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by Dr. Meghan A. Nichols, MD

family planning in a covid 19 worldYou had baby names to consider, crunched the numbers financially and were already decorating the nursery in your head. 2020 was going to be your year to begin trying to get pregnant. 

And then COVID-19 struck. 

Pondering the “best” time to get pregnant is a personal decision but as the global pandemic continues, couples are left wondering if this is really the safest time to get pregnant. Many have argued that a pandemic is no time to get pregnant. In fact, in May, a survey of 2000 women found that 34% wanted to delay pregnancy or have fewer children because of COVID-19. Others have argued that we will have a baby boom due to the pandemic and couples being stuck at home, potentially having more time and energy for intimacy.

While the decision to try to conceive may be more elusive due to COVID-19, this decision is absolutely personal, and there are no right or wrong answers. However, it is important to discuss your specific health history with your ob/gyn. Underlying health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease, can increase your risk of pregnancy complications as well as the risk of poor outcomes with COVID-19. Fertility challenges also cannot be ignored and no one can guarantee that if you do choose to wait months, or years, for the pandemic to be over, that you will still be able to conceive. It is important to reflect on the urgency of your family planning. If you do decide that trying to conceive is the right choice for you - naturally or with fertility treatments - we have answered a few major pregnancy-related health questions to help guide your decision.

Would I Be High-Risk Because of My Pregnancy?

There is still a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 when it comes to pregnancy. As of now, there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. So far, COVID-19 infections don’t appear to cause congenital complications to the fetus. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnancy alone might increase your risk for severe illness.

If you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant, it is important that you are extra vigilant about necessary precautions to prevent becoming infected with COVID-19. While everyone should be careful to social distance, wash hands frequently and wear masks when around others, it is especially important that pregnant women stay safe. 

If you suffer from any medical condition like heart disease and diabetes, discuss trying to conceive with your doctor. Some medical conditions that would put you in a high-risk category for pregnancy also put you in a high-risk category for COVID-19. Pregnant women who are obese or overweight and those who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, are generally at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 that may requiring hospital admission.

What Special Precautions Should I Take if I’m Pregnant During COVID-19?

There are many safety measures you need to take when pregnant, even without a global corona pandemic, but if you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant now, consider the following precautions:

  • Be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing.
  • Avoid anyone who has any sign of COVID-19 symptoms. Not just by 6 feet, but entirely. 
  • Know the main symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath). If you are worried you have symptoms, seek medical advice immediately.
  • Eat a balanced healthy diet. 
  • Take your prenatal vitamin daily to support a healthy pregnancy.
  • Stay active and engaged in regular exercise. Walking in a less crowded place is encouraged, especially outdoors.
  • You should continue to be mobile and well hydrated to avoid the risk of developing blood clots during the pregnancy.
  • Attend your prenatal appointments and pregnancy scans regularly, unless your obstetrician advises differently. 
  • Don’t hesitate to contact your Ob/Gyn whenever you are concerned about your wellbeing, whether it’s COVID-19 related or not. 

Couples looking forward to getting away for a “babymoon” should rethink the timing as travel restrictions are unpredictable. Plus, large group gatherings are discouraged, so gender reveal parties and baby showers need to be virtual.

Will I Have Access to Healthcare and Will I Receive the Same Level of Care?

The simple answer is yes, of course. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) state that pregnant women should not skip prenatal or postpartum appointments. However, while prenatal care is essential and available, healthcare is looking a little different nowadays. Telehealth was widely used during the beginning of the pandemic, but some insurers are no longer authorizing telehealth visits so make sure to confirm coverage before requesting your virtual visit. At Kansas City ObGyn we know how much you value your office visits and want you to know how we’re safely seeing patients like you. We are taking the following extra precautions to keep you and your baby safe:

  • Temperature screening all patients and visitors
  • Temperature screening of staff and providers daily
  • Masks are required in our office
  • One visitor is allowed to accompany each patient
  • No children are allowed
  • Additional socially distanced seating is available in our office and hallway 

Providing you with quality, compassionate care in a safe environment is of utmost importance to us, especially during this difficult and unprecedented time. 

What Are The Economic Concerns?

While financial issues are very individual, economic struggles due to the impact of COVID-19 are a global concern. Even if you or your partner’s job has not been affected by the pandemic, it’s important to plan how you will manage the cost of a baby during lockdown measures and potential job loss.

At Kansas City ObGyn we understand that family planning can be a delicate process, even without a global pandemic. We are here for you to discuss trying to conceive and being pregnant in a COVID-19 world. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at (913) 735-1344 or by email.

Dr. Meghan A. Nichols, MD is a physician at Kansas City ObGyn. She graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City accelerated undergraduate and medical school program, then completed a four-year Ob/Gyn residency. Dr. Nichols is married with two children.