COVID-19 updates for pregnant women, children and parents

As some states in Australia once again face stay-at-home orders and tightened restrictions, it’s understandable to feel concerned and anxious about the potential impact of COVID-19

It is important to read information that is trustworthy, and to access information in order to inform yourself, but not so much that it becomes overwhelming.

Below we answer some commonly asked questions.

What is the potential impact on pregnant women and babies?

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (RANZCOG) has released a statement, of which the following points are worth highlighting:

  • Pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they contract COVID-19. It is expected that most women will experience only mild or moderate cold/ flu like symptoms.
  • There is no evidence that contracting COVID-19 increases your risk of miscarriage during early pregnancy.
  • There have been reports suggesting a small risk that the virus may pass from the mother to the baby. It is rare for this to happen in the womb or whilst giving birth (2 in 100 pregnancies). 
  • Babies that have been infected with COVID-19, have largely remained well and have not needed any additional care.
  • There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 will harm your baby or cause abnormalities during pregnancy.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 can pass to your baby through breastmilk. Therefore, currently the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risk of transmission.

What is the potential impact on young children?

Based on the current evidence regarding the impact of COVID-19 on young children, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection have advised the following:

  • Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. 
  • Children, however, do not appear to be at higher risk from COVID-19 than adults.
  • The symptoms of COVID-19 appear to be the same in children as in adults, such as fever, runny nose, cough, and in some cases diarrhoea and vomiting.

How will COVID-19 affect my maternity and postnatal care?

COVID-19 may affect different aspects of your antenatal, birth and postnatal care. The relevance of these possible changes is likely to be affected by where you live and the current status of Government restrictions that are in place. It’s important to check with your maternity care providers for specific advice.

These may include:

  • Reducing, postponing and/or increasing the interval between antenatal visits
  • Limiting time of all antenatal visits to less than 15 minutes
  • Using telehealth consultations in Australia or New Zealand as a replacement, or in addition to, routine visits
  • Cancelling face to face antenatal classes
  • Limiting visitors (partner only) while in hospital
  • Considering early discharge from hospital
  • Minimise risk of neonatal complications by avoiding early planned birth unless clearly clinically indicated
  • Preadmission COVID-19 testing

Health health professionals attending the birth will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) – namely gowns, masks and face shields. Partners attending the birth will also be required to wear a face mask, however the birthing mother will not. Whilst this may seem somewhat daunting, try to remember that this is simply a measure to protect your personal safety and that of your family.

Postnatal care

Postnatal care in areas currently restricted may also be affected. Here, there may be limitations to home visiting services. Some of your appointments with your general practitioner, obstetrician or maternal and child health nurse may be via tele-health.

Parent’s groups are also likely to be impacted, as there are restrictions to group gatherings. Some jurisdictions may hold online parent-groups. Alternatively, other community support groups such as Mama Tribe currently offer online support via their localised facebook groups.

How can I prevent the spread of coronavirus?

  • Hand washing regularly and frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water 
  • Avoidance of anyone who is coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Social-distancing and reducing general community exposure
  • Early reporting and investigation of symptoms
  • Prompt access to appropriate treatment and supportive measures for infection or concerns about the pregnancy
  • Limit support person to one
  • If your partner has COVID-19, or is symptomatic, they should not accompany you to the hospital

What do I need to know about vaccination?

  • RANZCOG and ATAGI recommend that pregnant women are routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women are encouraged to discuss the decision in relation to timing of vaccination with their health professional.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

Read the joint statement from RANZCOG and ATAGI here:

Useful resources for parents and pregnant women

Some other trusted resources you may find helpful during this time are:

Above all, take care of yourself and just take one day at a time.

The COPE Team