Should You Stop Trying to Get Pregnant Because of COVID-19?

Key Takeaways

  • Pandemic or not, knowing when it's the right time to have a baby is a personal decision; there is no right or wrong answer.
  • It's important to consider your personal circumstances and medical history.
  • Discuss with your doctor if you have any COVID-19-related health concerns that are keeping you from wanting to conceive.

If you have been considering starting or expanding your family, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely caused you to reevaluate your plans—or at least contemplate them again in a new light.

Sure, many people are joking that with so many couples quarantining at home, there is likely to be a post-pandemic baby boom, but you may be wondering if now really is the best time to get pregnant. Are there added risks that you need to consider?

Given the uncertainty of the short term future, there is a lot to think about. We consulted with several different MDs about this very topic—and their insights should prove helpful as you make the best decision for your family.

Is Now a Good Time to Get Pregnant?

First of all, it’s important to note that there is no one right answer here. Everyone is different and has different life circumstances to contend with. It is best to make this decision along with your partner, and with the guidance of your doctor or midwife.

“This is a very personal question that each woman has to answer herself (or with a partner),” says Eduardo Hariton, MD, an OB/GYN and clinical fellow at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Hariton points out that, as of now, there are no national guidelines recommending that couples stop trying to conceive.

Eduardo Hariton, MD

That said, it is a time of personal, social, financial, and emotional uncertainty, so some may choose to delay their plans and get more information.

— Eduardo Hariton, MD

Factors to Consider

Your Age

Your age may be a key factor to weigh as you make this decision.

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University, says that in general, the younger you are, the more advisable it may be to delay getting pregnant—and vice versa.

“If a woman is older, say 42 years old, and time is of the essence, she may well want to continue to work on getting pregnant,” says Dr. Minkin. “But if you are younger, you may just want to wait a bit for things to clarify.”

Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Advisor at Proov, advises that women over the age of 35 may not want to wait to try conceiving and that these women should consult with their doctors to figure out what makes the most sense for them.

Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

If you're over 35 and don't already have one baby, and want to have two, waiting longer may not be a good idea because of your age.

— Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD

Your Job

Your place of work can have an impact on your risk of contracting COVID-19, so that’s something to consider as well.

“If you're working in a high-risk setting: health care worker, grocery store clerk, for example, it may be a good idea to ask for work accommodations if you are pregnant and if you can't get them, then make the decision that's best for you and choose one or the other,” advises Dr. Eyvazzadeh.

You may also want to consider whether your employer will let you work from home, because being able to do is is one of the primary ways to keep yourself safe during a pandemic.

“If you're the breadwinner of your family and your boss won't let you work from home, then it may be better to wait,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh suggests.

Your Pregnancy Risk Factors

Dr. Eyvazzadeh advises that women who have a history of high risk pregnancies or who have medical factors that put them at risk, should not consider getting pregnant at this time. Of course, you should speak to your doctor about what your particular risk factors are, and how they may impact your pregnancy at this time. Again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach here.

Accessibility to Prenatal Care

Another thing to consider is how this pandemic might impact your accessibility to medical care.

COVID-19 isn’t just affecting people who become ill with the virus—it’s impacting entire medical systems in some areas, as well as how medicine is practiced in general.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the reallocation of medical resources,” explains Dr. Hariton. “We don’t know what prenatal care access is going to look like during this pandemic, and while prenatal care is and will always be essential, it may be more difficult to access during this time.”

In addition, says Dr. Hariton, you’ll want to consider how the pandemic may impact your labor and delivery experience. Many hospitals are placing limits on the number of visitors a laboring mom can have, for example. If a potential second or third wave of increased infections arises in the coming months, some of these restrictions may still be in place.

What Is COVID-19’s Impact on Pregnant Moms and Babies?

As you make this decision, you will also want to educate yourself on the impact that the virus may have on your pregnancy, your own health, and the health of your baby.

Unfortunately, the data we have so far is somewhat limited, as this is a brand new virus.

“We do not currently know if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result,” explains the CDC.

However, many of the signs so far point to pregnant women not having more severe cases of COVID-19 than the general public.

“Based on available information, pregnant people seem to have the same risk as adults who are not pregnant,” the CDC adds.

A few small studies seem to confirm this theory. For example, a March 2020 study published in Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, which analyzed the COVID-19 virus in 38 pregnant women, found that COVID-19 did not cause maternal death, nor was there evidence of mother-to-baby transmission in utero.

“Unlike coronavirus infections of pregnant women caused by SARS and MERS, in these 38 pregnant women COVID-19 did not lead to maternal deaths,” explain the study researchers. “Importantly, and similar to pregnancies with SARS and MERS, there were no confirmed cases of intrauterine transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from mothers with COVID-19 to their fetuses.”

Dr. Minkin agrees that we have reason to be cautiously optimistic. She points that that although pregnant women don’t seem to get sicker with COVID-19 than other healthy adults, it’s important to understand that being pregnant in general presents you with increased risk.

Mary Jane Minkin, MD

Pregnant women do have sort of ‘less room to expand their lungs’ as they have a baby inside pushing up their diaphragms—so some women just have a tougher time breathing by the end of a pregnancy.

— Mary Jane Minkin, MD

In addition, Dr. Minkin says that although there is no evidence COVID-19 causes miscarriage, persistent fevers can be problematic for pregnant women in their first trimester.

As Dr. Minkin sees it, all of these factors may be reason to consider delaying trying to conceive. “I tend to think that waiting a few months would be ideal, [until] we get some more information for women—we will know much more about this disease soon,” she offers.

What Should You Do If You've Been Trying for a While?

A couple who has been trying for a while to get pregnant without success, or who has known fertility issues, will have other factors to consider as they make their decision.

“If you have been trying for more than 12 months, or 6 months if over 35, you should seek an evaluation from a fertility specialist,” says Dr. Hariton. A fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist can help you weigh your options given the current circumstances.

Dr. Hariton points out that the American Society of Reproductive Medicine has published new guidelines in light of the pandemic, which include delaying all non-urgent fertility treatments so that medical resources can be conserved, and to slow the spread of the virus.

“Nonetheless, many clinics are offering telemedicine evaluations and I encourage women who are in this situation to seek those out and get the process started,” Dr. Hariton advises. “If you are already under the care of a fertility specialist, reach out to your physician to see how their policies have changed in the setting of COVID-19.”

What to Know About Assisted Reproduction

Unfortunately, if you are considering using assisted reproduction—such as IVF, embryo transfers, or are planning on being a donor or surrogate—your options may be very limited at this time.

On March 17, 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued specific guidelines concerning assisted reproduction in the time of COVID-19. Here’s what the guidelines stipulate:

  • Any new, non-urgent assisted reproduction treatments should be halted. These include, as described by ASRM: “ovulation induction, intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), in vitro fertilization (IVF) including retrievals and frozen embryo transfers, as well as non-urgent gamete cryopreservation.”
  • ASRM is asking healthcare providers to “strongly consider” ending embryo transfers (fresh and frozen)
  • If you are in the middle of an assisted reproductive cycle, your care can continue. Patients who require “urgent stimulation and cryopreservation” may also continue to receive medical attention.
  • ASRM has also recommended that all elective surgeries and non-emergency diagnostic procedures be discontinued. Instead, assisted reproductive specialists are urged to use telehealth services.

This can come as a blow to anyone who has been eagerly waiting to begin assisted reproduction treatment. But it’s important to understand that these guidelines are ultimately in place for everyone’s safety.

It’s also important to keep in mind that these guidelines will likely change as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.

ASRM explains that their recommendation “will be revisited periodically as the pandemic evolves,” and that their goal is to resume assisted reproductive treatments “as soon and as safely as possible.” It is worth continuing to check back with ASRM for updated information—and of course, to periodically check in with your doctor for updates and advice.

How to Handle Changed Pregnancy Plans

Some couples will come to the conclusion that trying to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic is the right choice for them. But others will decide to delay getting pregnant, either because of a doctor recommendation, or because of an inaccessibility to medical treatments such as assisted reproduction.

If you make the choice to delay, it’s natural that you will feel disappointed—and you are allowed to feel that way. It can be really upsetting to see your plans change so quickly, and for the decision to feel like it’s out of your control.

Dr. Minkin urges anyone who is feeling let down to try to see the silver lining in all this. Even if you come to the conclusion that this isn’t the right time to try to conceive, it may be a great opportunity for you to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy down the road. This way, says Dr. Minkin, you can stop feeling like you are “wasting your time” while you wait.

Here are some healthy habits that Dr. Minkin suggest you focus on:

  • Start taking a prenatal vitamin. Make sure it has folic acid, which decreases your baby’s chance of being born with neural tube defects.
  • Work on maintaining healthy eating habits and exercising.
  • If you smoke, work on quitting.

Considering pregnancy during a pandemic is not something any of us signed up for! If you are feeling lost, frustrated, scared, or disappointed, that is completely understandable. Just a few weeks ago, the world looked a lot different than it does right now, and everyone’s hopes and dreams had to be altered suddenly, and without much warning. If you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you, you are not alone.

It can be particularly heartbreaking if your plans have had to be quickly altered, especially if you feel like you are in a time crunch—that your biological clock is ticking and that you don’t have even a few months to spare. The crushing disappointment of not being able to start an IVF cycle, or your fears about giving birth during the COVID-19 epidemic, can unleash a lot of upsetting and intense feelings.

What This Means For You

If you are having troubling process the impact COVID-19 is having on your pregnancy plans, you might consider talking to a therapist or counselor—many of whom are offering telemedicine services at this time. You can also contact your doctor or midwife for support and to answer any questions you may have about this constantly evolving situation.

The point is that your feelings are normal, completely valid—and that help is out there to help you process them, and feel better.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schwartz DA. An analysis of 38 pregnant women with covid-19, their newborn infants, and maternal-fetal transmission of sars-cov-2: maternal coronavirus infections and pregnancy outcomes. Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 2020 Mar 17. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2020-0901-SA.

Additional Reading
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). ASRM Issues New Guidance on Fertility Care During COVID-19 Pandemic: Calls for Suspension of Most Treatments. Mar 17, 2020.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy & Breastfeeding. Updated April 3, 2020.