Coronavirus and pregnancy: FAQ

By April 19, 2020Obstetrics

A few weeks ago, we had a look at the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how it might impact pregnant women and their families.


While we answered a few questions about the pandemic, many more concerns have been raised over recent weeks. Let’s answer some more of the frequently asked questions surrounding Coronavirus and how it may impact pregnancy.

What is Coronavirus?

The form of Coronavirus that is currently spreading is 2019-nCoV, or in other words, the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. This virus will spread from one infected person to others via respiratory droplets that fill the air, usually through coughs or sneezes. While the virus might be compared to the common flu, Coronavirus does pose a significant risk to some, including the elderly, people with disabilities, immune-deficient people and pregnant women. Common symptoms of COVID-19 my include fever, cough and shortness of breath; however, it can take up to 14 days before these symptoms show in an infected individual.

Can Covid-19 be contracted in the womb?

One of the most significant findings in preliminary research is that the virus does not appear to pass from the mother to the fetus inside the womb.

Is a C-section a safer birthing option?

Many pregnant women have asked whether a caesarean section is the safest option when giving birth, while the Coronavirus pandemic unfolds. It can be seen that the virus most likely will not be contracted by a baby inside the womb or during childbirth, however the choice is there for those wanting to be extra cautious. 

Can Covid-19 complicate pregnancy and birth?

A pregnant woman’s immune system is already somewhat reduced, and we are aware that flu and other respiratory infections will most likely cause more severe illnesses in pregnant women. COVID-19 may do the same. However, data is limited. Existing data suggests that:

  • Pregnant women with COVID-19 have a higher risk of delivering prematurely (on average, four weeks before the due date.)
  •  COVID-19 may cause pneumonia, which in severe cases can but a baby at risk of a number of developmental issues. 

What happens after birth?

Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, including the mother, will need to be isolated from the newborn until they recover in order to avoid transmitting the virus to the baby; however, it is still advised that these mothers provide breast milk. Furthermore, some protective equipment may be required, such as gloves and gowns.

How do you avoid contracting Coronavirus?

For pregnant women wanting to protect the health and safety of themselves and their soon-to-be baby they should:

  • stay at home as much as you can
  • practice good hygiene and regularly wash/sanitise hands
  • avoid close contact with people outside of your immediate family or household. (Maintain a distance of approximately 1.5 metres)
  • follow advice and regulations as provided by the Australian Government Department of Health.

What should you do if you think you have Coronavirus?

If you believe you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus and develop its symptoms, such as cough or trouble breathing, it is important to call a healthcare provider quickly for medical advice. For relatively healthy people with the virus that are not pregnant, it is likely that will only experience a very mild version of the illness and can recover at home without medical care. If a pregnant woman is exposed to someone who is sick or is experiencing any symptoms of the virus, it is crucial to get in contact with an obstetrician/gynaecologist immediately.

What happens if you are pregnant and contract Coronavirus?

Pregnant women who contract COVID-19 must be extra careful to avoid any further complications to pregnancy and birth. Any person who is diagnosed with COVID-19, including the mother, must be isolated from the newborn until they recover. However, it is still advised that breast milk is provided by the biological mother via a breast pump. As a result, some protective equipment will be needed, such as gloves and gowns.

Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most trusted obstetricians in Sydney and will give you complete and compassionate care in every way possible. If you have any questions regarding caesarean sections or would like to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch.