COVID-19 & Pregnancy

COVID-19 & Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, it's natural you may be feeling increased anxiety and distress while there is COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand. Find out what you can do to help keep you and your baby safe and what to expect from your maternity carer.  

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Key points to remember about COVID-19 and pregnancy

  • recent evidence shows that pregnancy may increase the risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19, which can lead to complications with pregnancy
  • the evidence also shows that COVID-19 immunisation during pregnancy is very effective at preventing severe symptoms
  • it is rare for pregnant women to end up in hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms if they've had both COVID-19 vaccine doses
  • immunisation safely and effectively protects pregnant women against COVID-19 and significantly reduces the risk of serious illness or harm to them

Book your COVID-19 immunisation now

If you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, it is important to have the COVID-19 vaccine.

Recent evidence shows that pregnancy may increase the risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19, which can lead to complications with pregnancy. Studies have shown having the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy is safe and significantly reduces the risk of serious illness or harm to pregnant women.

If you're pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy. You can book your immunisation now.

If you haven't made your appointment yet, you can book online at Book My Vaccine.

Book your vaccine online

You can also:

  • ask your GP clinic if they are providing the COVID vaccine yet
  • book by phone - call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week)

Data from the large number of pregnant people worldwide who have already had their COVID-19 immunisation shows that there are no extra safety concerns with giving COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy.

Immunising during pregnancy may also help protect your baby. There is evidence that infants can get antibodies to the virus through cord blood and breastmilk.

If you have any questions or concerns, talk about them with your healthcare professional.

Check the information about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy

Remember to have other important vaccines during pregnancy

As well as having the COVID-19 vaccine, remember to also have the flu vaccine and whooping cough vaccine. You can have the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at any stage of pregnancy, and whooping cough vaccine from 16 weeks of pregnancy. You can have them at the same time or separately.

How can I reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 if I'm pregnant?

As well as immunisation against COVID-19, there are other ways to protect yourself.

Find out how to protect yourself and others against COVID-19

You may want to talk to your midwife or GP around your risk of getting COVID-19. If there is an increased risk of community transmission in the area where you live, take extra steps to keep yourself safe.

If you're working, talk and agree with your employer a plan to make sure you can do your job safely. If you can't safely work at your workplace, and can't work from home, agree your leave and pay arrangements with your employer. It's important to agree about leave arrangements so you can still get Paid Parental Leave.

You can find some information about the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme on the Work and Income website.

Find out about the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

You can find out about Paid Parental Leave from the Employment New Zealand website.

Find out about Paid Parental Leave

If I'm pregnant and have COVID-19, can I pass it on to my baby during pregnancy or birth?

The evidence so far shows that it is rare for pregnant women to pass on COVID-19 to their babies during pregnancy or birth (called 'vertical transmission').

If I'm pregnant and have COVID-19, how might it affect my baby?

For pregnant women with COVID-19, the evidence so far indicates:

  • there is no increased risk of miscarriage
  • there is an increased risk of some complications in newborn babies

Complications for newborn babies can include:

  • a slightly increased risk of being born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • an increased risk of needing to spend time in a hospital newborn care unit, or showing distress during delivery
  • an increased risk of stillbirth

COVID-19 immunisation during pregnancy reduces these risks by reducing the chance of infection in the baby's mother, and reducing the severity of infection if the mother does get COVID-19.

You can see more information about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy at the NZ College of Midwives website.

See the NZ College of Midwives website

Watch this video to find out more about what to expect if you're pregnant and have COVID-19 

Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect my pregnancy care?

Primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities will remain open to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are due to give birth, check with your midwife about the service level available and the visiting policy at your local maternity facility. Your midwife, or midwifery practice, will adjust the way they work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Your health and wellbeing is very important and clinical support will remain available to you.

Before any visit with your midwife, you need to confirm that you are well. If you are unwell, a household contact of a COVID-19 case, or you have COVID-19, your midwife or midwifery service will arrange a way to provide you with services.

If there is a risk of COVID-19, your midwife may postpone your visit. Or, the visit may happen by phone or video call. If the visit is urgent it will still take place, but your midwife will ask you and others with you to wear a medical face mask. Your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife will also wear personal protective equipment.

It is important to tell your midwife if you have any symptoms, or COVID-19 contacts. She can make sure she takes measures to prevent possible transmission, and to support you with your health. You will still receive the care you need.

See the Ministry of Health website for information on maternity care while you are pregnant and following the birth of your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic

What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19?

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follow their advice while waiting for your test result. Contact Healthline first but also let your midwife (or GP or obstetrician) know if you are unwell.

What if I am pregnant and a household contact of someone with COVID?

If you are a household contact of someone who is COVID positive, you need to self-isolate. You must tell your midwife or midwifery practice.

If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant

If you are a household contact and are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your midwife (or GP or obstetrician) may reschedule regular antenatal visits until the end of your isolation period. Rescheduling of visits will only happen if your midwife assesses that your maternity care can safely be deferred. If you do need a visit from your midwife, you will need to wear a medical face mask - your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife will also wear personal protective equipment.

If you are more than 37 weeks pregnant

You will have visits as usual. You will wear a medical face mask while your midwife visits you. Your midwife will give you the mask. Your midwife will also wear personal protective equipment.

What should I do if I'm pregnant and have a COVID-19 diagnosis?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you will receive the support you need through the care in the community programme. Your health and wellbeing is very important and clinical support will remain available to you.

Check the Ministry of Health website for advice for people with COVID-19

Read about COVID-19 and breastfeeding

Find out more about caring for a newborn when you have COVID-19

Resources for taking care of your mental health

It is important to take care of yourself and that means taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health.

Check some resources that may be helpful.

Check mental health and wellbeing resources at the Ministry of Health website

See the mental health and wellbeing resources and COVID-19 support at Depression.org.nz.

Should my baby have their first immunisation at 6 weeks?

Yes. Immunisation on time is important for your baby. Delaying the first immunisation puts your baby at unnecessary risk of infections such as whooping cough and measles.

Find out about immunising children during COVID-19

Image of mother and child with text: Keep up with your child's free immunisations during all COVID-19 alert levels

Make sure your baby has their immunisations at:

  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 5 months
  • 15 months

GPs will have arrangements in place so that babies and children can have their immunisations safely during COVID-19. If some GP practices can't provide immunisations during COVID-19, they will refer families to another provider who can. You can call your GP ahead of visiting to find out about the arrangements they have in place.

The content on this page is supported by The New Zealand College of Midwives.

NZ College of Midwives logo

This page last reviewed 24 March 2022.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it