COVID-19: Pregnant people and those who have recently given birth

Information on maternity care while you are pregnant and following the birth of your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last updated: 11 July 2022

COVID-19: The Ministry of Health, Health New Zealand and the maternity sector are working together to minimise the impact of any potential temporary disruptions to maternity services.

Hospitals will remain open at all stages of the pandemic. Pregnant women/people will still be able to access maternity care. However, some temporary disruptions to maternity care services are possible if cases of COVID-19 increase in our communities.

Please access information from your maternity service provider as to any current service disruptions in your area.

On this page:

See also:


Your care during pregnancy

If you are pregnant or caring for a newborn baby while New Zealand is managing its response to COVID-19, you may be a bit stressed or anxious.

If you’ve fully vaccinated with a booster, and you get COVID-19, you’re more likely to have a mild or moderate symptoms. If you’re pregnant (hapū), the vaccination and booster will keep baby (pēpi) safe too. 

Maternity care will always be available to all those who need it – services and facilities will remain open during all stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Follow this guidance to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and you could take extra precautions if you are at higher risk.

Protection with COVID-19 vaccination

If you’re pregnant, you can get a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) at any stage of your pregnancy.

The vaccine protects you as you’re far less likely to fall seriously ill. It also protects your pēpi as there is evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

View this video about pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccination:

Being vaccinated also means you’re less likely to transmit the virus to others. It helps protect tamariki in your family who are too young to be vaccinated, and older whanāu members (such as grandparents) you’re spending time with.

Get advice on the COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying for a baby: Pregnancy and breastfeeding – vaccine advice.

Boosters

It is recommended that pregnant people receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine to help protect them and their baby against the effects of COVID-19. The booster vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.

If you are 18 or over, you can get your Pfizer booster at least 3 months after your primary course (for most people, this is 2 doses). If you are 16 or 17, you can get a Pfizer booster at least 6 months after completing your primary course.

You can also discuss the timing of your booster with your midwife, obstetrician or doctor.

If a second booster is recommended for you, this is due at least 6 months after your previous dose.

Your pregnancy care with COVID-19

If you have COVID-19, your pregnancy care from your midwife will be via telehealth.  View this video about pregnancy if you have COVID-19.

Being hapū and having to isolate at home will be hard enough for some. But having COVID as well could feel overwhelming. Yeah, it’s a bit scary knowing I have the virus, but I’m fully vaccinated so I know my risk for getting really sick is lower. That’s right, being fully vaccinated with a booster is the best way to stay safe. When you’re told you have COVID, you’ll be assessed by a specialist team to work out your personal care plan. Then, depending on any risk factors you may have and how well you’re managing any symptoms, your midwife or other lead maternity carer, LMC for short, may be able to continue taking care of you. If any extra care is needed it’ll be organised between you, your midwife and the obstetrics team. That’s great. Is there anything I should look out for? Yep, things to look out for are: • baby moving less than usual or not at all, any change in baby’s usual pattern • bleeding from the vagina • leaking fluid from the vagina • headache that doesn't go away • shortness of breath when resting or lying down • feeling like you can't cope with your symptoms at home • a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees • feeling really tired • feeling very anxious or worried • feeling unsafe at any time. If you have any of these things, you should get in touch with your midwife straight away. Awesome. Anything else I should know? If you need any pain relief for anything, ask me or your GP about what’s best to take. And stay in touch with me so you can continue to be assessed and referred if needed. Tara, what happens if someone goes into labour while they are isolating? They should call their midwife - we know what to do. How about if I’ve still got COVID when I give birth. Is the baby going to be ok? It’s rare for babies to get COVID during the pregnancy or birth process. However, those who do get it mostly have mild symptoms or none at all. You can breastfeed, cuddle and share a room and the antibodies from your vaccination will help protect them too. But please remember to: • wash your hands well before touching your baby, breast pump or feeding bottles • clean and sterilise bottles and breast pump thoroughly • wear a mask while feeding and holding your baby • try not to sneeze or cough on your baby • don't kiss or touch your baby's face, or touch your own face. I can do this! I feel relieved that if I have any questions or concerns, (cut to list below) I can just ask my midwife or GP and they’ll know what to do. Top tips: 1. Tell your midwife/LMC you have COVID and are isolating. 2. Know the warning signs and let your midwife/LMC know if you have any of them. 3. Avoid lying on your tummy if you are more than 28 weeks pregnant. 4. Check with your midwife/LMC before taking pain medicines. 5. Learn how to look after baby while you have COVID. 6. Stay in touch with your midwife/LMC.

Maternity services in the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

The COVID-19 Protection Framework or ‘traffic lights’ is used to describe the level of risk and the restrictions that must be followed at each colour. Stay informed about New Zealand’s current level of risk and find out what this means for you and those you support on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

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 of paramount importance and clinical support will remain available to you.

Before any visit with your midwife, you will be expected to confirm that you are well. If you are unwell, a household contact of a COVID-19 case, or a confirmed case of COVID-19 your midwife or midwifery service will arrange a way to provide you with services – see Possible exposure to COVID-19.

If there is a risk of COVID-19 your visit may be postponed or take place via a 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 also wear personal protective equipment.

Services at Green – Mild impact

At Green, community transmission is limited and COVID-19 hospitalisations will be at a manageable level. The health system will be ready to respond, including primary care, public health, and hospitals.

Your maternity care will be provided as normal. Hygiene measures will remain in place, and you may be asked to reschedule appointments if you are unwell.

Your postnatal care will be provided as normal. Hygiene measures will be increased, and you may be asked to reschedule appointments if you are unwell.

You should follow appropriate mask wearing advice when out in the community. View information on the use of masks in the community

Services at Orange – Moderate impact

At Orange there will be community transmission, with some pressure on our health system. The whole of health system is focussing its resources, but can manage primary care, public health, and hospitals. There may also be an increasing risk for some people, including people who are pregnant or have newborn babies.

Your maternity care visits will be provided to the normal schedule with most being in-person. In some situations your visit may be done partially by phone or video consultation with a shorter duration in person assessment. You will be asked to wear a mask throughout your visit, you may be asked to provide this yourself.  Hygiene measures will be increased, such as hand hygiene and thorough cleaning of equipment between visits. You may be asked to reschedule appointments if you are unwell.

Your postnatal care will be provided to the normal schedule with most being in-person. In some situations, your visit may be done partially by phone or video consultation with a shorter duration face to face assessment. You will be asked to wear a mask throughout your visit, you may be asked to provide this yourself. Hygiene measures will be increased, and you may be asked to reschedule appointments if you are unwell.

You should follow appropriate mask wearing advice when out in the community. View information on the use of masks in the community

Services at Red– Severe impact

At Red, action is needed to protect at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations. Your maternity care whilst in Red may look a bit different although you will still be able to access services.

Your midwife (or GP/obstetrician/Lead Maternity Carer) may do the majority of your visit over the phone or via video call to reduce the time spent in-person. Your midwife may decrease the number of in-person visits and will discuss with you the best place to have these. This is to protect you and your midwife from COVID-19 infection. You will be asked to wear a mask throughout your visit, you may be asked to provide this yourself.

Your postnatal care whilst in Red means your midwife will do as much as possible over the phone or via video calling. The physical assessments of you and your baby will still occur. If you require support with breastfeeding your midwife will be able to provide this. You will be asked to wear a mask throughout your visit, you may be asked to provide this yourself. Hygiene measures will be increased, and you may be asked to reschedule appointments if you are unwell.


Possible COVID-19 exposure

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, take a rapid antigen test (RAT) and report the result in My COVID Record (or by calling 0800 222 487).

RATs can be accessed from a testing location that are found on the Healthpoint website or by ordering a RAT for testing yourself at home.  

Read more: Testing for COVID-19

If you get COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 and recorded your result, you'll receive a text message from the official 2328 or 2648 number.

This text will include a link to a data free online form that you will need to fill out. This form will provide information to your health team about any health needs you may have, such as if you are pregnant or have diabetes. It’s important the health questions in the self-assessment form are filled out. If you can't use the online form or would prefer not to, you can call 800 555 278 for assistance to complete the form.

Let your midwife (or GP/obstetrician LMC) know you have COVID-19. 

You will receive the support you need through the Care in the Community program. Your health and wellbeing is of paramount importance and clinical support will remain available to you. Read more: Advice for people with COVID-19.

If you are a household contact

If you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (a case) then you are likely to hear from them that you are a Household Contact and you need to follow the advice found here:  Information for Household and Close Contacts.

If you are a Household Contact please inform your midwife (or GP/obstetrician Lead Maternity Carer). They may reschedule routine antenatal visits until you have fulfilled the isolation and testing requirements. 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 surgical face mask, your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife will also wear personal protective.

You should follow appropriate mask wearing advice when out in the community. View information on the use of masks in the community.


Take care of yourself

It is important to take care of yourself and that means taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health. See Mental health and wellbeing resources and COVID-19 support for whānau, wāhine hapu and new māmā at Depression.org.nz.

Health worker vaccinations

The health and wellbeing of pregnant people and their babies is of paramount importance and on 23 October 2021 the Government gazetted the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 to require those working in the health and disability sector to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On 14 February 2022 the Order was amended to include booster vaccines.

Evidence shows that pregnant people and newborn babies are at greater risk of poor outcomes if infected with COVID-19 and this vaccination order will help to keep you and your whānau safe.

The overwhelming majority of midwives understand the importance of getting vaccinated so they can protect themselves, their colleagues, and those they support, from COVID-19. They also understand the importance of encouraging hapū māmā who can be vaccinated for COVID-19 to get vaccinated at any stage of their pregnancy. 

The Ministry recognises the commitment and clinical expertise of New Zealand’s midwives. We know that some people may have questions about the COVID-19 vaccination, and we encourage them to talk to their healthcare professional about any concerns.

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