Being pregnant or welcoming a new baby into the whānau is an exciting and special time. But it can also be stressful, emotional and overwhelming.
It is understandable that if you are expecting a baby, or have recently given birth, you may feel uncertain or stressed about how you and baby will be affected by the COVID-19 situation. Now that we’ve moved to Alert level 1 things are getting back to normal, but there may still be some differences in the way we support wāhine hapū (pregnant women), new māmā and their whānau.
You will still have high quality care and access to services during pregnancy and after birth, but there could be some differences to ensure that any risk of spreading COVID-19 is minimised. Your midwife or other care provider can provide you with details about these changes.
The links below contain key information about how pregnancy and birthing services will be provided at this time.
This website has information for women and whānau who are pregnant or recently given birth. Includes information on care during pregnancy, care of older children during birth and labour, maternity facilities and postnatal care as well as advice for breastfeeding.
This website has frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and messages from midwives to women and whānau who are currently pregnant or have recently given birth. It includes information on labour, social distancing, being unwell with COVID-19, breastfeeding and other general information.
This website has information on COVID-19 that relates to Plunket services, as well as advice for parents and whānau. It has a list of resources and support services available for parents including helplines and Facebook Live Chats.
This website has information for hapu māmā, unborn pēpi and newborn pēpi. It includes advice and tikanga about pregnancy, labour, delivery and caring for your newborn pēpi during COVID-19.
This website has frequently asked questions on COVID-19 about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Self care for māmā and new parents
Pregnant women and new māmā need lots of practical, social and emotional support. Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. It is normal to feel stressed or lonely at this time, but there are some things you can do to feel better.
Get the support and information you need to get prepared and cope during this time.
Preparing for birth
- Take some time to understand if there are changes to your antenatal, birth and postnatal care. The Ministry of Health website is a good place to start.
- Know what changes you might have to make to your birth plan due to the current situation. Having a stand-in birth partner might be a good idea if your first-choice birth partner is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Ask your midwife if there is a ‘virtual tour’ available of the hospital or birthing unit you plan to go to. Here is one of Rotorua Hospital.
- Find out if there are antenatal classes being run in person or online. Ask your midwife or health care professional.
- Continue with all the usual healthy pregnancy and early parenthood activities. See the Ministry of Health and SmartStart websites.
After your baby comes
- Plan how you can make life easier when baby comes:
- Ask someone to do your supermarket shopping or order meals online.
- Find out about how support services such as breastfeeding support will be delivered.
- Arrange daily chats with support people or family.
- Try not to overthink what you ‘should’ be doing to get your baby to sleep better. If baby isn’t sleeping well, remember that it’s just a phase and it will pass. Do what you can to get sleep in your household. For further information see this Ministry of Health site or Sleep Wake site.
Parenthood can get lonely. Find ways to stay connected.
- Here are some great communities for connecting with other māmā.
- Pregnancy and birth during COVID Aotearoa - lots of positive ‘birthing during COVID-19 stories’ to be found here.
- Kia ora Māmā Facebook group.
- Breastfeeding NZ Facebook page, Breastfed NZ Facebook group.
- Kelly Child Birth Educator Waikato – lots of birthing stories and tips from wahine to read.
- Check out if your local parenting group is still meeting for ‘coffee dates’.
- Speak to your partner or talk to your friends and whānau over the phone about how you feel. Talking through your worries can help a great deal.
Information on mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy or for those who have recently given birth
- National Depression Initiative Postnatal Depression and Anxiety and other resources such as this Guide for people experiencing stress, depression and anxiety.
- New Zealand College of Midwives – Mental Health In Pregnancy.
- Mental Health Foundation.
- The Getting Through Together website has great tips and advice on how to cope with the stress of COVID-19.
- Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa.
- Sleep and mental health.
Some people may find digital or app based programmes helpful.
- The Journal is a free, personalised programme to help you manage anxiety or depression.
- Try the new Mentemia app from All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan.
- The health journal app Melon provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help manage your emotional wellbeing.
- An eTherapy programme called Staying on Track teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life.
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy during COVID-19
There are some simple ways to ensure you and your baby are as healthy as you can be during pregnancy and in preparation for birth.
- If you suspect you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test to check.
- If you are pregnant, contact a midwife or your general practitioner to start understanding how to take care of yourself and your pēpi during pregnancy.
- If you are pregnant, following are some key actions you can take to ensure you and your baby are healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
How we can support māmā
We all know that it ‘takes a village to raise a child’. Right now, we need to change the way our ‘village’ takes care of mums, whānau and babies and get creative in how we look after each other. Find a way to reach out to the new māmā in your lives. They might need someone to talk to.
Dads and partners, this can be a scary time for you too. It is understandable that you might be worried about your partner and baby. During this time you are going to need to support māmā more than ever. You can help by being supportive and reassuring and by taking on more of the childcare. This will allow more time for your partner to rest and have the sleep she needs. Dads - don't be afraid to ask for help if you or māmā are not coping.
For whānau, now we’re at alert level 1 you’ll be more able to provide the practical and emotional support to māmā during and after the birth of a new pēpi. There are lots of things you can do, including regularly checking in, doing supermarket or baby supply shopping or providing support in those early days with anything that needs to be done, in a safe way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If māmā and pēpi are up to it you will be able to visit them. Remember the following tips:
- Stay for a short time only. This can be a very tiring time for both māmā and pēpi, so keep your visit brief.
- Give māmā a call before you visit to ask if there's anything she needs you to pick up from the shops.
- If you are sick, stay home. Wait to visit māmā and pēpi until you are well.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
If you have symptoms of cold or flu call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.
If you have:
- any COVID-19 symptoms
- been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case
- recently arrived from overseas
- been in contact with someone who has travelled overseas eg, Customs and Immigration staff, staff at quarantine/isolation facilities
- worked on an international aircraft or ship
- cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas visited by international arrivals
you should get assessed for COVID-19. To discuss getting an assessment call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.
Visit the Ministry of Health’s website for more information about COVID-19 assessment and testing.
Find your new routine and ways to take care of yourself
- The Getting Through Together website has great tips and advice on how to cope with the stress of COVID-19.
- See the COVID-19 website for general tips on looking after your mental wellbeing.
- Leave the house for some light exercise or fresh air each day.
- Try to eat nutritious meals three times a day and drink plenty of water. More information here.
- Limit the time you spend watching the news and take breaks from social media.
- Whether you are preparing to give birth or already have a newborn in the house, it is important to get as much rest as you can. This might be easier said than done, but try to sleep when they sleep, or let your partner help if they are at home with you.
- Options like mirimiri/massage can be helpful.
- Māmā often put extra pressure on themselves. Try to be kind to yourself and accept that looking after your baby is a full-time job. Let the housework wait until tomorrow.
For more information on mental health during COVID-19 check out this Pregnancy in a pandemic resource.
Sleep and mental wellbeing
Sleep increases your ability to cope with uncertainty, anxiety and worries. Sleep is likely to be broken at this time, which means it doesn’t feel as refreshing. Going to bed early and sleeping-in when you get the chance can help you get the sleep you need. Napping during the day is good too but don’t worry if you can’t.
Getting into bright, natural light (from outside) for 20 to 30 minutes every morning helps increase positive mood and helps our sleep. At night we need the opposite. Turn the lights down low in the evening, and use the lowest lighting possible during the night for feeding or baby care.
Our minds and bodies like routine, which can be hard with a new baby. Where possible, doing things at the same time each day (like when you eat, activity/exercise and even when you do daily tasks like shower) helps increase a sense of certainty. Keeping a rhythm to your activities also helps your biological clock keep track of time and this helps your sleep and your mood.
Getting out and about
Getting out of the house with a new baby can be tricky but it can also be a really nice change for you and pēpi.
When you do go out it’s recommended that that you keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. This will help with rapid contact tracing if it’s needed.
To help keep track of where you’ve been you can download the NZ COVID-19 Tracer app or simply make a note of where you’ve been.
If you need extra support or to speak to someone
If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, depression or low mood, or if you are struggling with caring for your baby, find a trusted person to discuss your feelings and let your midwife or Well Child provider know.
There are support options available to help you. If your partner is experiencing these feelings, it is also important they reach out to someone for support too.
If you don’t get help the first time you ask, ask again, or find someone else who will listen.
If you think you are going to harm yourself or your baby call 111 immediately.
Family Violence - If you feel unsafe in your home or are experiencing family violence, reach out to someone or visit this website to find the right organisation to call. In an emergency call 111.
If you want to talk to a trained counsellor about how you’re feeling, or you’ve got any questions, you can call Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or text or call 1737.
If you are worried about your baby call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922.
Family Services Directory - The Family Services Directory aims to connect people with local providers who can help them to cope with common issues and problems locally.
Other pregnancy information
A range of information for parents or whānau during the COVID-19 pandemic including safe sleeping, breastfeeding and local or regional health advice across New Zealand.
General information about health pregnancies.
A range of information and services for pregnancy and for parents of young children.