If you’re reading this, you or your partner are probably wondering if you should keep trying to conceive during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Starting a family is a big decision, and there’s a lot to consider—even in the best of times.
Now, during a global pandemic, there’s even more. Concerns about access to medical care, the health of both mother and baby, how to deal with pregnancy during these times, and other unknowns can be overwhelming. So, should you reconsider conceiving until COVID-19 subsides?
The short answer: it’s entirely up to you.
The long answer: there are pros and cons to every situation, and each person has different needs. While you might be afraid of the unknowns caused by the pandemic, there might be factors that outweigh your fears to make conceiving now totally worth it.
Let’s take a look at some factors to consider that may affect conceiving during a pandemic so you are able to make an informed decision.
Unfortunately, because the virus is relatively new there is currently no definitive data on the impact of the COVID-19 on fertility, pregnancy, childbirth or transmission of disease to newborns. Because of this, we simply do not know and cannot verify that there is no impact or any specific impact on pregnancy, fetuses or neonates.
Respiratory viruses, in general, are not known to be transmitted by embryo implantation. There have been no reported cases of transmission of COVID-19 via embryo transfer.
Although there is no current evidence of maternal-fetal transmission of COVID-19, data is limited and prior data support that a febrile illness in pregnancy may pose risks including miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Reported cases of infected newborns have fortunately had good recoveries, although how they were infected is still not clear. However, an infected mother can transmit the virus to her infant after birth through respiratory droplets. Further, medications to treat COVID-19 are not currently tested/approved in pregnancy.
If you do become pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic, please continue to take the same precautions as anyone else: make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, use hand sanitizer, wear masks and gloves in public, and practice social distancing.
Know the risks
Other than these unknowns, there are some important things you should consider before trying to conceive.
Generally, when pregnant, you’re naturally more susceptible to viral infections—and more likely to develop severe illnesses after respiratory infections—because of the changes to your cardiovascular and immune systems. Infections such as H1N1 and the flu are two examples.
Despite this, it is currently unclear whether pregnant adults are more at risk for COVID-19 due to lack of research. The few studies available are limited to the impact of COVID-19 on women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. There is no information on how COVID-19 affects women and unborn children in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Note: Keep in mind that, even though results show that pregnant adults are unlikely to get a more severe case of COVID-19, the illness is still severe. At the time of writing, there have been 1,152,372 cases and 38,576 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19 alone, with the highest number of infections in California, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and other states. To find out more about COVID-19 cases, you can visit the CDC coronavirus website here.
Another question you might have is about any additional risks to the child. COVID-19 is still a severe illness that affects the mother while carrying the child, which means that the child can be affected by the mother’s physical and mental stress.
Getting access to care
Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been more cautious of visiting the hospital for non-COVID-19 reasons. Not only are hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, they are also a high-risk zone for patients and healthcare workers alike.
Also, because most hospitals are at capacity, it can be difficult to access prenatal and postnatal care. Patients who usually might go to hospitals for care will be sent to OBGYN locations because of hospital short staffing and capacity. Even if you aren’t among this group of patients, this might affect you eventually; with so many people avoiding hospitals, your doctor might also find themselves overbooked and understaffed.
Finally, when deciding whether or not to conceive, it is important to consider your financial situation. It might be unpleasant to think about, but consider your current level of financial stability. With the stock market crash and a downturn in the oil and gas industry, many businesses—especially small businesses—are suffering because of government-mandated quarantine.
These restrictions are essential for public health, but if you or your partner are on the wrong side of the layoff list, you might find yourself possibly unemployed and without health insurance. This could make it costly and difficult to navigate the birth process, especially postpartum. (This accompanying stress can also affect the health of your child, both before and after birth.)
Planning your fertility should involve a realistic assessment of you and your partner’s goals, health, and finances. Building a family is a big step, and it can be difficult to identify the right time to take it. All things considered, there’s no short answer to whether you should wait to start a family. Each person, relationship, employment situation, and personal health considerations are different. However, the points outlined above might help highlight some factors you might not have considered.
No matter your decision, make sure that you and your partner have carefully discussed all factors with each other and with your doctor.