Mater COVID-19 update

Last updated: Tuesday 2 April 2020, 8.40 am

Restrictions to visitors at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals:

We have added precautions to keep our women, newborns and staff safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves. From Thursday 19 March, we will be restricting the number of people who can enter Mater Mothers’ Hospitals and undertake routine health screening before entering.

Check the accessibility below for the area of Mater Mothers' you wish to visit:

Mater Mothers’ Hospitals

All visitors will be restricted to one partner OR support person only. This includes our Birthing Suite, Pregnancy Assessment Centre, Mater Centre for Maternal Fetal Medicine, antenatal clinics and all wards. Unfortunately siblings will not be able to visit during this time, and we recommend that grandparents and elderly people, who are most at risk, are not this support person. No substitution of support persons will be permitted.

We do ask, if you have any flu-like symptoms which include a fever or cough, please avoid visiting family or friends in hospital.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, this decision has been made to keep our women, newborns and staff safe while we continue to provide care at Mater Mothers.

Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit

For families with babies in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit, visitors will be restricted to the mother plus one partner OR support person. Unfortunately siblings and grandparents will not be able to visit during this time. 

We do ask, if you have any flu-like symptoms which include a fever or cough, please avoid visiting family or friends in hospital.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, this decision has been made to keep our women, newborns and staff safe while we continue to provide care at Mater Mothers.


Frequently asked questions

To view our frequently asked questions, click here.
 

Pregnant or with a newborn or children: Coronavirus and what you need to know

Created Tuesday 17 March 2020, 11.31 am

Updated Tuesday 31 March 2020, 2.20 pm

As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases increase across Australia and the world, we understand it can be overwhelming to make sense of all the information currently available.

So we’ve asked our Mater Mothers’ maternity experts to answer some of the most commonly asked questions from our mothers community.

The good news is, to date, evidence indicates that pregnant women are at no more risk than non-pregnant women. Additionally, so far there has been a much lower rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, compared to the general population.

Now, on to some of the commonly asked questions our parents are asking:

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

The virus appears to spread through respiratory droplets, but also through faeces and things that you can touch (surfaces, towels etc). People are most contagious when they are most symptomatic (i.e. the sickest) but spread can also occur when a person is asymptomatic. To help restrict the spread of the infection, you and your family should focus on good hand hygiene, avoiding handshakes and large gatherings, and practicing social distancing.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted in pregnancy?

There have been a few cases reported of possible transmission from mother to baby in the womb but the rates appear to be low. Some of these infections may have been the result of the baby catching the virus after birth, but it does appear that it is possible, although rare, for the virus to be transmitted to baby before birth. One research project has recently tested amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swabs and placentas from COVID-19 infected mothers, with all of these particular samples testing negative for the virus.

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women and new mums?

The vast majority of women will experience either nothing (asymptomatic) or mild to moderate cold/flu like symptoms. Fever and cough are the most common symptoms, with runny nose and sneezing being less frequent symptoms. Initial data suggests that pregnant women get no more (or less) sick than non-pregnant women who have contracted the virus. 

The greatest risk with COVID-19 appears to be in older people, those whose immune system is suppressed, or with underlying health conditions like diabetes, cancer, cardiac conditions or chronic lung disease.

Does COVID-19 affect babies?

It appears that it is uncommon for the virus to cross the placenta and affect the baby. It also appears that COVID-19 does not induce premature labour and there is no information to suggest that COVID-19 causes miscarriage. Newborn babies who have been affected, either from transmission in the womb or early infection, do not appear to develop a serious illness. To date, there has been a much lower rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children, relative to the general population, in all countries around the world.  

Is a caesarean section safer?

There is no evidence to suggest that a caesarean section is safer for women who have COVID-19, and it is not being recommended as a birth option for this reason alone. The evidence we have to date is that transmission to babies does not happen during pregnancy or during the birth.

Will women with COVID-19 be looked after differently in labour?

For women planning a vaginal delivery, for most this will still be possible. Staff caring for women in labour with COVID-19 will take all possible precautions against spreading the virus. Monitoring of the baby’s heart rate throughout labour will also occur to ensure that sufficient oxygen is getting through to the baby at all times.  

What about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is encouraged for all mums. The early data indicates that COVID-19 does not pass through breast milk, but protective antibodies to coronaviruses do. The concern for new mums who have COVID-19 is rather their close contact with their baby, as the virus is most commonly spread by respiratory droplets.  

Like always, mums should thoroughly wash their hands (for at least 20 seconds) before each feed. Some guidelines are recommending COVID-19 positive new mums to wear a face mask while feeding.   

What should we all be doing?

The advice for pregnant women is no different to everyone else in the general community.
 

Think about keeping grandparents safe

You may need to call on someone to help care for your baby or other children if you become unwell. A lot of the time we call on grandparents for this help, but it’s important to remember that older people are the most likely to become seriously ill should they contract COVID-19, and the most at risk of fatality.

Now is a great time to think about making alternative arrangements and consider who you can call on, should you or your partner become unwell. 

If you do have to call on grandparents, please ensure you’ve spoken with them about how they can reduce their risk of infection while caring for your baby or children.

Hygiene is key

The most important thing you can do to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene. This includes:

  • cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
  • covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • avoiding touching your face, nose and mouth and avoid shaking hands
  • staying home if you are unwell
  • avoiding contact with anyone who is unwell—try to stay 1.5m away from anyone coughing or sneezing. 

More information

Mater continues to work as part of the broader health network in support of Public Health efforts to test, contain and manage COVID-19. For the latest information on protecting your family please read Mater's updates here.

As is usual practice, if you feel unwell, please avoid visiting family or friends in hospital and seek medical attention for any symptoms.

Anyone with concerns, please call 13 HEALTH or find up-to-date information on the Queensland Health website.

For early pregnancy bleeding or pain, or urgent pregnancy related issues please present to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre 24 hours a day 7 days a week or call 07 3163 7000. 

To find out more, you read further FAQs below.

 

Frequently asked questions

Last updated: Tuesday 2 April 2020, 8.40 am

 

Is a patient coming to Mater Mothers at risk of contracting COVID-19? Do you have masks to protect patients?

It is safe to attend Queensland hospitals whether it’s through emergency or for an appointment. No mask is necessary.

Can I come to Pregnancy Assessment Centre (PAC) if I am unwell or should I attend an Emergency Department? Even postnatally?

If you are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 and have no complications of pregnancy, you should attend ED or your GP for screening. However, if you have pregnancy symptoms/complications, please attend PAC regardless of other symptoms. Please inform staff immediately on arrival.

Can I call PAC?

For early pregnancy bleeding or pain, or urgent pregnancy related issues please present to the Pregnancy Assessment Centre 24 hours a day 7 days a week or call 07 3163 7000, your obstetrician or your GP for advice.

Will Mater go into lock down? If so where will I have my baby?

Mater Mothers provides an essential service and will remain open for business as usual.

We have added precautions to keep our women, newborns and staff safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves. From Thursday 19 March, we will be restricting the number of people who can enter Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

  • All visitors will be restricted to one partner OR support person only. This includes our Birthing Suite, Pregnancy Assessment Centre, Mater Centre for Maternal Fetal Medicine, antenatal clinics and all wards. Unfortunately siblings will not be able to visit during this time, and we recommend that grandparents and elderly people, who are most at risk, are not this support person. No substitution of support persons will be permitted.
  • For families with babies in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit, visitors will be restricted to the mother plus one partner OR support person. Unfortunately siblings and grandparents will not be able to visit during this time.

Will I have to share a room?

Mater Mothers has single rooms for private patients and shared rooms for public patients. Should a single room be required for COVID-19  specific safety precautions our staff will advise you.

What happens if a family member shows symptoms, is sick or in isolation? Can they still be my birth partner/visit?

No.

If I have symptoms will my booked procedure go ahead?

Depending on the severity of your symptoms you will be assessed by the medical team and a plan of care made from there.

Can I discharge home early?

Yes, if you and your baby are well and your health team are happy for discharge. If you are an eligible Mater Mothers’ Private Brisbane patient, you may also consider one of our Caring Continues options.

Will I still get a home visit from the midwife?

We understand that being home with a new baby can be overwhelming at the best of times. Therefore every effort will be made to ensure you receive a home visit from a midwife. If you are in isolation, this may take the form of a telehealth visit.

Are there still classes available?

Face-to-face group classes will no longer be taking place in accordance with Government guidelines for social distancing, however our antenatal education classes will be moved onto an online platform, facilitated by a Mater Mothers’ midwife. To book into one of our classes, please phone our bookings team on 07 3163 8847.

Is my baby safe? Are the staff clear and healthy? Are they looking after more women than me?

Mater Mothers has every precaution in place to ensure preparedness. Our maternity hospitals remain fully functional with services operating as per normal. All Mater Mothers’ staff are trained professionals and work together to help protect and keep safe our patients, staff and visitors.

What can I do to protect my baby?

Follow any advice that comes through Queensland Health and particularly follow Social Distancing and hand hygiene guidelines.

What happens if I go into labour during my self-isolation period?

Your maternity team know how to ensure you and your baby receive safe, quality care, respecting your birth plan as closely as possible.

  • You are advised to attend hospital via private transport where possible, or call 13HEALTH for advice as appropriate.
  • When you arrive at Mater Mothers we will undertake a health screen. If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you will be provided with a surgical face mask, that needs to stay on until advised otherwise.
  • Coronavirus testing will be arranged.
  • Patients may each have a maximum of one visitor OR support person (birth partner). Your birth partner will be able to stay with you throughout your labour.

Will I be able to stay with my baby/provide skin-to-skin if I have suspected or confirmed COVID-19?

Each case will be reviewed and planned with your medical team to plan your care.

A discussion about the risks and benefits should take place between you and your family and the doctors caring for your baby (neonatologists) to individualise care for your baby.

This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.

I’m stressed having trouble breastfeeding—where can I go for support?

Mater Mothers’ Parenting Support Centre offers early parenting support and guidance for Mater mums up to six months after the birth of your baby. Support can be provided to help address issues including:

  • breastfeeding and feeding
  • sleep and settling
  • emotional wellbeing
  • infant interactions
  • adjusting to your new role as a parent/caregiver.

We’re also offering breastfeeding support with our experienced Lactation Consultants via Telehealth (online), Monday to Friday. Please call our team friendly team to find out more on 07 3163 2229.

If my baby is in the Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) can I visit?

For families with babies in Mater Mothers’ Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU), visitors will be restricted to the mother plus one partner OR support person. Unfortunately siblings and grandparents will not be able to visit during this time.

This guidance may change in line with public health recommendations.

 

What is NCCU doing to protect babies from getting COVID-19?

Any Mater staff member with any illness must stay at home and not come into work—this is particularly important in NCCU as any infection can be dangerous for our seriously ill and premature babies.

Mater Mothers’ is reducing visitors and non-essential staff to all of our hospitals, as well as undertaking routine health screening before entering.

What happens if a baby in NCCU gets COVID-19?

Emerging evidence from other countries is that it is very uncommon for newborn babies to be born with COVID-19, even if the mother has the virus.

Babies who contract the illness after birth only appear to have a mild illness.

We still do not know what effects the illness will have on vulnerable premature babies or babies with underlying conditions and so for that reason and to protect all our babies and staff we continue to have strong measures in place to protect our babies, parents and staff.

What can I do as a parent to prevent COVID-19 infection in NCCU babies?

Would it be safer to just stop visiting my baby in NCCU altogether?

If you practice the measures above you are safe to visit your baby.  It is important for you and your baby to have time together and you baby needs to experience your touch, smell and/or voice. It is beneficial to both the mother's and baby's health to have skin to skin time.

I'm a public patient, will I continue to have my pregnancy check-ups at the hospital?

Where possible, women who have low risk pregnancies will have either GP Shared Care or midwifery care at the hospital. Either way you will receive your regular checks by telehealth where a midwife or GP will contact you and ask you to take your blood pressure on a machine that you have sourced yourself (if possible).  If this is not possible, Mater Mothers have a limited supply of blood pressure machines for loan. The GP or midwife will talk to you about your baby’s growth and movements and make an assessment of your pregnancy progress.

There will be one visit to Mater at 34-37 weeks gestation, where you will be able to have an ultrasound scan to check that your baby is growing well. You will also be able to see a midwife at this time for a blood pressure check and general assessment.

Please be assured, if your pregnancy has been identified as high risk, you will still be seen face-to-face at Mater Mothers.

Can I bring my other children to the hospital grounds (outside) to meet our newborn?

Mater continues to work as part of the broader health network in support of Public Health efforts to test, contain and manage COVID-19. We have specific precautions and protections in place to ensure the highest level of safety for our patients, staff and the community. At this time all visitors to Mater Mothers will be restricted to one partner OR support person only. This does unfortunately mean that children are not permitted to visit the hospital, including hospital grounds.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, this decision has been made to keep our women, newborns and staff safe while we continue to provide care at Mater Mothers. 

Will Mater Mothers move to having no support person in hospital?

We understand this can be an uncertain and worrying time to be pregnant and bringing a baby into the world. Mater is doing everything we can to keep you, your baby and our staff safe. At this time, you are able to have your partner or support person with you in birth suite when delivering your baby. We recommend speaking with your obstetrician or midwife to help answer any questions you may have.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will be guided by Queensland Health and Government recommendations.

Should I consider changing to a home birth?

As COVID-19 continues to evolve Mater Mothers is committed to providing compassionate care within the current guidelines. We have taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our mothers, babies, staff and the community. In line with Queensland Health recommendations, all women who are booked to give birth at Mater Mothers’ should continue to do so. If you have any questions, please speak with your obstetrician or midwife. 

I would like to know more about COVID-19

Stay informed and read the latest announcements about COVID-19 and up-to-date advice here.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

If your health deteriorates or you have any further questions regarding your condition, please contact your midwife or obstetrician.

 

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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