COVID-19 Positive & Caring For A Newborn

COVID-19 Positive & Caring For A Newborn

If you are COVID-19 positive and caring for a newborn pēpi, there are some things you can do to protect them. Find out what you can do to keep them safe, what you can expect from your maternity carer and what to do if you become quite unwell. 


What happens straight after birth if I have COVID-19?

If you have COVID-19, staff in your maternity unit will talk with you about your options straight after birth. They will involve you in shared decision-making.

Can I touch and hold my newborn baby if I have COVID-19?

Yes. Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding will help your pēpi to thrive. Your care providers should support you to:

  • breastfeed safely - taking precautions
  • hold your newborn skin-to-skin
  • share a room with your pēpi 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and Australian College of Midwives (ACM) issued a joint statement on 7 September 2021. The statement followed a review which looked at risk factors for babies getting COVID-19. The joint statement continued to recommend close contact between a mother and her newborn immediately after birth.

Early skin-to-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, rooming in with well, healthy term babies and breastfeeding are still recommended for new mothers with COVID-19 infection.

Can I breastfeed if I have COVID? 

Yes, you can breastfeed if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Continuing to breastfeed benefits your pēpi. Make sure you take precautions if you are breastfeeding or practising skin-to-skin contact with your pēpi and you have either:

  • confirmed or suspected COVID-19
  • any symptoms of COVID-19

What precautions should I take if I'm breastfeeding and have COVID-19?

  • wash hands before and after contact with your pēpi (including feeding)
  • wear a surgical mask during breastfeeds
  • avoid coughing or sneezing on your pēpi
  • avoid kissing and touching your baby's face, and your own face
  • clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch
  • clean and sterilise breast pumps thoroughly

Read about COVID-19 and breastfeeding

What precautions should I take if I'm bottle feeding and have COVID-19?

If you are bottle-feeding for any reason, a COVID negative person living in the same household could feed your pēpi and help care for your pēpi. You will need to take the following precautions: 

  • wash hands before and after contact with your pēpi (including feeding)
  • wear a surgical mask during bottle feeds
  • avoid coughing or sneezing on your pēpi
  • avoid kissing and touching your baby's face, and your own face
  • clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch
  • clean and sterilise bottles thoroughly

What other precautions could I take when caring for a newborn while I have COVID-19?

  • make sure everyone washes their hands before and after contact with your baby
  • make sure everyone wears a medical mask when handling your pēpi

Watch this video on caring for a newborn when you have COVID-19

What are the chances of my baby developing COVID-19?

Other countries (such as Italy and the UK) report that babies usually stay well if they stay with a mother who has mild COVID-19 symptoms and takes precautions around breastfeeding and caring for her baby.

How long should I stay in the maternity unit?

If you have COVID-19 and are well, you may be able to go home and receive care from your midwife.

Your stay in the maternity unit will be longer if:

  • you need close monitoring
  • your pēpi needs close monitoring
  • your pēpi is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or specialist care baby unit (SCBU) for a short stay

What if I become quite unwell and need treatment for COVID-19?

If you become quite unwell and need to transfer to a medical area or intensive care unit for your own treatment, the best option is for your pēpi to be with a well family or whānau member. If you are well enough to do so, you can still express breastmilk for your baby.

What if I have COVID-19 and my baby has to go to a NICU or SCBU?

Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) or specialist care baby units (SCBUs) will be taking special precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is really important to protect babies and staff.

If you or your partner have COVID-19 and your baby needs to spend time in NICU or SCBU, you won't be able to visit your baby in the unit straight away. NICU and SCBU staff understand this will be a very difficult time for you. They will talk with you about using your phone to keep in touch and to take photos and video clips. In a few situations, it may be possible to visit with careful planning. Talk to the NICU or SCBU staff if there are special circumstances. 

If your baby was premature or needs to stay in NICU or SCBU for a longer time, talk to specialist staff at your unit about when you and your partner can visit your baby.

Your NICU or SCBU will have requirements you need to meet, such as:

  • a minimum number of days since you (or your partner) became unwell, and
  • a minimum period since you (or your partner) have had no symptoms, and
  • testing - testing will depend on advice from your local specialists

If your baby was not premature and has been in NICU or SCBU for a shorter stay, they can come back to you (or another family member) once stable and before leaving hospital.

What can I expect from my care after my baby's birth?

Before any in-person check-ups, your midwife will check that you are well. If you are not well, your midwife may change the appointment to a later date. Or, they may organise the visit over the phone or by video call.

What should I do if I have a COVID-19 diagnosis after giving birth?

If you have had a COVID-19 diagnosis, tell your midwife. Your midwife may delay your normal visits until you are clear of COVID-19. Your midwife will only do this if they think it is safe for you and your baby.

If you do need a visit, you will wear a medical face mask while your midwife visits you. Your midwife will give you the mask. Your midwife will wear personal protection equipment during the visit.

If your baby becomes unwell, seek midwifery or medical help. Don't delay because you have COVID-19.

Resources for taking care of your mental health

It is important to take care of yourself and that means taking care of your mental health as well as your physical health.

Check some resources that may be helpful.

Check information about mental health and wellbeing at the Unite Against COVID-19 website

See the mental health and wellbeing resources and COVID-19 support at

Should my baby have their first immunisation at 6 weeks?

Yes. Immunising your pēpi on time is important for protecting them from infections such as whooping cough and measles.

Find out about immunising children during COVID-19

GPs will have arrangements in place so that babies and children can have their immunisations safely during COVID-19. If some GP practices can't provide immunisations during COVID-19, they will refer families and whānau to another provider who can. You can call your GP ahead of visiting to find out about the arrangements they have in place.

The content on this page is supported by Te Kāreti o ngā Kaiwhakawhānau ki Aotearoa | The New Zealand College of Midwives.

NZ College of Midwives logo

See KidsHealth's COVID-19 section

This page last reviewed 17 May 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it