As uncertainty surrounds the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be difficult to decide whether to conceive and what it means for prenatal care.
With the spread of a new coronavirus around the world and the halting of daily life, many big questions have emerged. One specific concern that many people are raising involves pregnancy. Should women delay getting pregnant because of this new illness? This is not a question with a simple “Yes” or “No” answer, although if you need fertility intervention, you will need to wait for now. Public health agencies in Canada have discontinued new treatments because there is a lack of information and resources on how, exactly, this illness could impact early pregnancy. Note that those who need these services can, however, receive consultations via video and telephone.
Are pregnant women more at risk?
Based on the information available now, it does not appear that pregnant women are more likely to contract Covid-19 than other groups of people. So far, when pregnant women have gotten the illness, they have not had an increased likelihood of bad outcomes–such as needing a ventilator or spending days in the hospital–compared to non-pregnant women of the same age.
In a review published in The Lancet journal of the medical records of pregnant women who were infected and gave birth in China, researchers found no signs of the virus in the amniotic fluid, breast milk or cord blood, which might indicate there is no transfer of the virus from mother to child in utero (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30360-3/fulltext).
How will prenatal care be affected?
Naturally, care for pregnant women is going to look different than it usually does in this unprecedented time. Visitors, for example, are not being allowed in many medical centers and hospitals, and partners are asked to stay home during prenatal appointments for the safety of everyone involved. Many clinics are now offering virtual and telephone appointments whenever possible, to help prevent the spread of the illness and keep everyone safer. Appointments are being reduced where possible, and in-person visits are being done only when necessary and with enhanced procedures, including screenings prior to the appointment to ensure the patient is not experiencing symptoms before entering the clinic’s exam rooms.
Speak to your prenatal care provider before you go to or have an appointment, so you know what to expect and what the changes to the clinic protocol are. If you have any questions about aspects of your care or how your appointment will work, be sure to ask your provider–they are there to help and ensure you are properly cared for during this difficult time. Many providers are now adjusting care schedules, so patients know what is going on and how their care and/or treatment plans will be changing.
If you are considering fertility treatments, the entrance of this virus onto the world’s stage does not mean your plans will be on hold forever. You can still reach out to a fertility treatment provider and learn about all of your options using telemedicine and video conferencing. Planning to add to your family is still exciting no matter what else is going on in the world, and you will need time to explore the treatments available and what they could mean to you and your family.