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 baby, 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. 

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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 baby to thrive. Your care providers should support you to:

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

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and Australian College of Midwives (ACM) issued a joint statement 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 baby.
Make sure you take precautions if you are breastfeeding or practising skin-to-skin contact with your baby 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 baby (including feeding)
  • wear a surgical mask during breastfeeds
  • avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby
  • avoid kissing and touching your baby's face, and your own face
  • clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch

Read about COVID-19 and breastfeeding

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

  • if possible, a COVID negative person living in the same household could bottle feed your baby and help care for your baby
  • make sure everyone washes their hands before and after contact with your baby
  • clean bottles and sterilise breast pumps thoroughly

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.

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 baby needs close monitoring
  • your baby 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 baby to be with a well family 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 straightaway. 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 during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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, she may organise the visit over the phone or by video call. 

What if I'm self-isolating after giving birth?

If you are self-isolating because you are a household contact of someone who is COVID positive, your midwife may delay visits until after the end of your self-isolation period. Your midwife will only do this if she thinks 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 also wear personal protective equipment.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your self-isolation period, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follow their advice. Healthline is the best phone number to call first but you should also let your midwife know if you become unwell.

If you develop symptoms, your midwife will treat you as positive for COVID-19 until you receive a negative test result.

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 she thinks 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 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 mental health and wellbeing resources at the Ministry of Health website

See the mental health and wellbeing resources and COVID-19 support at Depression.org.nz.

Should my baby have their first immunisation at 6 weeks?

Yes. Immunisation on time is important for your baby. Delaying the first immunisation puts your baby at unnecessary risk of infections such as whooping cough and measles.

Find out about immunising children during COVID-19

Make sure your baby has their immunisations at:

  • 6 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 5 months
  • 15 months

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 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 The New Zealand College of Midwives.

NZ College of Midwives logo

See KidsHealth's COVID-19 section

This page last reviewed 24 March 2022.

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