With health officials encouraging everyone to stay home, couples have had a lot more time and energy for intimacy. But with the recent pandemic, couples trying to conceive are left wondering if this is a safe time to bring a child into the world.
Family physician Dr. Jean Oosthuizen offers insight in this area. Below, you can read the advice that he gives to his patients who are currently pregnant or thinking about conceiving. (Dr. Oosthuizen is available for an e-consultation through the Tia Health website for family medical services.)
Reflect on the urgency of your family planning
“A mother at a more advanced age may not feel that she has the luxury to wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to level off,” says Dr. Oosthuizen. “Whereas a younger couple might wait to conceive in hopes of avoiding the added stress of preventing and managing a COVID-19 infection.”
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, routine medical appointments may be moved to an online medium or phone call instead of having patients visit the clinic. For those who are not comfortable with virtual care, now may not be the best time to get pregnant.
“Younger couples might feel that they have ample time and therefore postpone their plans for starting a family until an effective vaccine is developed,” says Dr. Oosthuizen.
Be prepared to take extra precautions
Trips to the obstetrician-gynecologist could look a little different – expect physical distancing measures and the use of personal protective equipment.
“I also advise expectant mothers to strictly follow the public health recommendations regarding social distancing, hand washing and avoiding touching one’s face,” says Dr. Oosthuizen.
Couples looking forward to a “babymoon” should also rethink the timing of their pregnancy as travel restrictions might not be lifted in time. Additionally, large group gatherings are discouraged to avoid the spread of the virus, which means that couples could have to pass on baby showers.
Make sure you can manage your stress levels
This is an exceedingly unnerving time and significant stress can impact ovulation and conception. “The effect is variable and it appears women are not affected equally,” says Dr. Oosthuizen. “Some women have better stress tolerance but learning about effective methods to manage her stress might help her to conceive sooner or have a smoother pregnancy.”
For women with poor stress tolerance, it might be wise to wait until a sense of predictability and routine returns post-pandemic.
Be ready to follow the typical prenatal care steps
Once a woman learns that they are pregnant, there are specific vitamins that they need to take and lifestyle changes that need to be implemented – pandemic or not.
“The expectant mother needs to focus on routine prenatal care, including a healthy balanced diet, prenatal vitamin regime, regular exercise, and managing stress,” says Dr. Oosthuizen. For further details on these recommendations, couples are encouraged to contact their family physician upon learning that they are expecting a baby. This can be done by scheduling an in-person appointment at a clinic or through a telehealth platform.
Canadians can e-meet with Dr. Jean Oosthuizen by scheduling an online or phone appointment through the telehealth platform Tia Health.