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COVID-19 advice for pregnant women and newborns

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, including getting vaccinated if you aren’t already.

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Increased risks of COVID-19

Pregnant women have a higher risk of complications, including severe illness, if they catch COVID-19. Their baby may also have a higher risk of being born prematurely.

Vaccinations against COVID-19

Australian and international health experts advise women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a baby to get vaccinated. Not only does getting vaccinated help protect you from COVID-19, it also helps protect your baby from complications that might arise if you become sick.

Real-world evidence shows the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is not available, the AstraZeneca vaccine can be given to women who are breastfeeding or planning pregnancy if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks for the individual.

Women who are pregnant are a priority for COVID-19 vaccination and can receive a vaccine at any stage of pregnancy.

Women who are breastfeeding do not need to stop breastfeeding after vaccination.

Women who are planning pregnancy do not need to avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

The Department of Health’s shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy includes detailed information about COVID-19 vaccinations. 

None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved, or under review by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) cause sterilisation or infertility – see Get the facts on COVID-19 vaccines for more.
 

Staying safe

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

  • practice good personal and household hygiene – including washing your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water and cleaning high-touch surfaces at home
  • maintain physical distance from other people and follow recommended stay-at-home instructions and any other restrictions in your local area
  • avoid public transport (work from home if you can) and public spaces
  • avoid people who are sick, especially if they are coughing and sneezing
  • avoid touching your own eyes, nose and mouth
  • get tested if you feel unwell or have even the slightest symptoms.

COVID-19 and birth 

Generally, your experience of giving birth should not be affected by COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictions. Some service delivery may change and you may not be able to have visitors to your home or the hospital.  

The Raising Children website has further information on COVID-19 and 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.

Medical guidance and advice

Contact your GP, maternity doctor or midwife for current guidance and advice.
 

 

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