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Should I have the COVID-19 vaccination if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy?

COVID-19 vaccination is not routinely recommended in pregnancy, but individual risk factors may influence decision making. The COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended for example for women with certain health conditions. The Australian Government has developed a tool, the COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy to assist you to decide if COVID-19 vaccination is right for you. If you have concerns, you should discuss these with your GP or maternity care provider.

I’m pregnant, how will COVID-19 infection affect me?

We are still learning how the COVID-19 virus may affect you and your baby. Our current understanding is based on women who get the virus late in their pregnancy. We are continuing to monitor information as it becomes available to help us understand how women who  have had an infection in early pregnancy are affected. We expect that most pregnant women who get the virus will experience cold and flu like symptoms.

We recommend that:

  • you ask your maternity care provider for your free pregnancy flu vaccination at your next visit
  • you tell your maternity care provider if you are a smoker or have a heart or lung condition such as asthma, as you may become more unwell if you are diagnosed with COVID-19
  • if you have any concerns about yourself or your baby, please seek medical advice by calling your GP, maternity care provider, Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24-hour helpline) or attend your nearest Emergency Department.

It is important to protect yourself and your baby. The NSW Government website has information on how to protect yourself and others.

NSW Health has developed useful videos for mothers and families about:

  • attending antenatal appointments
  • COVID-19 infection in pregnancy
  • extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic for you and your baby.

How will COVID-19 infection affect my baby?

There is a lot more we need to understand about COVID-19, but to date there is no evidence of harm to babies born to women who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in pregnancy.

In other countries some babies born to women with COVID-19 have been born early (prematurely). In most cases doctors advised that the baby should be born early because the mother was unwell.

Viral infections can cause a high fever. If you have a high fever at any stage of your pregnancy call your GP or maternity care provider as soon as possible. You can call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24-hour helpline). It is safe to use paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) in pregnancy at the recommended dose to help to control your fever.

Is it safe to come to hospital for antenatal visits or to give birth?

Hospitals are taking extra precautions to minimise the risk of infection to patients, visitors and staff. You and your partner/support person and/or visitor will be screened before entering the hospital.

It is safe and important to stay connected with all the maternity care providers involved in your pregnancy and birth care and to contact them if you are worried about anything. It is also really important that you have all the usual tests, immunisations and check-ups you need during pregnancy.

Our high-quality maternity and newborn services continue to be provided, including routine antenatal investigations, ultrasounds, maternal and fetal assessments and birth care. 

To keep you, your baby and the staff looking after you safe, hospitals may have changed the way care is provided including:

  • providing care in the community rather than in hospital
  • offering care by video or phone
  • limiting the number of support people and visitors coming into the hospital (to reduce the chance of spreading the infection)
  • promoting hand hygiene, physical distancing and other infection prevention and control procedures.

Travel across state borders for medical visits may not be permitted. Contact your maternity care provider prior to your appointments to be sure. If alternative arrangements are needed your maternity care provider will help you make these decisions.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, tell the maternity service before you go to the hospital. This is important to help us plan your care.  We are fully equipped to care for pregnant women with COVID-19.

NSW Health has developed a video for families about the safety of hospitals during COVID-19.

Can my partner/support person attend antenatal visits?

The decision to have a partner/support person present in the waiting room and during antenatal appointments should be decided by each facility. Partner/support persons will need to follow the COVID-19 safety rules set out by the clinic, such as respiratory and hand hygiene, and social distancing.

A partner/support person who has confirmed, probable or suspected COVID-19 should not attend the antenatal appointment.

Can I come to antenatal appointments if I am in self-isolation?

Call and speak to your maternity care provider or hospital.

  • Tell them that you are in self-isolation for suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  • Ask what you should do about attending your appointments. They will help you decide if you need to be seen in person or via telehealth.

What if I feel unwell or am worried about myself or the baby during self- isolation?

If you begin to feel unwell (have a fever or shortness of breath, cough or a respiratory illness) or are concerned about your baby (such as a change in fetal movements) while in self-isolation seek immediate medical attention, even if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Call ahead to your GP or emergency department or maternity care provider and tell them you are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 before you arrive.

What if I go into labour during self-isolation?

If you go into labour, call the hospital, or your maternity care provider. Tell them that you are in self-isolation due to COVID-19. They will tell you what to do in this situation, and where and when to come to hospital. Our hospitals take great care to limit the spread of infection.

What will happen if I have COVID-19 when I am in labour or giving birth?

Your experience of labour and birth should not be very different due to COVID-19.

If you have symptoms but have not been tested, we will offer you the test when you arrive at the hospital. You will be looked after in a single room. Maternity care providers looking after you will wear protective equipment (such as a face mask, gloves and apron/gown). You will be taught about the precautions you and your partner/support person will need to take.

If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection:

  • you may be asked to use special precautions during and after birth
  • you will still be able to move in labour and birth to the position of your choice, but will not be able to have a water birth to ensure staff safety
  • you will have access to a range of pain relief options such as an early epidural
  • your baby’s heart rate will be continuously monitored in labour.

How many support people am I allowed to have with me during labour

While there continues to be transmission of COVID-19 in the community,  it remains important that we keep our hospitals safe now and into the future.


The number of support persons in the birthing room should be decided by each facility. This decision will depend on individual circumstances, the size of the birthing room and transmission of COVID-19 in the local community. Compassionate and cultural considerations will be taken into account by your hospital to help best support you at this important time. These considerations are best discussed with your doctor or midwife before you go into labour, so that there is a clear plan in place.

If your partner/support person is asymptomatic but in self isolation and wishes to attend your birth, they can request an exemption from the Minister of Health. Contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 to discuss the situation with the COVID-19 hotline.

Your partner/support person must be asymptomatic. If your partner/support person has confirmed, probable or suspected COVID-19, they should not bring you to hospital or attend your labour and birth.

Can I have visitors in the hospital?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most healthcare facilities have put in place ways to enable regular visiting for patients and families.
The number of people who can visit patients in the hospital is decided by each facility. This decision is based on the local situation such as available space in each ward to allow physical distancing and transmission of COVID-19 in the local community.
After giving birth, visits by immediate family (partner or carer and the newborn’s siblings) should not be restricted provided they meet the requirements for COVID-19 screening on entry to the facility. Limits to the number of visitors at any given time may apply as per normal visiting conditions.
Visitors may have additional screening, education and supervision about using correct personal protective equipment and other infection prevention practices such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.

How can I protect my baby?

The NSW Government website has information on how to protect yourself and others

During flu season everyone in the family should have the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccination when it becomes available. Babies can have the seasonal influenza vaccine from 6 months of age - the vaccine is free for all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age.

Make sure vaccinations are up to date. Routine vaccination is the safest, most effective way to protect babies and children from illness.

What happens after my baby is born and I have COVID-19?

After birth if you are unwell you may be moved to a specialised area within the hospital which is caring for patients with COVID-19 infection. If you and your baby are well the baby can stay with you in a single room on the postnatal ward. You will both remain in isolation for a minimum of 14 days after the birth, either in the hospital or at home.

Skin-to-skin contact at birth and breastfeeding will continue to be encouraged, but mothers and their partner/support person who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will need to protect their baby during any close contact by wearing a face mask, and washing hands regularly while you or your partner remain infectious.

If you are confirmed to have COVID-19 your baby will be considered a ‘close contact’ after birth and will need to be isolated from other people for 14 days from the last day you are considered infectious, which may be for longer than 14 days after birth. This may be either at home or in the hospital depending on your condition and that of your baby’s. You will be able to go home as soon as you and your baby are well enough, and self-isolate at home until you are no longer infectious, and the baby is no longer isolated from other people. During this time the health of you and your baby will need close monitoring. Plans for care after discharge will be discussed with you before you leave hospital.

What happens if my baby is admitted to the nursery and I have COVID-19?

If your baby is born early or is unwell, or if you yourself are too unwell to look after your baby, he or she will be looked after in a special isolation area. This might be in the hospital nursery, or if your baby is well, in a single room with a chosen asymptomatic member of your family who can look after the baby for you. These plans will be discussed with you and your partner before the birth wherever possible.

Visiting the hospital nursery is restricted and you will not be able to visit your baby in the nursery while you are infectious. If you are separated from your baby, we will support you to express breast milk for your baby and explore ways for you to see your baby such as photos or video.

If I have suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 what is the best way to feed my baby?

 Also clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces. Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions.

Breastfeeding your baby is safe. NSW Health has developed guidance for you to refer to. This includes infant feeding, breastfeeding, expressing breast milk and formula feeding.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in babies?

If you have COVID-19, you will need to be aware of possible signs and symptoms in your baby. COVID-19 symptoms in babies are usually mild and may include:

  • fever
  • difficulty breathing/wheezing
  • poor feeding
  • irritability or lethargy

Will my baby be tested for COVID-19?

Routine testing of well babies of mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 is not recommended.

Testing is recommended if babies become unwell during the isolation period, whether this is in the hospital setting or at home.

Will my baby be able to have the usual screening tests and vaccinations after birth?

Yes, it is important that all babies receive the usual tests and vaccinations which will protect your baby against several illnesses and ensure any health problems are managed as soon as possible. There may be some changes to the way these are provided though, dependent on your own health and situation. Your midwife and child and family health nurse will talk with you about when and where your baby will receive the first hearing check, newborn bloodspot test, physical examination and vaccinations.

If I have COVID-19, what can I do to prevent my baby becoming infected?

To prevent transmission to your baby:

  • wear a face mask when you are feeding or caring for your baby until you are no longer infectious
  • cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or a flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing
  • wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub before touching your baby
  • have your baby at least 1.5 metres away from you when you are not caring for him or her
  • regularly clean and disinfect surfaces you have touched
  • have a healthy adult assist you to care for your baby where possible.

The NSW Government website has information on how to protect yourself and others.

If the baby and I are well, can visitors meet my new baby at home?

Protecting newborns from infection has always been an important consideration as their immune systems are developing.Ways to protect your baby:

  • Keep your baby away from others, outside your family unit, as much as possible.
  • Keep yourself and your baby at least 1.5 metres away from people outside your family unit.
  • Keep your baby away from anyone who is unwell.
  • All caregivers should wash their hands before and after touching the baby.

If you have any concerns about your baby, please seek medical advice by calling your GP, maternity care provider, Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24-hour helpline) or attend your nearest Emergency Department.

Document information

Developed by

Health and Social Policy Branch (HSPB)

Consultation

Community of Practice Maternity Working Group

Endorsed by

Dr Nigel Lyons, Deputy Secretary, Health System Strategy and Planning

Reviewed by

Chair, Community of Practice Maternity Working Group

For use by

Maternity and neonatal services, pregnant women, new mothers and their families.​

Current as at: Thursday 25 February 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW