Please note that the following information was accurate and up to date as of Saturday, March 28th. The information available to the public is changing at a rapid pace, and by the time this post is published, some data may no longer be relevant.
Please proceed with caution, while noting that I am not a medical professional. I can guide you on health and wellness-based information; however, when it comes to your body and your pregnancy, please discuss all concerns with your own medical team.
Over the next three months, nearly a million women in the United States will give birth to nearly a million babies.
Read that again.
Nearly ONE MILLION babies over the next three months.
And we still aren’t sure how COVID-19 will affect those mamas and babies.
Let’s start with what we do know:
During pregnancy, changes in the immune system make women generally more susceptible to respiratory infections. While there is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women are included in those thought to be at high risk for COVID-19, my thought is that, regardless, you should treat yourself as if you can become infected.
Therefore, my number one recommendation for all pregnant mamas and anyone TTC is to keep your immune system healthy and in tip-top shape. Here are my favorite ways to eat, live, and supplement to optimize your immune health so you can stay healthy during these very uncertain days.
These recommendations are for you, your children, your partner, your parents, and all your loved ones. The entire household should be supplementing with these nutrients to optimize immune system health.
Something else that we know? This pandemic will likely be affecting us for MONTHS.
But my world revolves around fertility, pregnancy, and hormones. I don’t want you to feel as if your fertility is going to have to hit the pause button because, the reality is, there are a lot of changes that you can be making NOW to help improve and optimize your fertility during this pandemic.
The good news? I’ve reduced the pricing on my 12-week protocol – The Fertility Code! I expect this pandemic is going to lead to a lot of sexy time, so let’s make it count*.
* if, and only if, you want to get pregnant. Otherwise, please use hormone-free protection!
The Fertility Code is a 12-week protocol designed to increase your fertility health and prepare your body for conception and a graceful journey into a healthy, full-term pregnancy. Each week a new module is introduced, building upon each other so you’re just getting the core essentials of what to do RIGHT NOW, and the exact next steps to take each week. The 12 modules cover everything you need to know to optimize your hormones, support your gut, thyroid & adrenal health, reduce the toxins in your environment that are robbing your fertility, learn how to move your body in a way that supports conception, incorporate the best mind/body therapies to optimize your chances of success, understand exactly what supplements and nutrients you should be using and why quality matters the most here, how to utilize conscious conception techniques to shift thought patterns and behaviors to create space in your life for a baby to come in, and SO MUCH MORE. Whew!
Each module covers the Science so you understand the WHY, and the Solution laid out in easy-to-implement steps so you can execute the HOW.
You’ll have access to tons of done-for-you resources like cycle tracking tools, a daily fertility checklist, shopping lists, recipes, meal ideas, a daily supplement menu, and a ton more.
Research shows that what you eat and how you live ABSOLUTELY determines how fertile you are, but you need a plan of action that works. The Fertility Code is exactly that ;).
Ok, let’s breakdown how COVID-19 affects you, your fertility, your pregnancy, and your newborn.
There is still very limited research on the effect of the virus on pregnant women and their babies – the number of pregnant women who have contracted COVID-19 and have subsequently delivered is small.
As of now, research states “There is no evidence that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant. There is also no evidence that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.”
For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19.
The studies have only been done on women in their third trimester that have tested positive for COVID-19 and then looking at their babies – all babies have been healthy thus far. But, of course, there is no research yet on women in early pregnancy or second trimester testing positive for COVID and then giving birth, because it’s still too early to study these effects.
If you develop coronavirus symptoms while pregnant – don’t stay quiet about it. If there is a potential exposure or suspicious symptom or if you would fit into a category that you should be tested, reach out to your personal physician and see if you should have testing done.
Should a pregnant woman become infected with COVID-19 prior to giving birth, priority is given to ensuring the baby doesn’t receive it while the mother recovers from it.
Unfortunately, the current recommendation is to separate newborns from their mothers and not to promote breastfeeding. Instead, moms are encouraged to pump or hand express breast milk and bottle feed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the following recommendation for mothers with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis or under investigation for COVID-19: “Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and health care providers.”
The CDC states “we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.”
Some more good news: So far, there have been no reports of COVID-19-related maternal deaths.
There is a new prenatal course of action that has been outlined by the World Health Organization. It is a more spaced out schedule of in-person visits augmented with telemedicine calls/videos. This is to reduce the exposure of both practitioner and patient, and ultimately to protect mama and baby.
So although women are strongly encouraged to keep all current prenatal visits, many of these visits will now be done by telemedicine, in addition to a select number of appointments still being done in-person for physical assessments such as ultrasounds, blood pressure, bloodwork, etc.
Note: this is the recommendation for healthy, low risk pregnancies. High-risk pregnancies can look different.
For more details about what higher-risk women can expect, here’s a recently published expert review and guidance from maternal-fetal specialists in the U.S. and Italy.
If you’re currently pregnant, the birthing experience you expected pre-COVID-19 is going be very different from the one you actually get. It’s likely that our postpartum period will be even more isolated and stressful than it otherwise would have been. Obstetric providers are having to reinvent maternity care in real time to protect you and your baby as well as themselves. As face-to-face encounters have become more challenging, it’s more important than ever that you keep in close contact with your care team, especially as you approach your due date.
Whether you test positive for COVID or are still only a “person under investigation,” when you go into labor, you’re likely to be placed in a negative pressure room (one whose ventilation system is sealed off from the rest of the facility), attended by a limited number of providers wearing (hopefully) the full complement of personal protective equipment.
In the reported cases from China, almost all the women who delivered after testing positive had cesarean sections, but the C-section rate in that country is generally higher than in the US; here, the type of delivery will likely depend on your symptoms, your doctor, and your medical facility.
The CDC has recommended that these moms and newborns be segregated for at least 14 days, either in a separate isolation room or, if that’s not possible, by a curtain in her room that keeps the baby at least 6 feet away. (If the COVID-19 test comes back negative, the separation order will end.)
However, the WHO and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are taking a softer approach, not saying that women and babies should be automatically separated. US hospitals are setting their own policies, depending on available resources and the number of local cases; women should talk with their providers ahead of time to understand what’s likely to happen and make their family preferences known.
Because the virus doesn’t seem to be transmitted through milk, breastfeeding isn’t just possible, it’s desirable; as the WHO notes, “Close contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding help a baby to thrive.” However, many providers recommend that new mothers be well-scrubbed and masked (some hospitals may urge infected women to pump). Until she recovers, a mother may be asked to designate their partner or close relative to handle the bulk of newborn care like bathing, diapering and skin-to-skin cuddling.
Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, here’s something you can do ahead of time, lactation consultants suggest: contact your doctor and insurer to order a pump, a covered benefit for most new moms, so you have it on hand when the time comes. And, it goes without saying, be extra vigilant about keeping it clean.
Real talk: probably not.
Many fertility clinics are closing, or have already closed. Many of my clients have had their fertility cycles cancelled only days away from an IVF transfer, egg retrieval, IUI, etc.
This is heartbreaking and frustrating for the women who have been preparing and prepping for these cycles for months, but at this point – this is another example of so many situations that are out of our control and the government is doing what they can to stop the spread of this virus.
On March 17, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommended that fertility clinics and doctors suspend all new treatment cycles during the COVID-19 crisis, including in vitro fertilization, intrauterine inseminations and egg freezing.
Providers should “strongly consider cancelation of all embryo transfers whether fresh or frozen,” the society said.
It also urged IVF clinics to do what other providers are doing: suspend nonurgent surgeries and diagnostic procedures, minimize in-person interactions and increase their use of telehealth.
Under the guidelines, patients who are currently “in-cycle” or who require urgent egg stimulation — for example, because they’re about to undergo chemotherapy or radiation for cancer that could leave them infertile — could theoretically continue treatment; however, many clinics have been taking a hard line, even stopping treatments for women who were on the verge of an embryo transfer.
So unfortunately even if you wanted to start IVF currently, you’re not able to.
Many fertility clinics are closed, and those that remain open are only continuing cycles for a select number of women.
And honestly, in my personal opinion, I’d say given the lack of information about so many aspects of COVID and pregnancy and birth, it might be best to just hold tight. We don’t know what a COVID infection in the first trimester does, we don’t know how long this crisis is going to go on, so honestly holding off on your IVF or other fertility-treatment cycles is maybe a really good idea.
The ASRM intends to reassess its stance by the end of March.
Honestly, my best answer to this question is that if you are currently traveling abroad and you get pregnant, I would advise you to STAY PUT if at all possible and social distance.
Airports and airplanes are one of the hottest spots for transmission of the virus so if you can avoid these places – DO IT.
Obviously if you need to get home, then take every precaution possible to protect yourself while traveling.
Stay safe. Wash your hands, cover your mouth.
Meditate for a few minutes each morning.
Learn new recipes. Use less toilet paper.
Take care of those weak or alone or without resources.
Go for long walks, bike rides, hikes, in nature (if you can).
Play games. Heal. Reflect. Garden.
Please reach out if you have questions or need support. I am always available to have a one on one chat.
Sending everyone love from the SJS team!