Advice for pregnant women

If you're pregnant, you may be feeling anxious about how coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect you, your baby and your pregnancy care.

On this page you'll find information about:

If you are worried or have any questions, we encourage you to speak to your pregnancy care team.

Please let us know if you are a maternity patient of the Women’s and you:

  • have symptoms of coronavirus
  • are waiting on a coronavirus test result
  • or someone close to you has recently tested positive for coronavirus

You can call us on 8345 2000 (Parkville) or 9076 1233 (Sandringham). You will not miss out on the care you need. Whatever your circumstance, we are here to help you.

Pregnancy and your risk

There's currently no evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk of becoming infected with coronavirus. However, because this is a new virus it’s important to take all precautions.

If you're pregnant, it's essential that you:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • wash your hands regularly
  • stay at least 1.5 metres away from anyone you don’t live with
  • wear a face mask when in public
  • don’t cough or sneeze into your hands
  • take care wherever you go, assume others may be carrying the virus.

International evidence has shown that some women may be more at risk of becoming unwell if they get coronavirus. Please speak to your doctor or midwife about your specific situation.

The large majority of pregnant women who do get coronavirus will experience only mild or moderate symptoms including fever, cough, loss of smell, headaches and fatigue.

There's no evidence that coronavirus causes miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy.

While there have been some cases overseas where the virus has passed from mother to the baby, the risk of transmission is understood to be low. It’s important to note that research shows that in almost every case, babies with the virus have recovered very well.

There's also no evidence coronavirus can be passed on to your baby in breast milk, so the benefits of breastfeeding and the protection it offers outweigh any risks.

You can see the latest evidence about pregnancy and coronavirus on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website and the UK's Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists website.

Appointments and scans

You will continue to have regular appointments while you're pregnant, but they might be done differently. For example:

  • Some of your appointments may be done over the phone or by video call.  
  • If you need to come in for a face-to-face appointment, you must come on your own. Your partner (or other support person) can drop you off and be on speaker phone or video call during your appointment where possible. They cannot wait in the hospital.
  • At face-to-face appointments, you’ll be screened on entry and provided with a face mask to wear.   

While these changes have been made to help keep everyone safe and stop the spread of coronavirus, we realise they may be disappointing for some women.

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus

If you begin to feel unwell and have a fever, chills or sweats, a cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss of sense of smell or taste you should seek advice and get tested for coronavirus.

In certain circumstances headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also be considered.

Contact the Victorian Government 24-hour coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 or call your GP. They will determine if you need to be tested for coronavirus. You can also visit the DHHS website to find a testing location close to home.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

If you have any other symptoms

If you have any other symptoms, or anything else you're worried about, you should still get medical help as you usually would.

Contact your GP for an appointment or speak to your midwife or maternity team if you have any questions.

It’s very important that pregnant women continue to get the medical care and attention they need. Please do not put off seeking medical attention if anything is bothering you.


When to contact your GP or come into hospital

» Your baby stops moving or you are concerned that your baby is moving much less than normal.

» You have:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • fever, chills or a temperature of more than 37.8°C
  • severe nausea and repeated vomiting
  • persistent headaches that won’t go away
  • blurred vision, or spots before your eyes
  • sharp pains in the abdomen (with or without bleeding)
  • pain or burning when you pass urine
  • irregular contractions at any time
  • sudden swelling of your face, hands, ankles or fingers
  • persistent itchy skin
  • exposure to rubella (German measles) or chickenpox.

» Your waters break or if you have a constant clear watery vaginal discharge.

» You’ve had any trauma such as an assault, a car accident or a serious fall.

Labour and birth

In addition to our hospital midwives, having a birth partner to provide personal support is important for your wellbeing during labour.

Under current coronavirus restrictions, you'll be able to have 1 birth partner with you throughout labour and birth. As there is no waiting area for birth partners, they will be asked to stay in the birthing room, with reasonable exceptions. 

Your birth partner will need to pass screening. If your birth partner does not pass screening unfortunately, they will not be allowed to enter our hospital. We encourage you to plan ahead for an alternative birth partner if this occurs.

Our midwives and doctors will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) including gowns, masks, gloves and eye protection during your labour.

They will work with you to manage the pain of your labour, with a number of non-medical and medical interventions available. 

Keep asking your doctor or midwife any questions throughout your labour and birth. Our staff are there to help and guide you.

While they will be wearing PPE, you won’t be required to wear a mask or any other PPE during your labour. You may be required to wear a mask if you move around the hospital, and your birth partner will be required to wear a mask at all times during their visit to the hospital.

These measures are in place to keep you, your baby and the staff caring for you safe.

After the birth

After your baby is born and providing it is well, you’ll be able to have skin-to-skin contact in the birth suite. You'll also be encouraged to breastfeed.

When you move to the postnatal ward with your baby, your birth partner can transfer with you and stay with you for the remainder of that day.

Please be aware, due to space limitations in some areas/rooms, your birth partner may be asked by ward staff to step out of your room or in the case of a shared patient room, may be asked to leave. This is to ensure physical distancing can be maintained and to keep other women and babies in our hospital as well as our staff, safe.  

When your birth partner comes for a subsequent visit, they can stay for up to 2 hours per day on the ward.  Again, there may be times when your birth partner may be asked by ward staff to step out of your room or in some cases, they may be asked to leave.

Other than your birth partner, no other visitors are allowed on the postnatal ward.

When you are discharged from hospital, you will still receive support through our postnatal care in the home program. Some of these appointments may be done in person or over the phone.

We know this is a challenging time and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we work to ensure your health and safety. If you have any suggestions or feedback, we welcome it here.

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