With couples quarantining together across the country, you might have come across many memes joking about a lot of baby booms in nine months. If you and your partner are considering trying to conceive, there are many factors to think about right now, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted every part of our society.
While the covid-19 has obligated some couples depending on fertility treatments to delay their family planning goals while the others are dealing with making the choice on their own.
On one hand, trying to conceive doesn’t mean achieving pregnancy, and possibly by the time a child is conceived and born the medical system will get back to normalcy. Moreover, there’s no solid evidence that pregnant women are particularly at risk for contracting or having serious problems from coronavirus.
On the other, getting pregnant during the pandemic could mean lesser or more isolated prenatal visits, delivering alone, and less accessibility to healthcare services should problems arise.
Here’s what OB-GYNs say couples should consider before moving forward or holding back from pregnancy plans.
Your first step? A virtual appointment with a gynaecologist.
An OB-GYN or nurse midwife (or whatever qualified professional you see) can walk you through what the research says about pregnancy and COVID-19, because it truly is changing by the minute. And that expert can take a look at your history and consider whether you’ve got any underlying health concerns that might be pertinent.
They can also walk you through some really important preconception basics, such as taking at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for a month or more before you try and get pregnant to defend against neural tube defects. They’ll also likely walk you through some best practices for staying healthy if you do decide to try and conceive, like hand-washing and social distancing.
There aren’t guidelines yet for people trying to get pregnant naturally, and more research is needed
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine allotted rules for clinicians to stall “new, nonurgent treatments” for infertility in light of the several unknowns about how the novel coronavirus impacts pregnant women and their babies. This move can also spare space and supplies for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, couples should take into consideration what the research has revealed so far: Pregnancy doesn’t particularly seem to make women vulnerable to COVID-19, and pregnant women infected with coronavirus tend to fare well. A study of 147 pregnant women in China who either had or were alleged to have COVID-19 found that only 8% had severe cases, and 1% had serious cases.
although, because pregnant women are at higher risk of problems from other respiratory contaminations like the flu, ACOG considers them as a population with risk for COVID-19. Moreover, some studies also advocate that mothers can pass COVID-19 to their babies in utero. One research has shown that babies are more at risk of severe coronavirus infection than older kids.
Ultimately, there’s still a lot researchers and doctors don’t know, including whether the medications being tested for COVID-19 are safe for pregnant women and how the virus could affect the first trimester.
This is concerning since other viruses can have noteworthy impacts in the first trimester of pregnancy. If you can postpone conception until more is known and understood, you can be more well-informed in determining if you would like to go ahead with those risks.
Women with underlying illnesses or those who expect a complicated pregnancy may be better off waiting
Many couples with complicated pregnancies including miscarriages in past have aborted the idea of trying to conceive during this time. They are expected to need more careful monitoring throughout pregnancy.
Considering how much medical intervention you may need or want is a good idea when considering this decision, experts say. People with chronic, pre-existing conditions may want to be particularly cautious.
Respiratory, cardiac, and any conditions that impair the immune system would be the conditions that one should be most concerned about since contracting COVID-19 can be more dangerous in those cases.
Consider the mental health and financial toll
Pregnant women might also want to be able to lean on family and friends during pregnancy — something that, physically, is not an option right now. Pregnancy is tough, especially the first trimester, and women need their support system around them physically in order to get through it.
Experts suggest patients to consider their mental health before proceeding with family-building plans.
COVID-19 is initiating substantial stress and anxiety in some, and social distancing can be hard to cope with over a long period of time. Couples should also take into account potential financial challenges related to job losses and insurance changes, too.
Talk to your healthcare provider before making a decision
A reproductive health provider should be able to provide guidance as couples consider the pros and cons.
Many offices are offering telemedicine or virtual visit options and preconception counselling would be well suited for a visit like this. Additionally they can take into account individual factors like your medical history and any lifestyle changes you could make to optimize your health prior to conception.
Having partners present for important moments
Hospitals countrywide have limited the number of companions pregnant women can bring to appointments. So contemplate that your partner or other loved ones(family) might miss exciting moments. The other side of the coin is that you might be on your own when getting bad news.
Seasonality of COVID-19
It’s possible the coronavirus will become a seasonal illness, like the flu. So, women who get pregnant in the coming months could have delivery due amid another outburst in the winter.
Experts just don’t know what’s going to happen. This strain has behaved differently from another well-known coronavirus, SARS, which petered out
Doctors think that the seasonality of the coronavirus is something to consider.
There’s no evidence that the coronavirus enters breast milk although there may be sometimes when breastfeeding isn’t essentially the best idea.
If a woman has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, it’s recommended that she express her milk and feed the baby indirectly so she doesn’t breathe on her new-born.
There are certain groups who should not try to conceive right now.
Though it’s pretty damn heart-breaking for people trying to conceive using reproductive medicine, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has called for a holdup of most treatments right now — including new treatment cycles of intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. It is also calling for doctors to “strongly consider” cancelling all embryo transfers. (The group noted that it’s constantly revising its recommendations and will revisit them by the end of March.)
Women who have a past of heart and lung problems such as asthma should perhaps not be trying to get pregnant right now. These are conversations for individuals to have with their providers.
If you do have an underlying health condition, you might want to rethink getting pregnant right now.
Be sure to really consider your mental health.
In New York City, which has arisen as an epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, some hospitals are telling pregnant people that not only can they not have help with them, but they also can’t have a partner — or anyone — with them during labor.
It’s unclear whether that practice will be rolled out to more hospitals in other parts of the country, but the fact that all of this is changing so quickly is something to keep in mind.
Even the best epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists and other experts can’t predict what will be happening in the world in terms of COVID-19 in nine months’ time. Pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period can all be amazing experiences, but they can also be physically and emotionally taxing under the best of circumstances.
These are all things to keep in mind as you consider getting pregnant. Will you find that sort of uncertainty too stressful? Have you thought about what it might be like to get through the postpartum period while practicing social distancing? How do you weigh all of this against what may be a very deep desire to start or grow your family as soon as possible?
“We’re all hopeful a vaccine will be available at some point,” Minkin said.
“That may not be in nine months, though. Hopefully we’ll have something in the one- to two-year time frame.”
All our lives have been upended in the last month. Many of us have lost our jobs , cancelled family trips, and been compelled to move towards home-schooling technique – but what about the women who were looking forward to getting pregnant this year?
The question of how much time this will take is not one that I can answer and is entirely dependent on the ability of our nation to flatten the curve.
The decision to restart treatments will likely be based on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers over the next months and the projected course of the peak of the virus.
What is possibly concerning is that prolonged fever in early pregnancy can be associated with birth defects like spina bifida. This can occur with any sickness that causes fever, so it could very well be associated with the prolonged fever seen with COVID-19.
Furthermore, many pregnant women need regular visits to the doctor in early pregnancy, and problems like dehydration and vaginal bleeding can result in hospital admissions and ER visits. With medical resources stretched thin over the next few months, this is not the best time for avoidable ER visits or hospital admissions.
The decision to get pregnant is clearly a very private matter, but if you are young i.e. below 32 and healthy, it does make sense to wait a few months until after the peak of the viral infections occur before trying to conceive. What better time to work on getting healthier with improved diet and exercise than while you are sheltering in place? Visits for preconception counselling and contraception can both be accomplished with telehealth, which most offices are currently making readily available during the pandemic.