Last updated: 22 October at 12.01am
We are still learning about COVID-19 (coronavirus). We don't fully know how it affects pregnant women and their babies.
The information we have so far shows that pregnant women or their babies are not at a higher risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19.
This does not mean that pregnant women are protected against COVID-19.
To protect yourself and your baby, you should carefully follow the advice around:
Phone your GP for advice if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
High temperature during pregnancy
One of the symptoms of COVID-19 is fever (high temperature). This can increase the risk of complications during the first trimester (week 0 to 13).
If you have a high temperature and you are pregnant, phone your GP or midwife.
Protect yourself during pregnancy
When you are pregnant, your body naturally changes your immune system. This is to help your pregnancy continue successfully. It means that when you are pregnant you may pick up some infections more easily.
All pregnant women should get the:
This will protect you and your baby from whooping cough and the flu, not from COVID-19.
The team caring for you should involve you in all decisions.
Appointments and scans
Hospitals are continuing to give antenatal care.
Many appointments are happening by phone followed up by a shorter visit at the hospital. You’ll need to go to hospital for examinations, blood tests and ultrasound scans.
You should go to these visits or scans on your own to reduce the number of people in the hospital.
If your care is shared with your GP, this should continue.
Maternity hospitals have helplines open for advice at any time.
If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, phone your hospital for advice. You should still go to hospital if you have any concern about your baby’s movements.
Before the birth, if you have COVID-19
If you have COVID-19, your healthcare team will take extra precautions. This will be before, during and after your baby's birth. Your obstetrician or midwife will talk to you about the safest way and time for your baby to be born.
Other expert doctors may also be involved in your care. These might include a doctor who specialises in infectious diseases and a neonatologist. This is a doctor who specialises in the care of newborn babies.
You may be in an isolation room with en-suite facilities during labour. You may need to stay in this room throughout your hospital stay.
During birth and labour
In most cases, your partner can be there for the delivery. Every effort will be made to ensure your partner is present at the birth. But in some hospitals, this may not be possible. Any restrictions in place are to keep everyone safe.
If your partner can be there, they will need to wear protective equipment. This is to minimise the risk of infection.
You will not have to wear a facemask during labour and birth. But you will need to wear a surgical mask when you’re outside your room.
After the birth
Visitors in hospital
All maternity units have a strict no visitor policy.
All restrictions that are in place are for the safety of you and your baby. They will be lifted as soon as possible.
Early transfer home
Some hospitals are offering phone support from postnatal midwives. Where it is available, community midwives are doing home visits.
Heel prick screening is carrying on as normal.
Neonatal care in NICU
In most neonatal intensive care units (NICU), visiting for mothers has been limited to 15 minutes per day. This is to protect babies who are most vulnerable from infection. These restrictions will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.
Many units have technology in place to help parents have contact with their baby.
After the birth, if you have COVID-19
If you have COVID-19, your doctor or midwife will discuss your options for after your baby is born.
One option may be to arrange for someone else to care for your baby while you wait for COVID-19 to pass. This is to protect your baby from catching the virus.
A family member or healthcare worker can provide this care. This could be provided at home or in the hospital. How long this lasts for will vary. The advice will depend on your symptoms and the results of any tests you have had.
Caring for your baby, if you have COVID-19
If you choose to care for your baby after the birth, your doctor or midwife will explain the risk.
You and your baby will then be isolated in a single room with an en-suite bathroom. Your baby will be in an enclosed incubator in your room. An incubator is a special crib made of plastic, it keeps your baby warm. You will be able to see your baby in the incubator.
When your baby is outside the incubator for breastfeeding, bathing or caring you will need to:
- wear a long-sleeved gown and surgical mask
- clean your hands properly and often with soap and water or alcohol rub - before and after interacting with your baby
Your baby should be observed for signs of infection. This will be for at least 14 days after the last contact with you. If your baby develops any signs of infection, they will need to be tested.
Perinatal mental health services are for any woman with mental health problems who:
- is planning a pregnancy
- is pregnant
- has a baby up to one year old