If you’re thinking about having a baby, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may have created questions about when it’s safe to become pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), there’s no clear reason at this time that women need to delay getting pregnant because of COVID-19. However, many things are still unknown about the risks to mom and baby during pregnancy.
What if I decide to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Begin focusing on your preconception health at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant. If you have chronic health conditions that may affect a pregnancy, you may need longer to get your body ready to have a baby.
Before getting pregnant:
- Schedule a preconception checkup.
- Take a daily multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine in your baby.
- Get to a healthy weight. Eat healthy foods and get active every day.
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or abuse street or prescription drugs. All of these can harm your baby.
What is a preconception checkup?
A preconception checkup is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. Your health care provider makes sure you’re healthy and that your body is ready for pregnancy. Get one even if you’ve had a baby before. Your health may have changed since you were last pregnant.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be a delay in setting a preconception checkup or you may have to see your provider by telehealth. However, don’t leave your preconception checkup out of planning for a baby. The preconception checkup allows time to discuss your family health history and address any preexisting health conditions with your provider.
Family health history
Your family health history is a record of health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and your families have had. Start putting your family health history together and share it with your provider at your preconception checkup. Use the March of Dimes Family Health History Form to gather information. Include if you have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19.
Your family health history can help your provider:
- Identify health conditions that run in your or your partner’s family like sickle cell disease.
- Treat health conditions before pregnancy like depression, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
- Find the cause of a condition in a past pregnancy like a premature birth, a baby with birth defects, a miscarriage, or a stillbirth.
Choosing a health care provider
If you can, get your preconception checkup with the provider you have chosen for your prenatal care. You can choose from several kinds of doctors and nurses to take care of you during pregnancy and deliver your baby.
Other things to discuss during your preconception checkup
- Birth control is usually stopped or removed by your provider a few months before trying to get pregnant. Continue to use your birth control until you are ready to become pregnant.
- Stress and anxiety are common during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find ways to manage before you get pregnant.
- Healthy relationships are important when planning to have a baby. If you are or have been emotionally or physically abused by your partner contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)799-SAFE or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- Regular dental checkups. Tell your dentist you’re planning to get pregnant. Some studies show a link between gum disease and premature or low-birthweight babies.
- Fertility treatment guidance. If you or your partner are receiving treatment for infertility, ask your provider if it’s necessary to start or stop your treatment and how to do it safely.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Discuss with your provider any medicine that you use. Ask if they are safe to use. Don’t stop taking any prescription medicine without your provider’s OK.
Where can I get health insurance for my preconception checkup?
Health insurance is important when planning to have a baby. Depending on the amount of money you make each year, you may be able to get insurance from:
- Your employer or your partner’s employer
- A private insurance company
- Government programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
- Your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace where you can compare plans online.
Being healthy before pregnancy can help improve your chances of getting pregnant and it can help prevent pregnancy complications. Visit your health care provider and discuss how to manage your health conditions and what things you need to do to help your baby be born healthy. Whether you decided to have a baby now or not, make an informed decision based on your personal beliefs and values. And remember having a healthy baby starts before you get pregnant.