COVID-19 and pregnancy

COVID-19 is a risk to your health and the health of your baby. But most pregnant women who get the virus get mild to moderate symptoms. 

You can give birth as planned and the risk of passing on COVID-19 to your baby is low.

Pregnant women are more likely to get very unwell and need treatment in intensive care than women who are not pregnant.

The virus may also cause complications for your baby, including premature labour or stillbirth. 

If you are planning to get pregnant or trying for a baby, we recommend you get vaccinated against COVID-19. This will not affect your fertility.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines and trying for a baby

Immediate action required: Contact your maternity hospital immediately if you:

  • have COVID-19
  • are worried that your baby is not moving as much as usual
  • have concerns about your baby's wellbeing

The hospital will carry out tests to confirm that your baby is OK.

Protecting yourself and your baby

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect you and your baby from COVID-19.

Being vaccinated will reduce the chance of you becoming very unwell from COVID-19 and reduce the chance of complications for your baby.

COVID-19 vaccines may actually help to protect your baby after birth as you may pass on antibodies from the vaccine to your baby.

Get vaccinated against COVID-19 if you're:

  • pregnant
  • trying for a baby or might get pregnant in the future
  • breastfeeding

Read advice on getting vaccinated if you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding

Urgent advice: Phone your GP if:

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).

Urgent advice: Phone your GP or midwife urgently if:

  • you have a fever (high temperature - 38 degrees Celsius or above) and you are pregnant

Appointments and scans

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 may need to go to routine examinations and blood tests on your own. But your nominated support partner should be able to go with you to other scans and appointments. Check with the hospital in advance. If they cannot accommodate your nominated support partner, they will let you know why.

Labour and birth

Your nominated support partner can be at the birth. But they may not be allowed to be with you during the start of labour, when you are first admitted to hospital. This is to reduce the number of people in an area.

You may be on a ward with a number of other women. Once you are moved to the labour ward, your nominated support partner will be able to join you for the final stages of labour and the birth.

Your nominated support partner can be at the birth

Your nominated support partner can be at the birth, including most caesarean sections. But if your doctor or midwife thinks it is not appropriate, they will let you know. Examples of where it might not be appropriate would be if you are under general anaesthetic (where you’re asleep) while having a Caesarean section.

This is as long as your nominated support partner:

  • does not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • is not suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19

If you have COVID-19

Your healthcare team will take extra care if you have COVID-19. They will talk to you about the safest way and time for your baby to be born.

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.

You will not have to wear a face mask 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

Hospital visiting restrictions do not apply to your nominated support partner.

Your nominated support partner should be allowed a daily visit of at least 30 minutes while you are in hospital. But this will depend on the hospital and if it is safe to do so.

If your hospital cannot facilitate your nominated support partner or visitors due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, they will let you know why.

Read more about hospital visiting restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak

Neonatal care visits

You and your nominated support partner should be able to visit your baby if they are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

This is as long as you or your partner:

  • do not have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are not suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19

Early transfer home

Many women are choosing to go home early because of hospital visitor restrictions. 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.

After the birth, if you have COVID-19

Your doctor or midwife will advise you on what to do after your baby is born if you have COVID-19.

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 done 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 be isolated in a single room with an en-suite.

Your baby will be in an 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.

Your healthcare team will observe your baby 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.

Mental health

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

Read more about:

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 28 February 2022