Advice for pregnant women

The Royal Women’s Hospital is closely monitoring developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is taking all advised precautions.

Published scientific data regarding the effects of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is currently limited, but the Women's continues to look to authorities for the latest developments on this. On this page, you can see a summary of the what the latest evidence tells us. 

The health of our patients, visitors and staff is our biggest priority. We have put in place a number of measures to keep our community safe while providing the highest level of care. You can read about these on our COVID Information Hub.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) has issued information for pregnant women (updated 29 April) – read in full here. Main points include:

  • Pregnant women should be considered a vulnerable or at-risk group, however, information and advice to the general public applies equally to pregnant women.

  • At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population.

  • For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19.

  • There have been a handful of recent reports suggesting that the virus may pass from the mother to the baby (vertical transmission). However, this is very early, preliminary data and has not been confirmed. There was no evidence of harm to the babies. 

  • There is no evidence that caesarean section or induction of labour is necessary to reduce the risk of vertical transmission. 

  • Some babies born to women with symptoms of COVID-19 have been born prematurely.  It is unclear whether coronavirus caused these premature births, or whether it was recommended that the baby was born early for the benefit of the mother’s health and to enable her to recover.

  •  At the moment there is no evidence that the virus is carried in breastmilk and, therefore, the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19 through breastmilk.

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists from the UK has also issued information for pregnant women (updated 22 May) – read in full here. Additional main points include:

  • In all reported cases of newborn babies developing coronavirus very soon after birth, the baby was well.

  • Given current evidence, it is considered unlikely that if you have the virus it would cause problems with your baby’s development, and none have been observed currently.

The following statement is from Professor Mark Umstad, Director of Maternity Services at the Women’s.

"The Women's is a safe place to be for women giving birth. And while there are extra precautions in place, such as screening upon entry, you will receive the care you need when you come to our hospital," said Professor Mark Umstad.

“Doctors, nurses, midwives and hospitals across Victoria are working together to ensure the safest possible outcomes for pregnant women and their babies during this understandably stressful period for them.”

Reducing your risk

  • Observe government rules around restricted activities, gatherings, travel etc. You can keep up-to-date with current restrictions and advice on the DHHS website.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the toilet. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Do not share drink bottles, crockery or cutlery.
  • Ensure a distance of at least 1.5 metres is kept between yourself and others.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly e.g. phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches, bench tops.

Please visit the Department of Health and Human Services website for regular updates.

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