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Pregnant women, newborns and COVID-19

If you are pregnant, planning a family or looking after a newborn, there are steps you can take to lower the risk of catching COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.

Medical professionals are currently studying and learning how COVID-19 affects people. As there is little information about COVID-19 infection in pregnant women, contact your GP, maternity doctor or midwife for current guidance and advice.

Hygiene

If you are pregnant or have a newborn, it is important to

Flu vaccination

Pregnant women are known to be at high risk of developing other respiratory illnesses, like influenza (flu). 

If you are pregnant or caring for a newborn, it is more important than ever to get a seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine. While a flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, it will reduce your chances of getting the flu.

Everyone in your household and other people that will have regular close contact with you and your baby should have a flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is provided free for:

  • all pregnant women
  • all children 6 months to less than 5 years
  • all Aboriginal people aged 6 months and over
  • people aged 65 years and over.

Flu vaccine provides protection for your baby, in the womb and during the early months of life.

The flu shot will also protect your baby from flu after birth. Babies less than 6 months old are too young to get a flu vaccine and these antibodies will help protect your baby from flu in the first few months after birth.

Flu shots are safe for mother and baby, and can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

Feeding your baby

Mothers who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can breastfeed their baby. The benefits of feeding your baby breastmilk outweigh any potential risk of transmission of coronavirus through the breastmilk.

A mother should use special hygiene precautions when feeding the baby, expressing breastmilk or undertaking care where she is closer than 1.5 metres from the baby.  
If you are formula feeding you can continue to do so.

Whether you are breastfeeding, expressing breastmilk or using formula, you need to follow strict hygiene rules by:

  • washing hands frequently with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub, especially before touching the baby, after removing a mask and after sneezing or coughing.
  • wearing a mask when you are less than 1.5 metres from your baby 
  • sneezing or coughing into a tissue, immediately disposing of it after use
  • follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and disinfecting instructions for both breastfeeding equipment (i.e. breast pump) and infant formula preparation and feeding equipment
  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

Go to Australian Breastfeeding Association and Raising Children for more information on feeding and expressing breastmilk

If you are working

Consult with your employer and health and safety representative about your attendance at work. If you are working from home read the SafeWork NSW guidance on working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 and birth

 

Michelle Underwood, Clinical Midwifery Consultant, NSW Health explains how COVID-19 may affect birth arrangements.

If you're about to have a baby, you my be wondering how COVID-19 could affect the birth. Would all the different types of pain relief be available when you go into labour? The simple answer is 'yes'. You will still have the same range of pain relief options already available in your chosen place of birth.

If you did have COVID-19 with acute symptoms like cough or shortness of breath, you might be offered an epidural earlier in labour to make breathing easier and more comfortable. If you have any other questions about this or any other aspect of your pregnancy, please talk to your midwife or doctor.

Last updated: 16 September 2020

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