COVID-19 and pregnancy

During the current COVID-19 pandemic many pregnant women are feeling anxious about their own health and that of their unborn or newborn baby. Here is some information to help you through this time.

Follow precautionary measures

Practising good hand and cough hygiene and following the current level advice are the best ways to protect you and your baby from COVID-19. Also keep looking after yourself during your pregnancy, both physically and mentally. Read more about pregnancy and wellbeing

Continue to have regular check-ups

Keep getting regular check-ups during your pregnancy, to monitor the health of yourself and your baby. Talk to your lead maternity carer (LMC) as to how this will be done at different levels. They 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. Read more about telehealth.

Get vaccinated

Pregnant women
All pregnant women should be vaccinated for the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) because the risk of these is just as high as ever. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy protects you and your newborn baby against these serious infections. 

Also, although these vaccinations won't protect you against COVID-19, they will help reduce hospital admissions. If there are fewer people in the community ill with these infections, this puts less pressure on health resources needed to care for people with COVID-19. Read more about COVID-19 and immunisations and pregnancy and immunisations.

Babies
It is crucial that infants get their regular vaccinations as outlined in the National Immunisation Programme. These are usually given at 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months and 15 months. These vaccinations protect against a range of diseases, including whooping cough and measles, the risk of which is as high as ever. Read more about childhood immunisation

Breastfeed your baby

It is safe to breastfeed your baby – there is no evidence of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding offers the best protection for babies, so if your baby is less than 6 months old, aim for exclusive breastfeeding. 

Continue to practise good hand and cough hygiene. Wash your hands before and after touching your baby and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched. You can express breast milk, following good hygiene practices. 

Use valid information sources

Because COVID-19 is a new disease, information about its effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding are still evolving. There is much information on the internet, but not all sources are credible. 

The following are trustworthy organisations that are constantly reviewing the current situation and updating their websites with information about pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions, it is best to talk to your midwife.

Source Description
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) RANZCOG is dedicated to the establishment of high standards of practice in obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health in New Zealand and Australia. See advice and information 
Ministry of Health, NZ  COVID-19 - Breastfeeding advice for pregnant women, or those who have recently given birth.
World Health Organisation (WHO)  The WHO has created a list of common question and answers on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. See Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), UK The RCOG has created a list of common question and answers on coronavirus infection and pregnancy.

References

  1. COVID-19 - Breastfeeding advice for pregnant women, or those who have recently given birth Ministry of Health, New Zealand

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Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team. Last reviewed: 27 Mar 2020