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Testing positive to COVID-19 while pregnant

8-minute read

Most people who test positive to COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and recover without going to hospital. However, if you’re pregnant, you and your baby are at a higher risk of some complications.

What should I do if I test positive to COVID-19?

If you are pregnant and have tested positive to COVID-19, you should contact your maternity care providers, like your doctor or midwife, immediately. They will be able to assess your condition and advise you on the best way to get your regular maternity care while you are isolating with COVID-19.

How is COVID-19 treated if I’m pregnant?

If you have been advised that you can safely recover from COVID-19 at home, there are several things you can do to relieve the symptoms:

  • rest as much as possible
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • take paracetamol to ease your symptoms (ibuprofen is not safe to take during pregnancy)

You should also monitor your baby's movements and look out for any signs your symptoms are getting worse.

Pregnant women are at an increased risk of needing to be admitted to hospital if they have COVID-19.

What are the signs my symptoms are getting worse?

Most people with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, similar to that of the flu. But if your symptoms get worse, contact your doctor immediately.

These symptoms are considered moderate:

  • shortness of breath while active, such as noticeably having to breathe more heavily while walking around the house
  • persistent fever (a temperature greater than 38°C) that doesn’t respond to treatment
  • coughing up mucous regularly
  • significant fatigue or lethargy stopping you from doing normal tasks

These symptoms are considered severe:

  • breathlessness at rest or not being able to speak in sentences
  • unconsciousness, fainting or drowsiness
  • skin turning blue or pale
  • cold and clammy, or pale and mottled, skin
  • pain or pressure in the chest lasting more than 10 minutes
  • confusion
  • passing no urine (‘wee’) or a lot less urine than usual
  • coughing up blood

You should also contact your maternity care providers immediately if you have any of the following symptoms during your pregnancy:

Tell your maternity care providers that you have COVID-19 so they can best advise you what to do.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker to find out if you need to seek medical help.

Are there any conditions that might make COVID-19 worse if I’m pregnant?

The following conditions or factors are more likely to cause severe illness from COVID-19 during pregnancy:

While having these conditions may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it doesn't mean this will happen. Speak to your doctor or midwife about how to monitor for symptoms and what to do if you notice any changes.

Can COVID-19 affect my baby?

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

Some women who are very unwell and need hospitalisation may be advised to have their baby early.

There is no evidence linking COVID-19 to an increased risk of miscarriage.

Can I go to regular antenatal appointments if I have COVID-19?

Speak to your maternity care providers on how to best attend your regular antenatal appointments. You should be able to have your appointment in person, if you follow face mask and hand hygiene guidelines. You may be able to have it over the phone or by video call ('telehealth').

It’s important that you keep up with your antenatal appointments, even if you have COVID-19. Your doctor or midwife will be able to make a plan with you on how best to have your usual tests, scans and vaccinations.

What happens if I go into labour while I have COVID-19?

You’ll still be able to have your baby as planned in a hospital or birthing centre, but you may not be able to have a water birth since personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns, are less effective if they get wet. You can still have pain relief and will be able to give birth in whichever position works for you.

If you're planning a home birth, your healthcare providers may recommend that you have your baby in a hospital instead.

During labour, both you and your baby will be monitored. It’s not necessary to have a caesarean if you have COVID-19, unless there are other complications with your labour.

Can I have my partner or birth support person with me when I give birth?

Many hospitals in Australia have restrictions on how many people are allowed to be with you. It’s likely you’ll be able to have one person, such as your partner or a nominated birth support partner, with you when you have your baby.

Check with the hospital or birthing centre beforehand, since your support person may need to be fully vaccinated and wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a mask, gloves and a gown.

Will I be able to hold my baby?

Yes, you will be able to hold your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is an important part of bonding with your baby after giving birth. The midwives will advise you on how to breastfeed and cuddle your baby in the safest way possible.

Will my baby be able to stay with me?

If you are well, your baby should be able to stay with you, if you follow mask and hygiene guidelines to protect your baby.

If you are unwell, you might be moved to a part of the hospital that is treating other COVID-19 infected patients. Your baby will be looked after in the nursery, or at home with your partner or a suitable caregiver.

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COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy

COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you might be wondering whether it is safe for you to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

How do I protect my baby if I have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, you can still care for your baby, but you'll need to follow some guidelines to protect your newborn.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially before touching your baby or any equipment that will come into contact with your baby, such as bottles or a breast pump.

Wear a surgical mask whenever you're near your baby. Don’t reuse masks and dispose of them immediately after use. Don’t touch the front of the mask when you are wearing it and wash your hands before putting the mask on and when you remove it.

Sneeze or cough into your elbow and wash your hands immediately. If you happen to cough or sneeze on your breast, wash the area with soap and water before breastfeeding or expressing milk.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and feeding equipment regularly.

If you have COVID-19, you shouldn’t have any visitors to your home. Once you have finished isolating, limit the number of visitors to your home and ask that they wear a mask and be fully vaccinated.

If you are fully vaccinated, you will have passed on some antibodies before birth and while breastfeeding that give your baby some protection.

Where can I get more information and advice?

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.

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.

Sources:

NSW Health (Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 for pregnant women and new parents), RACGP (Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19), Department of Health (COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy)

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

Last reviewed: March 2023


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