COVID-19: Pregnant women 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: 9 December 2021

On this page:

See also: Breastfeeding advice for women who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19


Your care during pregnancy

If you are pregnant or caring for a newborn baby, it is understandable that you may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and distress while New Zealand is managing its response to COVID-19. 

The Ministry would like to reassure New Zealanders that we are committed to working closely with DHBs and the maternity sector to ensure that maternity care continues to be available to all those who need it. Pregnant people will continue to be able to access maternity services, including primary, secondary and tertiary maternity facilities which will remain open during any stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New evidence shows that pregnant people and newborn babies may be at greater risk of poor outcomes if infected with COVID-19. Being vaccinated in one of the best ways you can protect yourself and you baby.  Pregnant and recently pregnant people (defined as within 6 weeks of birth, miscarriage, or termination) may consider taking other extra precautions. 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 or to transmit the virus to others. It also protects your pēpi as there is evidence that babies can get antibodies through the placenta that help protect them from COVID-19.

Millions of pregnant people have been vaccinated around the world. Data shows no evidence that the vaccine is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy, and no additional safety concerns have been raised. The Pfizer vaccine does not contain a live virus or any ingredients that are harmful to pregnant people or their babies.

Vaccination also helps protect your baby, as there is evidence that infants can get antibodies of the virus through cord blood and then, once they are born, through breastmilk.

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

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.

This means that health professionals, including those working in the maternity sector, were required to have received their first vaccination by 15 November 2021 and to be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.

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.


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 alert levels 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 close 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 surgical face mask. Your midwife will provide you with this. 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) 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. 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, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follow their advice while waiting for your test result. Healthline should be your first line of contact, but also let your midwife (or GP/obstetrician LMC) know if you are unwell.  Read more: Testing for COVID-19.

If you are a close contact

If you have been contact traced due to potential exposure to COVID-19 you will need to self-isolate as directed.  You must tell your midwife or midwifery practice. Read more: Self-isolation

If you have been contact traced and are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your midwife (or GP/obstetrician Lead Maternity Carer) 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 particular 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 will need to wear a surgical 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, your midwife will continue antenatal visits according to the usual schedule. You will need to wear a surgical face mask during the visit, your midwife can provide you with this. Your midwife will also wear personal protective equipment.

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

If you get COVID-19

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (a confirmed or probable case) 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.


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.

Back to top