FAQ about COVID-19 and pregnancy
Yes. The most common symptoms reported in pregnant women are similar to those in non-pregnant adults – fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, although most pregnant women with COVID-19 make a full recovery, they do have a higher risk of severe disease compared with non-pregnant adults. Their babies also have a higher risk of being born prematurely.
Yes! Pregnant women are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination because they are at higher risk of severe disease. Do not delay vaccination until after the baby is born.
- Real-world evidence has shown that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding women.
- COVID-19 vaccination may provide indirect protection to babies by transferring antibodies through the placenta (for pregnant women) or through breastmilk (for breastfeeding women).
- Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.
Talk to your health care provider about vaccination. Visit the VaxFACTs site to watch video answers to common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to access information for the public on COVID-19 and women's health from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Simple hygiene and physical distancing measures will 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 can have both the COVID-19 and the flu vaccine during pregnancy.
More information having the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations can be found here.
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, 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.
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. It is still safe to feed your baby breast milk if you have COVID-19.
Maternity health care workers are doing everything they can to keep mothers and babies safe during this challenging time. This includes screening for all hospital visitors and staff, increased hygiene measures, and COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers and hospital staff. 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. Visitor rules will change according to the current government restrictions: Mercy Health visiting policies are regularly updated here.
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.