Queensland Health have put out a factsheet for women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby and who have questions about how the COVID-19 outbreak could affect you and your baby.
The factsheet answers questions such as will your birth plan need to change,what health risks does COVID-19 pose to you and your family and should you still be going to the hospital for your antenatal appointments and birth.
Queensland Health said women should still attend my appointments with their GPs, midwifes or obstetricians.
At these appointments, your health practitioner checks in on your health and your baby's health and makes sure everything is still going well, so it's very important that you go.
Some appointments for pregnant women will be provided by telehealth (appointments over the phone or by video call). Call your healthcare provider to discuss how they would like to set up your appointments going forward.
If you do need to have face-to-face appointments hospitals and medical centres are well prepared to see pregnant women and their babies during outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Pregnant women should follow the same advice as the general public to prevent themselves from coming into contact with the virus.
- Wash your hands often and properly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands when you leave and return to your home, before you prepare food, before you eat and after you use the toilet.
- If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser to clean your hands.
- Try not to touch your face.
- Limit the amount of times you need to leave the house - only leave for essential purposes, like buying food, going to work or going to medical appointments.
- Stay at least 1.5 metres away from people who don't live in your home.
- Stay at least 1.5 metres away from anyone who is unwell.
If you become unwell at any time during your pregnancy, it's important that you let your doctor, midwife or healthcare provider know. Most women who are pregnant and get COVID-19 will experience mild illness, like a cold or the flu, and will recover fully. Pregnant women who have heart or lung conditions might become more unwell. Illnesses like COVID-19 can cause a high fever (temperature). If you ever have a high fever during your pregnancy, you need to call your doctor, midwife or healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you do get COVID-19 during your pregnancy, health authorities don't think it's common for pregnant women to pass the virus on to their baby.
Your antenatal classes might be rescheduled or held by video. Speak to the teacher, hospital or birth centre about what changes there might be, and if the class is cancelled, how you can access this information in a different way. Online antenatal education provided by Queensland Health has topics such as what to expect during pregnancy, what happens during birth and the options for managing labour and birth, how to look after your new baby.
Queensland public hospitals are still offering high-quality maternity services to pregnant women. Hospitals and birth centres have made some changes surrounding birth to protect you, your baby and the hospital staff. Changes may include not permitting water immersion or a water birth if you have COVID-19, limiting the number of people who can be with you during the birth to one, and limiting gas for pain relief if you have COVID-19.
Hospital or a birth centre are still the safest place for you and your baby to be. If you live in a regional or remote area and need to travel to a hospital for your birth, you should follow the plans you already had to do this. If there are any changes to this your local health service will contact you.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and it's time for you to have your baby, your medical team will take special precautions to protect everyone, including your baby, from contracting the virus. This might include wearing special equipment and asking you to wear special equipment, like a face mask. They might also monitor your baby more often during your labour.
If you and your baby are well enough after birth, you may be able to go home after a few hours. It's important to think about who can help and support you and your baby when you go home.
If you have COVID-19, there is a chance that your baby might catch it from you after birth. Your medical team will show you some steps to lower the risk of your baby catching the virus, like washing your hands before you touch your baby, and wearing a mask.
The level of care you receive after having your baby will be the same as it would have been at any other time. Staff will be able to provide you with information and help for feeding your baby, bathing, changing nappies and other newborn needs.
If mum and baby are well and the hospital staff feel it is safe, some mothers may choose to leave the hospital soon after giving birth. Other mothers may need to stay longer.
Your midwife, child health nurse or doctor will provide you with information and ongoing care once you are at home.
The hospital you are at may have changed their guidelines about who can come and visit you and your baby ,and when they are allowed to come. Check with them about what is allowed. It might be that only one person can visit you, possibly the person who was with you during the birth.
Visitors may be asked not to bring gifts or flowers to the hospital. Ask people to send these to your home for you to enjoy once you and baby have returned.
Your other children will not be able to visit you and the baby in hospital. It's a good idea to organise for someone to look after them while you are at the hospital for the birth and for the days following, and to plan for a special reunion and time to meet the baby at home.
Once you're home with your baby, you should follow the same guidelines as we're recommending for everyone at this time. Stay at home as much as possible, practise good hygiene and limit the number of people coming into your house to no more than two people at once, who stay 1.5 metres away from you when possible.
You and your baby will still have regular appointments with either your midwife, child health nurse or GP, and it's important you still have these appointments. They may be done in person, or if possible, it might be arranged for you to do these over the phone or by video call. Your midwife or someone from the hospital will come to your home to visit you after your baby has been born. They are likely to also make contact with you by phone.
Breastmilk is an ideal first food for your newborn baby and breastfeeding is safe to do during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is currently no evidence that the virus carries through breastmilk, and breastmilk can even contain properties that help protect your baby from germs.
Even when you are well, you should wash your hands before touching or feeding your baby, and use a tissue or your elbow to cover your sneezes and coughs.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is still possible to breastfeed your baby, or to express milk for bottle feeding. Breastmilk contains special properties to protect your baby from germs, so it's a great food for them if they are near someone who is unwell. Talk to your health care team about their recommendations for feeding your baby safely.
If you are feeding your baby expressed breastmilk or formula, it is important that you follow regular hygiene guidelines like you would at any time, including washing your hands and properly sterilising bottles and equipment. If you have COVID-19, you may choose to have someone else bottle feed your baby until, you have recovered.
During pregnancy, most women experience a range of emotions. It's normal to feel some worry during pregnancy and when having a baby. However, if you feel worrying thoughts are becoming a regular part of life, it can help to talk about any concerns with your doctor, partner or a close friend.
Read more on perinatal anxiety or contact a health professional at:
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline: 1800 882 436
Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA): 1300 726 306