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Pregnancy and COVID-19

8-minute read

If you develop symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately. Tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

How serious is COVID-19 during pregnancy?

Pregnant women with COVID-19 have a higher risk of certain complications than non-pregnant women with COVID-19 of the same age. There is an increased risk of being admitted to hospital as well as needing ventilation.

COVID-19 also increases the risk of certain pregnancy complications including premature birth and stillbirth, or your baby needing admission to a newborn care unit.

Pregnant women with certain underlying medical conditions are also more likely to have severe illness if they contract COVID-19, including:

How can I protect myself from COVID-19 while I’m pregnant?

Pregnant women should take the same precautions as other people to avoid COVID-19. You can help protect yourself and others by doing the following:

  • wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub, or soap and water
  • keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others and avoid crowded spaces
  • wear a face mask where it is not possible to physically distance
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately

What should I do if I get COVID-19 while I’m pregnant?

If have tested positive to COVID-19 while you are pregnant, 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 access your regular maternity care while you are isolating with COVID-19.

If your maternity care providers advises 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)

During this time you should also monitor your baby's movements and look out for any signs your symptoms are getting worse. Contact your maternity care providers immediately if you have any concerns.

Learn more on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website about what to do if you test positive to COVID-19 while pregnant.

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

Can COVID-19 affect my baby?

Your maternity care providers will monitor your health and your baby’s growth while you have COVID-19 and during your recovery.

If you are very unwell and need to be treated in hospital, you may be advised to have your baby early.

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

Can I have my baby in hospital if I have COVID-19?

Having your baby in hospital is the safest option if you have COVID-19 when your baby is due. Extra care will be given to make sure you, your baby and the hospital staff assisting you are kept safe. Using your planned form of pain relief, such as an epidural, should still be available to you. However, water birth or water immersion might not be possible, as healthcare workers’ personal protective equipment does not work when it’s wet.

Learn more on the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website on having your baby during COVID-19.

Can I still breastfeed if I have COVID-19?

Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to protect your baby from a variety of illnesses.

If you have COVID-19 while you are still breastfeeding, there are a number of ways to prevent passing it on to your baby:

  • wear a mask while you are near your baby
  • wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitiser – especially before touching your baby
  • sneeze or cough into your elbow and wash your hands immediately
  • if you 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, making sure to wash your hands beforehand

Your doctor, midwife or child health nurse will be able to advise you how best to breastfeed.

Even when you are well, you should always practise good hand and cough hygiene when breastfeeding your baby.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

If you are planning a pregnancy

You don’t need to avoid becoming pregnant before or after vaccination. Vaccination does not affect fertility.

Getting vaccinated before conceiving means you’re likely to have protection against COVID-19 throughout your pregnancy.

You’re not required to have a pregnancy test before getting vaccinated.

If you're planning a pregnancy, it’s recommended you have the Pfizer vaccine, called Comirnaty, or the Moderna vaccine, called Spikevax.

If you don't have access or can't have an mRNA vaccine, you can consider vaccination with Novavax or AstraZeneca, but you will need to discuss with your doctor beforehand.

If you are pregnant

If you’re pregnant, the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine is recommended for you.

You can have Pfizer or Moderna at any stage of pregnancy.

If you don't have access or can't have an mRNA vaccine, you can consider vaccination with Novavax or AstraZeneca, but you will need to discuss with your doctor beforehand.

BOOK YOUR VACCINATION — Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder to book your COVID vaccination or booster.

Breastfeeding

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are recommended for breastfeeding women and you do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after being vaccinated.

There’s evidence that vaccination during breastfeeding may offer protection to babies by transferring antibodies through your breastmilk.

Booster doses

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you can have a booster dose if:

  • you’re 16 years and over
  • you’ve had the second dose of your primary course of COVID-19 vaccination at least 3 months ago

Talk to your doctor about the benefit of a booster dose if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and if you have suffered an adverse reaction to either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

For more information, read the Australian Government’s Shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.

Related topics

Treating symptoms at home

Treating symptoms at home

People with a mild case of COVID-19 can treat their symptoms in a similar way to how they treat a seasonal flu. Here's how to relieve symptoms at home.

Getting the vaccination

Getting the vaccination

Find out who can get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether it's safe for pregnant women or older people, and when and where you can get vaccinated.

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

Last reviewed: February 2022


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