COVID-19 and pregnancy

Being pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic has made many people anxious about their own health and that of their unborn or newborn baby. Here is some information to help you through this time.

Follow advice to prevent COVID-19 

Practising good hand and cough hygiene and following the current alert 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

Make contact early 

Contact your lead maternity carer (LMC) or midwife early in your pregnancy, so you can be assessed for risk factors and referred for other appointments, if needed.

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 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 (by video call) for some of your appointments. Read more about telehealth.

Get the usual vaccinations

If you are pregnant, you should get vaccinated against 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. 

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

It is crucial that babies and 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

Discuss whether to have the COVID-19 vaccine

If you are pregnant and at risk of exposure to COVID-19, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. For those at low risk of exposure, it is recommended to delay vaccination until after birth.

You should discuss your individual situation (particularly if you have other medical conditions) and the benefits and risks of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant with your midwife or doctor. If you are pregnant and choose to have the vaccine, you can get early access. This is because you can become very sick if you are pregnant and get COVID-19. Read more about COVID-19 vaccination, pregnancy and lactation

Be assured that hospitals are safe 

If you are asked to go to hospital for care or assessment, be reassured that it is safe to do so, at any alert level of the COVID-19 response. 

  • Check with your LMC that they have safe sleep devices available in the maternity unit if you need one. 
  • When you are discharged from hospital, make sure your maternity team has given you advice on how to tell if you are getting sick, who to contact if you do get sick and how to contact them.

Breastfeed your baby

It's 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. 

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 reliable information sources

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

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, 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 Organization (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, NZ
  2. Maternity support for women during Covid-19 Health Quality & Safety Commission, NZ
  3. COVID-19 – who an get a vaccine? Ministry of Health, NZ, 2021
  4. COVID-19 Comirnaty™ (Pfizer/BioNTech) vaccination and pregnancy The Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.