Aotearoa’s Maternity Care Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How COVID-19 affects maternity appointments in NZ

The Ministry of Health has updated its information for pregnant people and those who have recently given birth during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s break down what it all means.

 

The most recent information from the Ministry of Health is that pregnant people and newborn babies may be at greater risk of poor outcomes if infected with COVID-19. It’s understandable that as a pregnant person, you may be feeling anxious, scared or worried about the spread of COVID-19 for you personally, as well as what it means for your hapūtanga (pregnancy) and birth.

Regardless of the changes in Alert Levels or the COVID-19 Protection Framework (also known as the Traffic Light System), maternity care will continue to be made available to you and all birthing facilities will remain open at every stage. There may, however, be some changes to your antenatal (pregnancy) and postnatal appointments with your LMC, depending on the current Alert Level for your region.

 

ALERT LEVELS 3 & 4

At Alert Levels 3 and 4 there is active community transmission of COVID-19. During these Alert Levels your maternity care will be affected.

For your antenatal care, your LMC will do as much as possible over the phone or via video calling to protect both you and your LMC from COVID-19. During any in-person visits, you will be required to wear a mask throughout your appointment – you may be required to bring your own.

If you have any concerns throughout your pregnancy, please continue to contact your LMC as normal.

All birthing facilities remain open. Check with your LMC about the visitor policy for your local maternity unit. If you have an older child or children and are likely to give birth during these Alert Levels, you will need to organise care for them during your labour and birth. For more information on childcare across Alert Level boundaries, see the Ministry of Health website.

For people who have recently given birth, your postnatal visits from your LMC may be affected. To protect you, your baby, and your midwife from COVID-19, as much of your care as possible will take place over the phone or via video calling. If you require breastfeeding support, your midwife will still be able to provide this. The number of in-person visits you have may decrease and your midwife may ask that no partners, family members or other children are present during your appointments. Strict hygiene measures and physical distancing guidelines will be adhered to. You will be required to wear a mask throughout your appointment – you may be required to provide your own.

 

ALERT LEVEL 2

At Alert Level 2, there is low risk of community transmission of COVID-19. During this Alert Level your maternity care will be affected.

If you are in your first or second trimester of pregnancy, your LMC will do most of your antenatal care over the phone or via video calling and the number of in-person visits you have may decrease. If you are in your third trimester, in-person visits will continue to take place according to the regular schedule. You will be required to wear a mask throughout your appointment – you may be required to provide your own.

If you have any concerns throughout your pregnancy, please continue to contact your LMC.

All birthing facilities remain open. Check with your LMC or maternity unit about their visitor policy.

For people who have recently given birth, your postnatal visits from your LMC may be affected. To protect you, your baby, and your midwife from COVID-19, as much of your care as possible will take place over the phone or via video calling. If you require breastfeeding support, your midwife will still be able to provide this. The number of in-person visits you have may decrease and your midwife may ask that no partners, family members or other children are present during your appointments. Strict hygiene measures and physical distancing guidelines will be adhered to. You will be required to wear a mask throughout your appointment – you may be required to provide your own.

 

ALERT LEVEL 1

At Alert Level 1 the COVID-19 virus is contained in New Zealand. Your maternity care should return to normal during this Alert Level. Strict hygiene measures will be adhered to and if you are unwell you may be asked to reschedule your appointment.

If you have been identified by contact tracing as having had potential COVID-19 exposure, you must inform your LMC. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (as a probable case or a confirmed case), you must inform your LMC.

LMC VISITS IF YOU ARE UNWELL, A CLOSE CONTACT OF A CASE, OR A CONFIRMED CASE OF COVID-19

Before any antenatal or postnatal visits, your LMC will ask you to confirm that you are not unwell, a close contact, or a confirmed case of COVID-19.

  • If you are unwell with flu-like symptoms, the appointment may be rescheduled if it can be safely deferred, or it may take place over the phone or via video calling instead. However, if it is an urgent visit which requires you to be seen in-person, your LMC will ask you to wear a surgical mask which will be provided. They will wear some personal protective equipment.
  • If you have been contact traced and are less than 37 weeks pregnant, your LMC may reschedule your routine antenatal appointments if required and if they can be safely deferred. If you do need to have an in-person visit, your LMC will ask you to wear a surgical mask which will be provided. They will wear some personal protective equipment.
  • If you have been contact traced and are more than 37 weeks pregnant, your LMC will continue to provide routine antenatal appointments. Your LMC will ask you to wear a surgical mask which will be provided. They will wear some personal protective equipment.
  • If you are due to give birth and have not yet been cleared of COVID-19, your LMC will discuss your options for labour and birth, and immediate postnatal care in this instance.
  • If you have been identified as a contact of a case, or you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, your midwife may reschedule routine postnatal visits until it is safe to recommence visits. The timing of this will depend on your individual circumstances, as advised by your local Public Health Unit, Healthline or your primary care provider.

To protect yourself and your pēpi from COVID-19, you should get vaccinated as soon as you can. The Ministry of Health and the New Zealand College of Midwives recommend that pregnant people receive both doses of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine. It is safe to get the vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.

See the other recommendations for pregnancy & COVID-19 here.