FAQ about COVID-19 and pregnancy
The most common symptoms reported in pregnant women are similar to those in non-pregnant adults – fever, cough and shortness of breath. Although we are still learning about pregnant women and COVID-19, it appears less dangerous for pregnant women than past epidemics such as SARS or the Middle Eastern Respiratory syndrome (MERS). Recent reports from the UK suggests that most pregnant women do not have severe illness. However, extra caution is always best, so while you are pregnant follow the advice of health authorities carefully.
Simple hygiene and physical distancing measures can help to protect you from COVID-19 and prevent its spread.
- Wash your hands regularly. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You don’t have to have hand sanitizer, but it is useful for situations where you don’t have access to soap and water.
- Wash your hands after going to the toilet, before touching food, after being out in public, after being around sick people, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough or sneeze into your elbow. If you’ve used a tissue, put it into a bin and wash your hands afterwards.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Where possible, stay at least two metres away from anyone who’s sneezing or coughing
- Observe all government rules on physical distancing and travel - Victorian government advice available here.
Yes! It is especially important to protect yourself from catching influenza during this time. All pregnant women should have the flu vaccine, this will help protect both you and your newborn baby from serious illness. You should also have your whooping cough booster during pregnancy to protect your baby.
The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not appear to cause birth malformations or other specific problems for babies. Of the women who have had COVID-19 in late pregnancy, very few of their babies tested positive for infection soon after birth. Unwell mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely, but this is due to a variety of factors, including pregnancy-related complications. Researchers around the world are actively working together to collect information on outcomes for mothers and babies so that doctors are better informed when providing care and advice.
Currently in Australia, babies are not automatically separated from mothers with COVID-19 if the mothers are well. Precautions are taken to reduce the risk of the mother passing on infection, such as the mother wearing a mask while feeding her baby. The virus has not been detected in breast milk, so can still feed your baby breast milk. As more information about the risks become available, medical advice may change.
Maternity health care workers are doing everything they can to keep mothers and babies safe during this challenging time. This includes temperature measurements and screening for all hospital visitors and staff, and increased hygiene measures. Hospital visitor rules have changed reduce the number of people coming in and out– this is to protect you, your loved ones, and your health care providers. Given the current restriction, your partner cannot come to your antenatal visits or ultrasound scans except under special circumstances, and you may only have one support person with you during the birth of your baby.
You may have already noticed big changes to your antenatal care. You will be receiving information with relevant updates via SMS. Some of your antenatal consultations might be via telephone or video, rather than in person. However, if you have an appointment at the hospital- whether for a visit with your doctor/midwife or an ultrasound- it is important that you keep it. If you are unwell, or in self- isolation, give us a call, and we will make alternate arrangements. Obstetricians and midwives are very conscious of the concerns that pregnant women and their partners have about their care at this time. A special video message of support from Australian obstetricians to all pregnant women and their families can be viewed here.
Feelings of anxiety and fear are normal in this current situation. You can watch a short video with practical tips on how to manage feelings of anxiety during the pandemic here.
You can also find information about how mindfulness can help here.
If you wish to have further support, please talk to your midwife or doctor. They may be able to help you directly, or they can refer you to our perinatal mental health team or our social work department for further support.