Advice for pregnant women
If you're pregnant, you may be feeling anxious about how coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect you, your baby and your pregnancy care.
On this page you'll find information about:
- Pregnancy and your risk
- COVID-19 vaccination
- Appointments and scans
- If you develop symptoms of coronavirus
- If you have any other symptoms
- Labour and birth
- After the birth
If you are worried or have any questions, we encourage you to speak to your pregnancy care team.
Please let us know if you are a maternity patient of the Women’s and you:
- have symptoms of coronavirus
- are waiting on a coronavirus test result
- or someone close to you has recently tested positive for coronavirus
- have returned from an orange or red travel zone.
You can call us on 8345 2000 (Parkville) or 9076 1233 (Sandringham). You will not miss out on the care you need. Whatever your circumstance, we are here to help you.
There's currently no evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk of becoming infected with coronavirus. However, pregnant women should be considered a vulnerable group and take all precautions to reduce the risk of becoming infected.
If you're pregnant, it's essential that you:
- Practise good hygiene – wash your hands and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow
- Keep your distance – stay 1.5 metres away from people where you can
- Wear a face mask when required
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly (for example phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, bench tops)
- Stay home and get tested if you have any symptoms of coronavirus, however mild.
International evidence has shown that some women may be more at risk of becoming unwell if they get coronavirus. Please speak to your doctor or midwife about your specific situation.
The large majority of pregnant women who do get coronavirus will experience only mild or moderate symptoms including fever, cough, loss of smell, headaches and fatigue.
There's no evidence that coronavirus causes miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy.
While there have been some cases overseas where the virus has passed from mother to the baby, the risk of transmission is understood to be low. It’s important to note that research shows that in almost every case, babies with the virus have recovered very well.
There's also no evidence coronavirus can be passed on to your baby in breast milk, so the benefits of breastfeeding and the protection it offers outweigh any risks.
You can see the latest evidence about pregnancy and coronavirus on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website and the UK's Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists website.
The Australian Government has released a decision guide if you are considering COVID-19 vaccination and you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.
The guide does not routinely recommend COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy. You and your health professional can consider it if the potential benefits of vaccination outweigh any potential risks.
You should consider having a COVID-19 vaccine during your pregnancy if:
- you have medical risk factors for severe COVID-19
- you are at high risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 or very likely to be in contact with people with COVID-19.
You may prefer to wait until after your pregnancy to be vaccinated if:
- you have no risk factors for severe COVID-19
- you are not at high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
You can download and read the guide here and discuss at your next appointment with your midwife, obstetrician or General Practitioner.
You will continue to have regular appointments while you're pregnant, but they might be done differently. For example:
- Some of your appointments may be done over the phone or by video call.
- If you need to come in for a face-to-face appointment, you can bring one partner or designated support person with you.
- At face-to-face appointments, you and your partner or designated support person will be screened on entry and provided with a face mask to wear. Your partner or designated support person must pass screening to enter and in some cases, they may be asked to wait elsewhere if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
While these changes have been made to help keep everyone safe, we realise they may be disappointing for some women.
If you begin to feel unwell and have a fever, chills or sweats, a cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss of sense of smell or taste you should get tested for coronavirus.
Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Visit the DHHS website to find a testing location close to home or contact the Victorian Government 24-hour coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance.
If you have any other symptoms, or anything else you're worried about, you should still get medical help as you usually would.
Contact your GP for an appointment or speak to your midwife or maternity team if you have any questions.
It’s very important that pregnant women continue to get the medical care and attention they need. Please do not put off seeking medical attention if anything is bothering you.
When to contact your GP or come into hospital
» Your baby stops moving or you are concerned that your baby is moving much less than normal.
» You have:
» Your waters break or if you have a constant clear watery vaginal discharge.
» You’ve had any trauma such as an assault, a car accident or a serious fall.
In addition to our hospital midwives, having a birth partner to provide personal support is important for your wellbeing during labour.
Under current hospital restrictions, you'll be able to have two (2) birth partners with you throughout labour and birth. As there is no waiting area, they will need to stay in the birthing room, with reasonable exceptions of course.
Your birth partners will need to pass screening. If they do not pass screening unfortunately, they will not be allowed to enter our hospital.
Our midwives and doctors will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) including gowns, masks, gloves and eye protection during your labour.
They will work with you to manage the pain of your labour, with a number of non-medical and medical interventions available.
Keep asking your doctor or midwife any questions throughout your labour and birth. Our staff are there to help and guide you.
While they will be wearing PPE, you won’t be required to wear a mask or any other PPE during your labour. You may be required to wear a mask if you move around the hospital, and your support person/s will be required to wear a mask at all times.
These measures are in place to keep you, your baby and the staff caring for you safe.
After your baby is born and providing it is well, you’ll be able to have skin-to-skin contact in the birth suite. You'll also be encouraged to breastfeed. (See COVID and feeding your baby.)
When you move to the postnatal ward with your baby, you can have two (2) visitors (adults or your children) during visiting hours 2 - 8pm. Your partner or designated support person will be counted as a visitor but they can visit at any time. In total, you can have two (2) people by your bed at any one time. If in doubt, please ask ward staff.
Please be aware, due to space limitations in some areas/rooms, your visitors may be asked by ward staff to step out of your room or in the case of a shared patient room, may be asked to leave. This is to ensure physical distancing can be maintained and to keep other women and babies in our hospital as well as our staff, safe.
For information on our current visitor policy for all maternity wards, please see our visitor policy page.
When you are discharged from hospital, you will still receive support through our postnatal care in the home program. Some of these appointments may be done in person or over the phone.
We know this is a challenging time and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate through this global pandemic. If you have any suggestions or feedback, we welcome it here.