The current Coronavirus pandemic is ever-evolving and we are learning more every day about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and pregnancy. Click here to see the most recent episodes, articles, and resources on this topic.
In this article, we are talking about the coronavirus and trying to conceive. Of all the questions I have received on COVID-19, I get the most from people asking if this is not the ideal time to try and get pregnant. Deciding when to have a baby is a very personal decision with a lot of factors. This article includes some considerations when deciding if now is the right time to try and conceive. This is an ever-evolving situation, and this episode is the most recent info and data available as of April 12th, 2020.
Article and Resources
If You Are Already Pregnant
If you are pregnant right now, congratulations! For you, this is a perfect time. There is no sense in wishing you were pregnant at a different time. The best thing you can do is communicate with your doctor or midwife and stay up to date on recommendations on coronavirus and pregnancy. The truth is there will never be a time when the stars align, and all of the conditions are perfect for getting pregnant. Realistically, that would require you and your partner are both in the best physical shape of your life, and your relationship is perfect and emotionally healthy, you are entirely financially prepared, you have the best health insurance, you get the point. That is not often real life. Let’s not forget that many pregnancies are not planned and are happy surprises.
Coronavirus and Birth Rates
There have been some jokes thrown around that we can expect a baby boom nine months from now. Evidence shows it may be the opposite. Following an influenza pandemic in the late 1800s, a man named Jacques Bertillon noticed that after the massive death spike, there was a dip in birth numbers around nine months later. This dip was followed by a birth rebound a few months after that. This phenomenon is known as the Bertillon birth effect. A paper that looked at significant events resulting in a lot of deaths, like famines, pandemics, and major disasters like earthquakes found this to be true. There are some theories as to why this happens. These events impact a lot of people, just like the current pandemic is affecting everyone globally.
On the flip side, short events like a hurricane have the opposite effect. A study that looked at the fertility effect of hurricanes found there was a baby boom nine months after a significant storm. This COVID-19 pandemic is not a hurricane, and it makes sense that with so many unknowns about this new virus, there are a lot of questions from people asking if they should wait to try and conceive.
Coronavirus and Divorce Rates
Interestingly, there are reports that China is seeing a spike in divorces right now. It can be challenging to navigate quarantine with your partner, and if you are hitting some bumps trying to figure out how to spend all day every day inside with your partner, you are not alone.
Research on Coronavirus and Pregnancy
All of the limited research and data available only pertains to expecting mothers who contracted COVID-19 in the third trimester. This is because this virus is so new. In reality, we do not know exactly how this virus can affect you or your baby if you get it in the first or second trimester. I examined a lot of research in the past episodes on the coronavirus. Initially, we thought the virus does not transfer to babies. In the past month, more research has come out showing the virus transmits to a baby in utero. Again, all of the research we have pertains to mothers and babies who contracted COVID-19 in the third trimester.
Fevers and Pregnancy
We do have a lot of data about how fever can affect you and your baby during pregnancy. I have dug into that research in a past episode. If you missed that episode you can check it out here.
Coronavirus and Reproductive Medicine
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine released recommendations as of March 17th and has since published updates twice on managing fertility treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent update from the ASRM the organization is recommending the following:
- Suspending initiation of new treatment cycles, including ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation.
- Strongly considering cancellation of all embryo transfers, whether fresh or frozen.
- Continuing to care for patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent stimulation and cryopreservation.
- Suspending elective surgeries and non-urgent diagnostic procedures.
- Minimizing in-person interactions and increasing utilization of telehealth
Even if you are not relying on a procedure such as IVF to get pregnant, these recommendations may still be relevant. The society has a task force working on recommendations to re-start fertility care back up. We expect those recommendations by April 27th.
Advanced Maternal Age
If you are nervous about having a baby due to your age you can check out the episode on advanced maternal age that breaks down the evidence on how your age can impact your fertility and pregnancy. When we are looking at maternal age, we are looking at years, not months. Your 35th birthday doesn’t magically change your fertility or odds of having a healthy baby. No matter how old you are, we all have different time frames for when we want to get pregnant. If you feel that time is now and you are worrying about whether you should wait, you are not alone.
Limited Access to Prenatal Care
If you get pregnant tomorrow, you may have a tough time getting in to see your doctor or midwife. Typically, care providers wait until week 8 to get you in for your first appointment. More appointments are moving online as doctors and midwives are more cautious about in-person visits. If you have questions about how your care provider is handling appointments, please discuss it with them now, so you know what to expect.
Take Care of Your Health
Everyone should be taking precautions to protect their health right now, and this is especially true if you are trying to conceive. Your partner also needs to be taking good care of their health. Click here, for more information on your health and fertility. Due to SARS-CoV-2, you should be taking every precaution, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and everything else discussed in the past articles on coronavirus.
How Long Will This Pandemic Last?
This is the question everyone is asking. The reality is that no one knows. There has been some speculation that we might get a break in the summer, but we don’t know that for sure. From everything I have been reading and hearing, it seems that the end of this is when we have widespread antibody testing or a vaccine. The development of a vaccine is in full swing, but estimates for a safe vaccine to be widely available are still a year or more away.
Antibody testing seems like a better short term solution. By testing for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, we would know who has been exposed and should have some immunity. Using these tests, you could have a better idea of who can go back to being in public and who should remain at home. More data is coming out all the time, and as more information is available on pregnancy and the coronavirus, I will update this page.
Should You Wait to Get Pregnant?
There is never going to be a perfect time to have a baby. You could decide to hold off a couple of months until we know more. Part of the problem with trying to plan to have a baby is you do not know how long it will take you to get pregnant. In the broad scheme of things pushing TTC a month or two seems simple enough. I also understand being ready to start a family and not wanting to waste time. When to have a baby is a very personal decision, and that timing will be different for everyone. The answer for you depends on how you feel about the risks of the unknowns and whether you want to hold off.
Talk to Your Doctor or Midwife
This topic is one you should be discussing with your doctor or midwife for their thoughts and recommendations. They are your trusted partner during your pregnancy and birth and can help you navigate this. Hopefully, they are communicating any changes in their practice, policies, or recommendations with you as this situation evolves.
How Can I Help?
Please email me and let me know what resources I can help you find and how I can help you navigate this challenging time.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- World Health organization
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Dr. Peter Attia is an excellent resource for additional information and podcasts on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19
Thank you to the amazing companies that have supported this episode.
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