Getting Pregnant During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Even in the midst of a pandemic, life goes on—and biological clocks keep ticking. This is a particularly scary time because, more than ever, it seems like the future is up in the air. It goes without saying that when you are embarking on a pregnancy journey, it is helpful to be prepared for the future. But if you really think about it, do we ever know what to expect? The future is hardly written in stone and whether we realize it or not, we are always taking risks in life. When my husband and I were going through fertility treatments, we certainly did not have everything figured out. However, we did know that we wanted to start a family.

For you to make the very personal decision of whether or not you should get pregnant during our current pandemic, you need to be armed with information.

What do we know about coronavirus and pregnancy?

The truthful answer here is, scientist don’t know as much as they would like to know. We have been dealing with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) for only a few months. What we know comes from what scientists have observed about pregnant women who have come down with the virus.

What we do know:

  • A woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy. However, so far, scientists haven’t seen that pregnant woman are at a particularly increased risk of infection with the new coronavirus.
  • There is some evidence that infection with SARS-CoV-2 can damage blood vessels in the placenta (perhaps affecting blood flow between mother and fetus).
  • Evidence has NOT shown that SARS-CoV-2 crosses the placenta.
  • Evidence has NOT shown that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted to baby as she travels through the birth canal.
  • There is some evidence that women with COVID-19 who deliver by C-section are at greater risk for complications.
  • There is some evidence that babies delivered to mothers with COVID-19 by C-section are also at greater risk for complications.
  • Evidence has NOT shown that SARS-CoV-2 is carried in breastmilk.

Knowing the risks during this pandemic, you can make a more informed decision as to whether or not now is the right time to grow your family.

Telehealth and doctor visits

It is very likely that, if you do get pregnant, many of your doctor visits will be via the internet. This is to protect both you and your fetus from an increased risk of being exposed to the virus. However, if you need increased monitoring for a high-risk pregnancy, you will still have to go for in-person doctor visits.

Furthermore, if you are seeking treatment for infertility, you may find some options to be limited.

Mental health considerations

There really is a lot going on in the world right now. Of utmost importance is that you take into account how you are dealing with it all and how being pregnant may affect you on a day-to-day basis. If you are having difficulty with quarantine or working from home, or even if you have other children for whom you are caring that require more of your time and attention, it is important to gauge your feelings regarding these things. Then add onto that how a pregnancy with its possible morning sickness and hormonal swings, and boredom and loneliness from COVID-19 isolation may figure into your life.

Even in normal times, it’s important to have a support system, like friends or relatives, or a therapist. You will need others you can rely on who will be there for your emotional needs as you progress through a pregnancy and beyond. You may want to make sure you have a solid support system in place before embarking on this journey.

Economics

Another uncertainty to consider is economic stability. During this time, we have seen unemployment rise to higher levels than we have ever seen in our lifetimes due to shutdowns and concern for public health. While our economic futures are never certain, losing a job with health insurance would not be the best situation for a pregnant woman.

There’s never a perfect time to get pregnant

Although some of us would like to think we know when the perfect time will be, there really is no perfect time to get pregnant. We may never have enough money saved up. We may never have recession-proof employment. And we can never predict the future. Knowing the risks during this pandemic, you can make a more informed decision as to whether or not now is the right time to grow your family.

Janette DeFelice
Dr. Janette DeFelice is a writer currently focusing on how the changing environment affects our health. She holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from Chicago Medical School where she taught clinical and diagnostic skills to beginning medical students, and a Master’s degree in Humanities from the University of Chicago. She also has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Her writing can be seen online at BeTheChangeMom, ChicagoNow, and Medium, and she’s very excited to have published her first novel, Delia Rising: A Ballet in Three Acts. She lives in Chicago’s west suburbs with her school-age twins, her husband, and a family cat named Clara Barton.

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