COVID-19 does not have to derail safe pregnancy
So, this COVID-19 thing was not a dream. We can’t wake up, even after we have passed the “PEAK,” and think things will go back to normal. In fact they may never go back to what we knew as normal before COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019).
But we must carry on. We must continue to dream of a better world, a happy life and achieving our dreams. For most of us, that involves having a family. For some of you, that was exactly what you were trying to do BEFORE shelter in place went down. So now we have to pick up the pieces, learn from the past few weeks and months, and navigate this new reality.
This is not easy. Even when we feel like we have figured it out, there remains the fear that another pandemic will occur. So, below I have made a modest attempt to help you know what to do to have a safe pregnancy during COVID-19.
A vaccine for COVID-19 will dramatically change your risk factors
This is expected to be available in late 2020 or 2021. Get your vaccine. And by the way, get your vaccine for the flu, chicken pox, rubella and measles. Reproductive Science Center has offered waivers for our patients to sign in the past. However, I think all of us will be much more ready to get our vaccines when appropriate. We will be more thankful to the R&D that went into making them available.
Get an antibody test for coronavirus
Right now, there are a few coming on the market. A positive antibody test to COVID-19 tells you that you have been exposed and are thought to be immune (to that specific virus tested). Yes, there can be a mutation creating a new coronavirus strain that you might not be immune to, you could lose your immunity, or a novel virus could outsmart your immunity. But these are much less likely. This will help you with getting pregnant safely during COVID-19.
It is essential to realize that while you may be immune, you can still pass the virus onto another individual. This can happen at the tail end of the disease process when you have started to make antibodies to the virus but while you are still shedding the last remaining virus that has invaded you. This can also happen as you touch surfaces or other people that harbor active virus and then you touch a surface or another person spreading the virus to them.
Maintain social distancing, even after restrictions are lifted
Please recognize that large group events are as risky as the people who attend them, and a one-on-one meeting can be extremely risky if that person you are meeting with is a carrier of COVID-19. The larger a group, the greater the chance that someone is present who doesn’t know they are a carrier and they could pass it onto you.
I highly doubt that the people in South Korea at the funeral thought they were contagious and wanted to spread COVID-19 to their family members and friends. Alas, large group gatherings increase your risk to acquire COVID-19 and decrease the chance that public health officials will be able to notify you that someone was present who was positive and that you are at risk.
Maybe this looks like cancelling all indoor concerts and sporting events, or sitting in airports waiting for layovers. You may only need to do this until a COVID-19 vaccine is available, but you should at least act differently at these events by practicing good hand/eye/nose hygiene.
Practice good hygiene
That brings me to my next point. From now until eternity, we need to be the hand-face police. We have probably been told since we were teenagers with acne to stop touching our faces, but this is more serious than acne. We need to carry tissues to wipe our faces or scratch an itch, to blow our noses into tissues, and to contain our coughs. The sleeve or elbow is not good enough.
Why? Because you then touch your sleeve at a later time and then touch a surface. If you use a tissue, you can throw it out. If you cannot immediately throw it out, then make a habit that your left pocket will also hold the “garbage.” In your right pocket should be your hand sanitizer. For you lefties, you can switch pockets.
Hand sanitizer: carry it with you at all times
Use this every time you:
- Come into your house and leave your house.
- Go into your car and get out of your car.
- Finish at the grocery store or pump gas.
- Open doors to restaurants.
- Before picking up a fork – or worse yet a piece of bread from the breadbasket with your hands!
You can buy the kind with lotion so your hands are not dry and cracked. Doctors have been doing this at clinics and hospitals for years with dispensers right next to doors. So, be like a doctor. Think about how many viruses pediatricians have saved themselves from just by using the sanitizer.
Do not forget the sink. Hand washing with hot water and soap, for 20 seconds of a good scrub, is always the best, especially if you see dirt or debris on your hands. Consistent hand washing and hand sanitizing will help ensure you are getting pregnant safely during COVID-19.
Avoid using your hands and have a plan
Stop using your hands to greet people or open doors. My husband has for years opened doors for me (what a gentleman) by pulling his sleeve down so as not to touch the door. It was hyper-vigilant in my mind, but now I think about how smart he was (and still is). I still would prefer a tissue that could be thrown away rather than a sleeve, but use anything other than the hand. And whether you prefer an elbow touch, a simple wave, a bow of the head, or blowing a kiss, change your greeting to those you meet.
Take off your work clothes when you get home. Some families already leave shoes at the door when entering a house. Also, consider taking off those clothes and having some house clothes that you wear. If you have been overly exposed to larger groups, take a shower with hot water, then put on your house clothes. Kids should also shower after practices or play dates and put on new clothes.
Have a sick room and/or a sick person plan. To the moms out there: no more martyrs! You must practice good preventive medicine to stop the spread, even in your own home. This may look different for different families. Is there a small room that could have a blow up bed? Could there be a shuffling of the order of the home so that the sick person can take over one room?
Educate loved ones
I’ve saved the hardest tip for last: the other person. Is that person your spouse? Your kid? Your mother-in-law? How can you convince them to abide by the above rules? You can’t. PERIOD.
So just like a marriage counselor would tell you, take care of your own failures, inconsistencies, hypocritical notions, and hope the other person follows your lead. If he or she doesn’t, then at least you will be safe since you are not touching your hands to your face and you are keeping 6 feet away.
For those with runny-nosed kids, remember that they are not nearly as affected by COVID-19 as adults. So just wipe their noses, the surfaces they play on, changes their clothes, and then wash your hands after you have played with them BEFORE you touch your face. Now take a deep breath. I know this list is long, but you are already doing much of it.
We can do this. We have to. Our future depends on it so that we can have the family we dreamed of.
- ASRM's New COVID-19 Pregnancy Guidelines
- Updated COVID-19 Statement From RSC Physicians
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- CapexMD’s Patient Financing Assistance Program During COVID-19
- Quiet Reflection: Missing Our Fertility Patients During COVID-19
- A Safe Pregnancy During COVID-19 Is Possible
- Pregnancy and COVID-19: No Evidence of Increased Risk to Moms & Babies
- Caring for Patients During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Hope During COVID-19
- What You Should Know About COVID-19 and Fertility Treatment