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Should I try to get pregnant during the coronavirus pandemic?

Good news, mama. You don't necessarily have to change your plans.

trying to conceive pandemic

By now, we've all had plans—big and small—that were disrupted, changed or completely canceled by coronavirus: family visits, sporting events, concerts, conferences, work trips, vacations, weddings and even haircuts, to name a few. For many who had plans to start trying to get pregnant, the pandemic has brought a lot of concern and confusion.

As we move forward in this new world, women at our clinics are thinking seriously about whether this is the right time to try to get pregnant. The answer will be different for everyone, of course. As the Chief Medical Officer of a large women's health care provider, I've seen first-hand that you can have a safe pregnancy and birth during this time.

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I'm writing to help women think through challenging questions about getting pregnant and giving birth during this pandemic.

Is it safe to go to the doctor for conception consultations and appointments if I become pregnant during the pandemic?

For women trying to conceive and pregnant women, telehealth may be an excellent option for some appointments. Some insurers are also taking steps to remove co-pays during coronavirus (and hopefully beyond), so your telehealth visit could be free.

Any appointment where a provider doesn't have to physically examine, or appointments that don't involve any testing can be a telehealth appointment. These might include:

  • Consultations on getting pregnant
  • Pregnancy check-ups where an ultrasound or blood work isn't needed
  • Mental wellness check-ins
  • Postpartum visits if a physical assessment is not needed
  • Lactation consultations
  • Surgical incision healing check

For women who have a blood pressure cuff and ability to dip their urine at home, our offices have made telehealth an option for many pregnancy appointments.

Telehealth is a great complement to in-person care and it's exciting that more and more women are taking advantage of its convenience. However, in-person visits are still essential for identifying potential concerns, especially for those with high-risk pregnancies.

For necessary in-person visits, practices are helping women stay safe through distancing, limiting guests, cleaning frequently and requiring protective equipment. At our clinics, we're also screening all patients, doctors, and staff before appointments to make sure they don't have coronavirus symptoms.

If you're nervous, ask your provider about what their practice is doing to keep safe, and make sure you feel confident about the proactive steps they're taking. It's not too much to expect your doctor's office to be prepared to protect you and their staff from coronavirus.

Would becoming pregnant make me more at risk for coronavirus?

Coronavirus research in pregnant women is limited—we just don't know enough about the virus and its impact. However, the little research we currently have suggests that there is not an obvious direct increased risk to pregnant women. Current information indicates that:

This information is continuing to evolve as doctors and scientists gather more data. At my institution, we have brought a group of OB providers together to review the data regularly and create a set of guidelines for how to manage expectant mothers through this pandemic.

Regardless, expectant mothers are at a higher risk of contracting illnesses in general and should always be careful. For now, it's best to take every precaution. If you haven't read them already, here are the CDC's guidelines on how to protect yourself.

Is it safe to deliver at a hospital during the pandemic?

Providers are doing everything they can to make sure that the childbirth experience during a pandemic is still safe and joyful. Coronavirus has caused many women to consider changing their birthing plans. While these concerns and fears are clearly understandable, it's important to know that delivering in a hospital or a certified birthing center is still a safe option.

Newborns are susceptible to coronavirus transmission. To protect the health of infants, many hospitals are taking extra precautions with patients, especially those who are symptomatic or positive for coronavirus. Specific guidelines vary from hospital to hospital, and may include limiting the number of people in a delivery room, and for mothers positive with coronavirus, limiting initial skin to skin contact when coronavirus is present.

If you're worried about continuing with your birth plan, check-in with your provider about what guidelines they're following and how they will protect you and your baby's health. One Advantia OB-GYN, Dr. Prust, said it best: "You're coming to us for the most important experience of your life. We want you to still be able to enjoy [it]."

Will getting pregnant during the pandemic make me too anxious or stressed out?

Stress and anxiety can impact all of us, particularly during uncertain times, and definitely before, during and after pregnancy. Feeling isolated and worrying has taken a toll on just about everyone's mental health.

If you are experiencing sadness, stress or anxiety, remember that what you're going through is completely normal, and thousands of other women are feeling the same way. Call your provider and get the care you need. Many practices have telehealth options for mental wellness to support you through these difficult and challenging times.

For pregnant women, prioritizing good nutrition, staying hydrated, exercising and getting enough sleep are very important and can actually help with anxiety and stress levels. I also recommend taking breaks to focus on yourself or your loved ones. Whether through meditating, exercising or curling up with a good book, I try to make a little time for these self-preservation activities. It has truly helped my well-being.

There is never a "perfect" time to start the pregnancy journey. Making the choice to conceive during coronavirus is personal, and everyone will have different feelings about it. Whatever choice you make, the medical community is working hard to make sure you and your baby are healthy and supported, and that the experience remains a joyous one.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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