Pregnancy During A Pandemic

During this time of uncertainty and chartering new waters with COVID-19 and pregnancy, it is very natural for expectant parents to be anxious about how the illness could affect their pregnancies and the health of their newborns.   With much still unknown about COVID-19 and pregnancy, researchers hope the nationwide PRIORITY study will provide some answers.  In this blog by Cary L. Dicken, MD of Sher Fertility Institute New York,  she aims to alleviate your concerns and give you some information that you feel is helpful and informative during these confusing times.

She reiterates that the risks of acquiring the coronavirus in the 1st trimester are not known and will not be known for some time (ASRM).   At this time, not much is known about the effects of COVID-19 in pregnancy, but in limited cases it appears that the symptoms are identical and equal in severity with non-pregnant women.

  • Women who are not currently pregnant but wish to be:  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine does NOT recommend preventing pregnancy during this pandemic, but they do make it clear that becoming pregnant during a pandemic has inherent risk.  Bottom line – if you do not have COVID-19, there is no medical reason to change your plans to conceive.
  • Women who test positive for COVID-19 and want to get pregnant:  It has become clear that this infection can last for weeks.  Because being pregnant is a risk factor for more severe illness, it is wise to wait until you no longer have symptoms to try to conceive.
  • Women hoping to get pregnant, but with known infertility:
  • Women who are pregnant:  We recommend proceeding with prenatal care as usual.  You should adhere to CDC guidelines to prevent contracting the coronavirus – this includes proper hand hygiene, social distancing, avoid people who are sick or may have been exposed, and the use of face masks.

What should pregnant women do to avoid the coronavirus? The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. Pregnant women can take the same steps as other people to protect themselves, including

  • washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • cleaning hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • staying home as much as possible
  • staying at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
  • avoiding people who are sick

Because COVID-19 is such a novel infection, there is very limited data on the impact of the virus on a fetus.  Data from a small number of pregnant women have not detected COVID-19 in newborns, amniotic fluid or umbilical cord blood of infected mothers.  Previous studies of similar viral infections demonstrate similar findings and support that the infection does not pass directly to the unborn fetus.  While this limited data is encouraging, the COVID-19 infection was recently found in a newborn, so passage of the virus from mother to baby during birth cannot be excluded.  Pregnant women have been shown to be asymptomatic carriers just like much of the general population.  Proper protection during childbirth is therefore recommended to prevent exposure to the newborn.  Some pregnancy complications have been reported in newborns born to mothers with COVID-19, such as preterm delivery and low birth weight.  It is not clear whether these adverse outcomes are due to maternal infection.

If you have any questions and would like a consultation, we are excited to announce that Sher Fertility Institute New York is offering telemedicine consultations for new and established patients.  Schedule your appointment by contacting Sher Fertility Institute New York at 646-792-7476 or click here to schedule an appointment.