1. Getting pregnant
  2. Planning for pregnancy
  3. Preconception planning

Flo Fact-Checking Standards

Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

Getting Pregnant During Coronavirus: Things to Know If You’re Planning To Have a Baby During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a confusing time, and experts are still learning more about the new coronavirus each day. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, you’re probably concerned about potential health risks the pandemic poses to you or your baby. In this Flo article, we’ve compiled the latest research and guidelines on having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic, so keep reading!

Deciding if and when to start or expand a family is a very personal decision. During a pandemic, recommendations to delay pregnancy are complex and raise lots of ethical questions.

Nevertheless, experts say that pregnant people are at higher risk than nonpregnant people of getting severely ill, needing to go to an intensive care unit, being put on a ventilator, or dying from a COVID-19 infection. While there’s a very small chance of transferring COVID-19 to your baby during pregnancy, there isn’t any evidence that COVID causes birth defects. What has been found, however, is a higher chance of preterm birth and admittance to neonatal ICU for babies born to someone who has COVID.

It’s important to take steps to keep yourself safe from COVID infection, like practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands regularly, whether or not you plan on having a baby during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the U.S., a 2020 survey by the Guttmacher Institute of 2,009 cisgender women aged 18–49 found that 34 percent of participants wanted to wait to get pregnant or have fewer children because of the pandemic, while 17 percent actually wanted to have a baby sooner.

A different survey of 504 women (mostly living in the U.K.) published in the Women’s Health Rep (New Rochelle) journal in March 2021 showed that 92 percent were still planning to get pregnant, but 72 percent of those are deliberately postponing pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the EU, data shows that around 50 percent of people in Germany and France who were planning on having a baby in 2020 decided to delay it, while 37 percent of people in Italy abandoned the plan altogether.

OB-GYN experts from UT Southwestern Medical Center say that people who are in reasonably good health and can manage the financial and emotional challenges that the pandemic has caused shouldn’t let COVID get in the way of their family planning.

At the same time, physiological changes during pregnancy can affect the immune system and body, which can affect how COVID-19 progresses if you get it. Additionally, the impact of COVID on pregnancy hasn’t been fully explored yet. And there might be other indirect consequences of the pandemic that can affect a pregnant person’s health, such as restrictions in access to reproductive health services, socioeconomic factors, and mental health challenges.

Even before the virus outbreak, people were advised to speak with their provider and have a preconception checkup when planning a pregnancy.

Underlying health conditions like diabetes or heart disease can increase the risk of certain pregnancy complications, fertility problems, and severe complications from COVID-19. Additionally, general changes in the body make pregnant people more susceptible to respiratory issues and viral infection. It’s also common to have mental health issues during or after pregnancy, and these have increased due to pandemic-related stress.

Worldwide, many practices are spacing out or reducing the number of visits and utilizing telehealth to minimize traffic in the office and reduce the risk of disease spread. World Health Organization guidelines on maintaining essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic suggest using telehealth and supporting self-care interventions whenever possible.

In the first months of the outbreak in the U.S., the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the European Society of Human Reproduction guidelines limited fertility treatment and clinical consultations, but they have now been resumed with strict hygiene procedures. 

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that about one in 10 prenatal care visits in 2020 switched to telehealth, with the majority of those done over the phone. Many pregnancy and postpartum visits switched to video conferencing in Europe, including family planning and breastfeeding courses. In South Asia, lots of health clinics have shut down and suspended services, but countries are refocusing efforts to continue and restore these essential services.

Speak with your health care provider about how your visits may be changed due to the pandemic and the steps they’re taking to keep patients safe if you don’t feel like going to the office in person.

If you’re hoping to conceive, be sure to maintain a balanced diet and take prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

According to the CDC, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re trying to get pregnant. There’s no evidence that shows that any vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility issues or problems trying to get pregnant. Generally, it’s also fine to get pregnant after the full course of vaccination. Because the subject is not fully explored yet, and there isn’t a definite agreement on this point, it's important to consult your health care provider about how soon is optimal to get pregnant after you’re fully vaccinated. A health care provider may suggest waiting at least two weeks after the second shot (if you get a two-shot vaccine), or they may suggest checking your blood level of antibodies to be sure that you had a sufficient immune response.

Data on the impact of vaccines on pregnant people is still limited but is growing as more research comes out. A study from April 2021 that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed no safety issues for women nor their babies from the mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines.

Choosing when and if to get vaccinated is everyone’s individual decision, and experts recommend discussing it with your provider if you have questions or concerns.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on our daily lives and many people’s family planning decisions. Current official guidelines do not recommend delaying or avoiding pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the choice to start trying to get pregnant is very personal. Talk with your provider about your general health and the timing that would be best for you to try to have a baby. Although it’s currently thought that the prognosis for someone who’s pregnant and has COVID isn’t different or necessarily worse than the prognosis for people who aren’t pregnant, it's still crucial to monitor your health during pregnancy and keep an eye out for symptoms, especially if they’re respiratory.

Rasmussen M.D., Sonja A. et al. “Delaying Pregnancy during a Public Health Crisis — Examining Public Health Recommendations for Covid-19 and Beyond.” N Engl J Med, vol. 383, 26 Nov. 2020, pp. 2097-2099, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2027940, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2027940

Flynn, Angela C. “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pregnancy Planning Behaviors.” Womens Health Rep (New Rochelle), vol. 2, no. 1, Mar. 2021, pp. 71-77, doi: 10.1089/whr.2021.0005, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8006747/

Lindberg, Laura D. et al. “Early Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from the 2020 Guttmacher Survey of Reproductive Health Experiences.” Guttmacher Institute, June 2020, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/early-impacts-covid-19-pandemic-findings-2020-guttmacher-survey-reproductive-health

Horsager-Boehrer M.D., Robyn. “Is it safe to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic?” UT Southwestern Medical Center, 29 July 2020, https://utswmed.org/medblog/safe-pregnancy-covid19/#:~:text=The%20Centers%20for%20Disease%20Control,than%20nonpregnant%20women%20their%20age.

Roberton, Timothy et al. “Early estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study.” Lancet Glob Health, vol. 8, 12 May 2020. https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langlo/PIIS2214-109X(20)30229-1.pdf

“Pregnancy or Breastfeeding.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 May 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html#:~:text=People%20who%20would%20like%20to,problems%20trying%20to%20get%20pregnant.

Shimabukuro MD, Tom T. et al. “Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 21 Apr. 2021, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2104983, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2104983

Dashraath, Pradip et al. “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and pregnancy.” Am J Obstet Gynecol. Vol. 222, no. 6, June 2020, pp. 521-531, doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2020.03.021, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32217113/

Schirmer, Austin et al. “Fertility care amidst the COVID19 pandemic: the American experience.” Journal of Ovarian Research, vol. 14, no. 34, 18 Feb. 2021, https://ovarianresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13048-021-00782-4

Miller, Korin. “Should You Still Go to Prenatal Appointments During the Pandemic?” What to Expect, 11 Feb. 2021, https://www.whattoexpect.com/news/pregnancy/prenatal-appointments-during-coronavirus/

Hollier MD, Lisa. “Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients.” American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 30 April 2021, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Getting pregnant. Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count.” Mayo Clinic, 25 April 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/female-fertility/art-20045887#:~:text=Various%20medical%20issues%20can%20contribute,problems%20(hyperthyroidism%20or%20hypothyroidism).

Luppi, Francesca et al. “The impact of COVID-19 on fertility plans in Italy, Germany, France, Spain and UK.” SocArXiv Papers, doi: 10.31235/osf.io/wr9jb, https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/wr9jb/

“Maintaining essential health services: operations guidance for the COVID-19 context interim guidance.” World Health Organization, 1 June 2020, https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-essential-health-services-2020.1

“New report looks at uptake of telehealth in antenatal care during COVID-19 lockdowns.” Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 23 Feb 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/2021-1/february/new-report-looks-at-uptake-of-telehealth-in-antena
“Disruptions in health services due to COVID-19 ‘may have contributed to an additional 239,000 child and maternal deaths in South Asia’ - UN report.” UNICEF, 17 March 2021, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/disruptions-health-services-due-covid-19-may-have-contributed-additional-239000

“Coronavirus and pregnancy - preserving maternal health across the European Region.” World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe, 30 June 2020, https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Life-stages/maternal-and-newborn-health/news/news/2020/6/coronavirus-and-pregnancy-preserving-maternal-health-across-the-european-region

Wastnedge, Elizabeth A. N., et al. “Pregnancy and COVID-19.” Physiological Reviews, 20 Nov. 2020, journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00024.2020.
Mirbeyk, M., Saghazadeh, A. & Rezaei, N. A systematic review of pregnant women with COVID-19 and their neonates. Arch Gynecol Obstet 304, 5–38 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-021-06049-z

Read this next