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COVID-19 in Pregnancy

This page is to assist in monitoring the health of you and your baby when you have COVID-19 and are isolating at home.

For most women, COVID-19 will be a mild flu-like illness and it won’t cause problems for you or your baby, especially if you have been vaccinated.

If you have concerns:

  • about baby’s movements,
  • think you are in labour/have pain, or
  • have bleeding or abnormal fluid leakage

please attend the GCUH Maternity Assessment Centre, B Block, Level 2.

I have tested positive to COVID-19, what now?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you must immediately go home and isolate. Do not make any stops on the way home. 

During isolation you must stay in your home and away from other people in your household 

You cannot leave your house for any reason unless it is an emergency, you need medical help, or to escape family violence.

If you have an Antenatal appointment booked while in isolation, please call the antenatal clinic and notify them you're isolating. They will advise whether your appointment can be deferred or organise another appointment time for you.

Queensland Health website provides advice when you can finish your isolation and safely leave your home.

You need to advise your close contacts you are positive. Read more about how to isolate at home.

If you have severe symptoms and are unwell, call 000 or go to the Emergency Department.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 stands for “Coronavirus Disease 2019”. It is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2 that can spread from person to person.  This usually happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks near other people.

Symptoms of COVID-19 generally develop 3 to 14 days after a person is infected.  You are thought to be infectious from 2 days before the onset of symptoms.  If you don’t have symptoms, you are considered infectious from 2 days prior to your positive swab.  While most people who have COVID-19 will be asymptomatic or will have minor symptoms, it can also lead to serious complications.

Read more about COVID-19 on Queensland Health.

What happens to pregnant women if they have COVID-19?

If you have been vaccinated, you will very likely have mild symptoms, or have no symptoms at all.

Vaccination protects, you, your baby and your family.

COVID vaccines reduce the risk that you will become infected with COVID-19 and drastically reduce the risk of you developing serious illness. If you have not completed the vaccination course after you have recovered from COVID-19 it is still recommended to finish it. COVID-19 is not transmitted to your baby when pregnant and infected with COVID-19.

Some pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness.

These are women who:

  • are COVID-19 unvaccinated (or incompletely vaccinated),
  • have other medical conditions or are later in their pregnancy.

If you develop a more serious illness, you are likely to be hospitalised and require intensive care. Severe illness from COVID-19 increases the chance of your baby being born preterm, stillborn or require a caesarean birth.   

We closely monitor any COVID-19 positive women who are at increased risk, so we can make sure you are not developing severe disease.

We will ring you regularly during your illness to monitor you and your baby’s health. It is important that you keep track of your symptoms and seek help if your symptoms worsen.

Read more about COVID-19 in pregnancy from Pregnancy Birth and Baby, and Pregnancy and breastfeeding with COVID-19 from Queensland Health.

What can I take to manage my symptoms at home?
  • Simple home remedies seem to work the best:
    • Soothing drinks (honey and lemon), warm tea, lemon in hot water for cough or sore throat
    • Cool showers, a fan, cool face washers for fever
    • Steamy showers for nasal congestion or saline nasal sprays
    • Paracetamol (e.g., Panadol®) is safe to take every 6 hours (i.e., 2 x 500mg tablets up to 4 times per day, or as otherwise recommended) 
      • Take this for fever, headaches and / or muscle aches 
      • Do not take Ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen®) or any other over-the-counter product without checking with your doctor, midwife or care provider 
    • Aspirin (low dose) – if you are on aspirin treatment, STOP this medication during your infection. This can be recommenced after clearance of COVID infection
    • Rest as much as possible but do some gentle walking around every 2 – 4 hours during the day
    • Drink lots of fluids (water, juice, soups, Gastrolyte®/Hydralyte®) 
    • Eat if hungry, including fresh fruit and vegetables
    • Remember the symptoms will pass. Nasal congestion and loss of smell and taste seem to be the last to return.   
What will happen to my appointments while I have COVID-19?

Regular appointments during isolation

If you need to have a routine ultrasound, or a blood test at GCUH during your isolation period, we will advise whether this can be deferred or organise an appointment time for you. 

If you have an antenatal appointment booked while in isolation, please call antenatal clinic to cancel this appointment.  If you need a face-to-face obstetric review this will be in a COVID isolation room in the GCUH Maternity Assessment Centre. 

Low Risk Women 

Most ‘low risk’ women will not need further specific contact during their isolation period, but you should monitor your COVID symptoms and baby’s movements and contact us anytime if you are concerned.

Higher Risk Women 

If you have been referred to Virtual Maternity Team service, you will receive regular daily calls during your isolation period.

After you have recovered 

After you have recovered from COVID-19 and have finished isolation you can resume your regular pregnancy or post birth check-ups. If you have been very sick and admitted to hospital, you might have to follow up with a hospital physician and / or obstetrician, if you still have some weeks remaining in your pregnancy, we will also arrange for further monitoring of your baby. 

Will I need additional treatment for COVID-19?

Women at increased risk of severe disease may be offered some specific additional medication treatments for COVID-19 even if they are not unwell enough to need hospitalisation.

These include: 

  1. For women at high risk of developing severe disease (must be given within 5 days of onset of symptoms). These include women who are:
    • Unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated
    • Obese (BMI greater than 30) 
    • Diabetic (on medication) 
    • Immunosuppressed
    • Moderate or severe asthma
    • Heart, liver or kidney disease
    • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and older than 35 years old
  2. For women who have additional risk factors for clots in the leg / lungs 
  3. For women who need inhaled steroid puffer

We will provide you with additional information regarding these treatments if they are recommended for you, and you will be able to discuss this with your doctor or senior midwife.

How should I monitor my symptoms?

You should monitor your symptoms while at home in isolation. Keeping a diary is helpful so you can monitor change over time.

Most women will have no symptoms or mild symptoms, but it is worth specifically paying attention to the below.


You should note whether your breathing is difficult; for example, do you become breathless when you walk, when you are speaking or when sitting at rest? 

  • You can count your respiratory rate. Try to relax and breathe normally.  Set a timer for 30 seconds and start to count the number of times you breathe in and out before the time is up. Double this number and this will be your respiratory rate per minute.
  • If you are considered at higher risk of developing lung complications, you will be provided with an oximeter (which measure the oxygen level in your blood). If you have an oximeter, you will be provided with instructions on how to use it and record your oxygen levels. You should use this to measure your oxygen levels and heart rate 3 times/day. Your oxygen level should be greater than or equal to 95%. 

If your breathing is becoming more difficult, your respiratory rate is increasing, or oxygen level is less than 95%, this is a sign that you need to be reviewed by a doctor.

Heart Rate 

You can check your heart rate by feeling your pulse, or having it measured with the oximeter. To measure your heart rate, place your fingers lightly on your wrist, and count the number of beats that you feel over 30 seconds. You then need to calculate the beats per minutes by doubling the number of beats you counted over 30 seconds.  This number is your heart rate.

If your heart rate is greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute, this is a sign you need to be reviewed by a doctor.


You can measure your temperature at home with a thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can buy one from a pharmacy over the phone or online, and have it delivered to your home.

In pregnancy, we like your temperature to be less than 38°C, and if you have a high temperature and vaginal discharge / leakage please present to the Maternity Assessment Centre.

In summary, if you are monitoring your heart rate, respiratory rate or temperature at home, these are the important parameters: 

The Green Zone
  • If your respiratory rate is less than or equal to 20 breaths per minute
  • If your heart rate is less than or equal to 100 beats per minute
  • If your temperature is less than or equal to 38°c
  • Continue to monitor and record your breathing, heart rate and temperature twice per day.

The Orange Zone

  • If your respiratory rate is greater than 20 breaths per minute but less than or equal to 24 breaths per minute
  • If your heart rate is greater than 100 beats per minute but less than or equal to 120 beats per minute
  • If your temperature is greater than 38°c (despite taking paracetamol), but less than or equal to 38.5°c
  • Re-check in 2 hours’ time.  You should increase your monitoring to 4 times per day until your breathing, heart rate and temperature are back in the green zone.

The Red Zone

  • If your respiratory rate is greater than 24 breaths per minute, if your breathing is becoming more difficult,
  • If your heart rate is greater than 120 beats per minute
  • If your temperature is greater than 38.5°c (despite taking paracetamol)

You need to present to the GCUH Emergency Department.

Last updated 25 Jan 2022