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Should I get pregnant now or wait until COVID is

Should I get pregnant now or wait until COVID is "over"?

Kindara | August 24, 2021 | trying to conceive
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Making even the smallest decision during the last 18 months has been harrowing. Is it safe to go to the grocery store? Should you take public transportation? Can you visit with loved ones inside? It seems like everything has gone topsy-turvy, and we're being asked to rethink our daily lives. What about big decisions, like getting pregnant? Maybe you were planning on TTC before COVID, or maybe you were even in the process of IVF or another assisted reproductive technology (ART) when COVID hit. We spoke to some folks who shared either how they are proceeding, or how they are wrestling with how to proceed, during a pandemic. We'll also let you know what the experts say about moving forward in your reproductive journey.

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Should you wait to TTC? What the experts say

As of now, we don't know when COVID will be "over", so is it best to pursue pregnancy now? The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) does not recommend avoiding pregnancy now, while keeping in mind that there's risk involved, especially since we don't yet know the impact of COVID on early pregnancy (1). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises considering one's health and risk of getting COVID, and having a conversation with their doctor before making any decisions (2). The CDC recommends that those who are trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding get vaccinated, since pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness if they get COVID, compared to non-pregnant people (3). The COVID vaccine hasn’t shown any evidence of having an impact on one's fertility, and the vaccine is equally effective in pregnant and non-pregnant people (4)(5). If you are concerned about the vaccine, be sure to talk to your doctor about them. 

What about ART and COVID? 

In March 2020, fertility clinics across the country shut down at the recommendation of ASRM, halting procedures for many and adding more stress to an already stressful process. Now that vaccines are available and we have more information about COVID, recommendations about moving forward with treatments have changed. ASRM and the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) do not recommend waiting until after COVID to resume treatment, especially if you have a time-sensitive situation, such as age,  low ovarian reserve, endometriosis, etc (6). It's also not recommended that one wait until you're vaccinated to start fertility treatments, and fertility specialists also can't require you to get the vaccine before starting treatment (7). 

Three Women and Their Choices

The decision to get pregnant or not is always a deeply personal one, and only you can make it, but you aren't alone if you're feeling overwhelmed by the choice right now. Here's what three women had to say about making decisions about pregnancy during COVID. 

Chelsea on having a second: 

Chelsea, a marketing manager in Kansas, and her husband, decided to start trying for a second baby, but put their plans on hold when COVID first started, hoping things would settle down. "Now that we are more than a year into this pandemic, and our first son is two, we have decided to go ahead and start trying for baby number two. Basically, we can no longer put off having another child, but these aren’t ideal circumstances for any of us." She is concerned about  what COVID restrictions will mean for doctors appointments (will her husband be able to come?), if her husband, first child, and extended family will be allowed into the hospital. 

Kay and financial strain: 

In spite of her "intense baby fever," Kay made the choice to wait until after COVID to get pregnant. "It's especially hard because my boyfriend and I have discussed wanting children, but we both know now isn't the right time," she said. Both have been impacted by the financial strain of the pandemic that's wreaked havoc for many, "so until business picks up, we're both content with waiting." 

Gagandeep and emotional impact: 

Gagandeep, of Yogic-Experience.com, got married right before the start of the pandemic, and changed her plan to have a baby soon after. She cited the stress COVID is placing on all medical services and risk of getting COVID during frequent visits to the doctor during pregnancy as reasons for postponing trying to conceive now, as well as her own emotional state. "The early months of pregnancy can be pretty tricky. When I think about moving forward with a new life beginning inside me, it makes me even more worried, especially when I think about what is happening around me. I already had one miscarriage earlier, and I don't think I am strong enough to tackle this emotional stress along with my pregnancy concerning my unborn child's safety during this pandemic. So, we both changed our plans, and we might plan a baby next year when the situations are better." 

 

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If you do get pregnant now 

People who are pregnant during COVID should keep their prenatal appointments, as well as any other health related procedures, says ACOG (8). They should also follow the CDC's guidelines about mask-wearing, and if they're fully vaccinated, adhere to the same recommendations as non-pregnant fully vaccinated people

You might have had a birth plan in mind before COVID, but due to the changes made in health care facilities during COVID, you may have to be flexible about what that could actually look like now. While timing and method of birth will likely not need to change, you should talk to your provider about your birth plan no matter what. What could be different is how many visitors you are allowed to have, which will depend on hospital protocol and the spread of COVID in your area. ACOG recommends giving birth in a hospital over home births in general, and that recommendation hasn't changed due to COVID (9). 

Talk to your healthcare provider about the intricacies of TTC, pregnancy, and birth during COVID — there are no dumb questions!

References +
1 FAQs Related to COVID-19. (2021, January.) Retrieved August 13th, 2021, from https://www.reproductivefacts.org/faqs/faqs-related-to-covid-19/
2

What should pregnant and recently pregnant women do to avoid the coronavirus? (2021, August). Retrieved August 14, 2021, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

3

COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding. (2021, August 11). Retrieved August 13, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html

4

New Study Reveals Covid Vaccine Does Not Cause Female Sterility. (2021, July 24). Retrieved August 14, 2021, from https://www.asrm.org/news-and-publications/news-and-research/press-releases-and-bulletins/new-study-reveals-covid-vaccine-does-not-cause-female-sterility/

5 COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy: What you need to know if you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. (2021, August 13). Retrieved August 14, 2021, from https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/mrna-covid-19-vaccine-pregnancy-breastfeeding
6

Patient Management and Clinical Recommendations During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic (n.d). Retrieved August 13, 2021, from https://www.asrm.org/news-and-publications/covid-19/statements/patient-management-and-clinical-recommendations-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/

7

FAQs Related to COVID-19. (2021, January.) Retrieved August 13th, 2021, from https://www.reproductivefacts.org/faqs/faqs-related-to-covid-19/

8

How will COVID-19 affect prenatal and postpartum care visits? (2021, August). Retrieved August 13th, 2021, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

9

Would a home birth be safer while COVID-19 is spreading? (2021, August). Retrieved August 13th, 2021, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

How Not to Waste Another Month When Trying to Conceive
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