Information on maternity care while you are pregnant and following the birth of your baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page was last updated: 13 May 2020
This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about COVID-19 and the transmission of other viral respiratory infections. The Ministry of Health will update it as new information is available.
On this page:
- Your care during pregnancy
- Face-to-face check-ups
- Care of older children during labour and birth
- Maternity facilities
- Postnatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Handling of the whenua/placenta for COVID confirmed or suspected women
- More information - including breastfeeding advice and support for parents with new babies
If you are pregnant or caring for newborn babies, it is understandable that you may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety while New Zealand is working to stop the spread of COVID-19. This means your plans about where you would give birth and who would support you may need to change.
Your maternity care during your pregnancy will also be affected. Your midwife (or Lead Maternity Carer) will do as much as possible over the phone or via video calling. Your midwife may decrease the number of face-to-face visits and will discuss with you the best place to have these. This is to protect you and your midwife from COVID-19 infection.
With what we know at the moment, pregnant women do not appear any more susceptible to the consequences of COVID-19 infection than the general population. Pregnant women in their third trimester should take extra precautions and keep themselves well at a time when the growing baby means higher oxygen demands on the mother. If you are more than 28 weeks pregnant you should take extra care to avoid COVID-19. Remember to:
- keep two metres from people you don’t know and who can’t easily be contact traced when out and about e.g. supermarkets and other retail outlets, shopping malls, parks, and playgrounds
- keep one metre from people you don’t live with or aren’t family/whānau and close friends but where a contact tracing register is kept e.g. work, marae, church, clubs/groups and recreation
- use your judgement about any risks to you or people you live with, your family/whānau and close friends who you have close physical contact with and remember the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues
- put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately
- wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds)
- don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs
- stay home if you feel unwell and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453
- get your free flu vaccination to reduce your risk of influenza (flu vaccine reduces risk of influenza but is not effective against COVID-19).
If you are working, you should discuss and agree with your employer a plan to ensure you’re able to do your job safely, particularly during your last trimester. It is recommended that women in their third trimester not work where there is a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19, such as some healthcare settings.
If you can’t safely work at your workplace, and can’t work from home, you need to agree what your leave from work and pay arrangements will be with your employer. You can find further information on the Employment New Zealand website: COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.
These leave arrangements may be important to ensure you remain eligible for Paid Parental Leave. Find out more about parental leave.
Pregnant women with health conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or difficult to control diabetes should follow the guidance outlined in Guidance at Alert Level 3 for people at risk of severe illness because of age and/or existing and underlying health condition (PDF).
Your midwife, or midwifery practice, will adjust the way they work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Before any visit with your midwife, you will be expected to confirm that you are well. If you are not well, the 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 to wear a surgical face mask. Your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife may also wear some personal protective equipment.
If you have been contact traced due to potential exposure to COVID-19 or someone in your household is confirmed with COVID-19 you must tell your midwife or midwifery practice. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (a confirmed or probable case), be sure to inform your midwife or midwifery practice.
If you have been contact traced and are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your midwife (or GP/obstetrician LMC) may reschedule routine antenatal visits until you have fulfilled the criteria outlined by your local Public Health Unit. You will be notified about what this is depending on your situation. 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 may need to wear a surgical face mask. Your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife may also wear some personal protective equipment.
If you are more than 37 weeks pregnant your midwife will continue antenatal visits according to the usual schedule. You may need to wear a surgical face mask during the visit. Your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife may also wear some personal protective equipment.
Your midwife will talk with you about options in case you give birth before being cleared of COVID-19. This will include local options for labour and birth, and your immediate postnatal care.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follow their advice while waiting for your test result. Healthline should be your first line of contact, then also let your midwife (or GP/obstetrician LMC) know if you become unwell.
It is important to seek support where you can. This is usually possible through normal support structures like your antenatal classes, parenting education, or parenting support groups. As these may now be postponed, try to keep in touch with your whanau and friends regularly by phone or online.
It is important to take care of yourself and that means taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health. See COVID-19: Mental health and wellbeing resources and COVID-19 support for whanau, wahine hapu and new māmā at Depression.org.nz.
For most women in the first and second trimester, your in-person check-ups may be reduced.
Your midwife will still contact you over the phone or via video calling. You may be asked to attend check-ups alone (no partners, family members or children) and you will be required to observe strict hygiene measures, including physical distancing.
The physical assessments (blood pressure and checking your baby’s growth and heart rate) will still occur but will be done as quickly as possible. It’s important you tell your midwife if you are unwell before any face-to-face visit. Your midwife may alter where she sees you for your visits. She will talk with you about this prior to the visit.
If you have older children, you will need to organise care for them when you go into labour. You must continue to follow the rules under the current Alert Level.
However, it is recommended that you identify a trusted person who can become a part of your bubble to help care for older children. This person should not have contacts other than within your bubble.
Primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities will remain open to provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are due to give birth over the next few weeks, check with your midwife about the service level available at your local maternity facility.
Maternity facilities will have restrictions on the number of visitors and support people you can have with you at the facility. This includes while you are in labour, and if you need to stay as an in-patient before the birth of your baby, or afterwards. This is important to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Reducing the number of people in the facility will help protect you, your whānau, your newborn baby, other patients in the hospital, and the women’s health staff looking after you.
For most women your in-person visits will be affected. Your midwife will do as much as possible over the phone or via video calling. Your midwife may decrease the number of in-person visits and will discuss with you the best place to have these. Your midwife may ask that no-one else is present during check-ups (no partners, family members or children) and you will be required to observe strict hygiene measures, including physical distancing. The physical assessments of you and your baby will still occur but will be done as quickly as possible. If you require support with breastfeeding your midwife will be able to provide this.
If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 or you develop flu-like symptoms and meet the updated case definition for testing you must tell your midwife or midwifery practice. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (a confirmed or probable case), inform your midwife or midwifery practice.
If you have been contact traced, meet the case definition, or you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, your midwife may reschedule routine postnatal visits until you have been advised by your local Public Health Unit, Healthline or your primary care provider it is safe to recommence visits. The timing of this will depend on your particular situation.
Deferring your visits will only happen if your midwife assesses your postnatal care can safely be delayed. If you do need a visit from your midwife, you may need to wear a surgical face mask. Your midwife will provide you with this. Your midwife may also wear PPE (personal protective equipment).
See our COVID-19 Maternity page for this information.
- See our COVID-19 breastfeeding advice.
- Read about getting help when you have a new baby or one on the way. This includes financial and emotional support, help if you can’t get out and who to talk to if you’re feeling unsafe.
- For information on accessing health care outside your local area, see the Questions and answers.