pregnancy

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Mumps is a contagious viral illness.
  • Mumps may cause problems during pregnancy.
  • Mumps can be prevented through vaccination.
  • If you're planning a pregnancy, speak with your doctor and find out if you need to get vaccinated.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious illness caused by a virus. Before mumps vaccine was given as part of routine childhood vaccinations, it was a common illness in Australia.

Most people recover from mumps in 1 to 2 weeks.

Most people who have been vaccinated or who have had mumps in the past have life-long immunity.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Around 1 in every 3 people who are infected with the mumps virus don't feel sick at all.

Those who do get sick may have some of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

This is followed by the most recognisable sign of mumps — large swollen salivary glands. This may be on one or both sides of your face.

Check your symptoms with the healthdirect symptom checker tool.

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

How is mumps spread?

Mumps is spread by respiratory droplets that travel through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The virus can also spread through touching items that an infected person has touched, such as:

  • surfaces
  • tissues

Mumps can also be spread through direct contact with saliva (spit) or urine (wee).

It can take 14 to 18 days to get sick after being exposed to someone with mumps.

If you have mumps, you are contagious from about 2 days before getting sick — although in some cases this can be as much as 7 days. You remain contagious until around 9 days after you first noticed the symptoms.

When should I see my doctor?

If you think you might have mumps, it's important to see your doctor.

Be sure to call ahead and let the receptionist know of your concerns. This lets staff protect other people in the waiting room.

How can mumps affect my pregnancy?

Being infected with mumps in the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy may raise your risk of miscarriage.

Mumps and my unborn baby

Having mumps in pregnancy is not linked to an increased risk of congenital anomalies (birth differences) for your baby.

How is mumps treated?

There is no specific treatment for mumps.

Paracetamol can help with pain from your swollen glands and to lower your fever. Paracetamol can be taken during pregnancy according to the information on the pack.

It's important to note that other pain medicines may need to be avoided in pregnancy. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine during pregnancy.

If your glands are sore, try applying a cold compress. This may provide some relief from the discomfort.

It may be uncomfortable to eat when you have swollen glands but try to keep drinking water. Purees and soft foods may be easier for you to swallow than solid foods.

How can I prevent mumps?

Mumps can be prevented by vaccination. However, vaccination during pregnancy is not advised.

The mumps vaccine is provided as a combined vaccination, either as:

  • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV)

These vaccines are live attenuated vaccines. There are concerns that if they're given during pregnancy, they may affect the health of your baby.

How can I stop the spread of mumps?

If you have been diagnosed with mumps, there are things you can do to help stop its spread.

You can use standard hygiene practices like:

  • washing your hands often — especially after using the toilet, helping someone in the toilet or changing a nappy
  • not sharing food and drink
  • coughing and sneezing into your elbows
  • throwing used tissues directly into the bin

You also need to keep away from any place where you could infect others. It's best to stay home from work and don't pick up children from school or day care.

It's important to remember that not everyone with mumps has symptoms, and even people without symptoms can spread mumps.

I'm planning a pregnancy — what can I do to avoid mumps?

If you are planning a pregnancy, find out when and how to get vaccinated against mumps. You can speak to your doctor or contact the National Immunisation Information Line on 1800 671 811 for more information.

Your doctor will arrange a blood test if your vaccination or infection history isn't known. This will show if you have immunity against mumps.

If you are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine, you should not get pregnant for at least 28 days.

It's safe to have the MMR vaccine after your baby is born, even if you are breastfeeding.

Resources and support

If you have any questions or concerns about the mumps during pregnancy, speak to your doctor.

Find out how babies and children can catch measles, how to treat your child at home, and when to have them vaccinated.

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.

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

Last reviewed: June 2023


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Need more information?

Mumps in Australia | Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Mumps is a contagious infection of the salivary glands, caused by the mumps virus.

Read more on AIHW – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website

Mumps | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

Mumps is an infection of the salivary glands caused by the mumps virus.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Mumps in babies and children

Find out how babies and children catch mumps, the symptoms, how to treat your child at home, and when to have them vaccinated against mumps.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Mumps - MyDr.com.au

Find out about the symptoms, treatment, and complications of mumps, as well as how to prevent this disease.

Read more on myDr website

Mumps fact sheet - Fact sheets

Mumps is a contagious viral infection that occurs mainly in school-aged children. Immunisation with mumps containing vaccine prevents the disease.

Read more on NSW Health website

Mumps - Better Health Channel

Mumps is a viral illness that causes fever and swollen salivary glands, and a swollen face.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Mumps in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Mumps is a viral illness that spreads through saliva from coughing and sneezing. Mumps is rare in Australia because most children are immunised against it.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Measles, Mumps And Rubella (MMR) Vaccine | SA Health

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine recommendations, possible side effects and how to reduce the side effects

Read more on SA Health website

Mumps vaccine | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

Information about mumps vaccines, who it is recommended for, how and where to get vaccinated. If you're eligible, you can get the mumps vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program.

Read more on Department of Health and Aged Care website

Mumps | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

Find out how we define and monitor cases of mumps, how you can get vaccinated, and where you can learn more about this disease.

Read more on Department of Health and Aged Care website

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