How to plan for an upcoming pregnancy in 2021

How to plan for an upcoming pregnancy in 2021
COVID-19 truly wreaked havoc on all of our plans. Even as restrictions lift and the vaccine becomes more widely available, we’re still being told to take the same precautions as were stated in the very beginning. However, despite the ongoing pandemic, there are some plans that not everyone can afford to put on hold—or help, for that matter. Those plans, of course, involve starting a family.
While plenty of babies were born during 2020 when the virus was rampant, many are apprehensive about trying to conceive now. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re wondering if it’s safe to become physically pregnant right now. To learn more about preparing for pregnancy this 2021—and for as long as the pandemic persists—keep reading.
Written by Orchid Team 
Medically reviewed by Cristina Vidal, RN
  • Cristina Vidal, RN, is the IVF-Donor-Surrogate nurse coordinator at Stanford Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility with over 20 years of experience in the fertility and reproductive clinic.
Orchid offers advanced genetic testing for couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. As part of our “Pregnancy and Fertility” series, we distill down your fertility treatment options and help you navigate the complex process.

How to Prepare for a Baby During the Pandemic

Whether you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant right now, you’re going to be facing more challenges than you would during a non-pandemic pregnancy. With shifting guidelines, new policies, and much uncertainty surrounding the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, you’re going to need to consider more than just adopting a limited in-home visitor policy and new hygiene practices.

Once you confirm that you are pregnant, and haven’t done so already, you’re going to want to get in touch with your OB/GYN. They are the ones who will provide you with the most up-to-date information on pregnancy planning including:

  • Prenatal appointments (in person or via telehealth)
  • Options for where your labor and delivery will be taking place
  • How many people will be allowed to accompany you in the room during labor and delivery
  • If and when to get tested for COVID-19
  • Any new policies regarding COVID-19 or general changes their practice is adopting for pregnant women

Your OB/GYN is the only one who can guide you through the specifics of your pregnancy during the pandemic, so you’ll want to pay close attention to everything they tell you.

How Covid Will Affect Your Pregnancy and Baby

Research is still in the works when it comes to COVID-19 and its effect on pregnant women. Much is still unknown about its impacts, and what we know today may very well change over the course of your pregnancy.

According to the CDC, pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness due to COVID and death in comparison to non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant women testing positive for COVID might also be at a greater risk for adverse outcomes, such as preterm births.

If you’re pregnant and test positive for COVID-19, it’s critical that you consult with your doctor right away, so that any symptoms—especially respiratory systems—can be treated quickly and appropriately. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, it’s likely that your doctor and OB/GYN will consult with a fetal medicine specialist and will want to monitor you closely throughout your pregnancy.

After the birth, if your baby is exposed to the virus, they can easily become infected. However, also according to the CDC, a mother passing the virus to her baby during pregnancy is so far, extremely rare. Either way, the healthcare staff will take the necessary steps to ensure that you and your baby are always in a sanitary and safe environment to shield you from the virus.

Some Notes on the Covid Vaccine and Pregnancy

As of right now, COVID vaccines are still new on the scene and the entire healthcare industry is learning new information regarding its impacts each day. Like most vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t expected to have any negative side effects on pregnant women or their babies and has been approved for pregnant and lactating women by the FDA.

The vaccines contain mRNA, which is known to instruct the body’s cells on what to do and how to make the natural antibodies needed to fight the virus. Therefore, the COVID vaccine is recommended for everyone, including pregnant women.

Overall, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no reason to delay pregnancy. Since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is also no reason to delay pregnancy attempts due to vaccination administration or to defer treatment until the second dose has been administered.

However, if you’re seeking fertility treatment such as IVF or IUI, it’s important to note that it is not currently recommended to schedule an embryo transfer or intrauterine insemination three days before or after getting the vaccine. This is largely due to the fact that the vaccine can come with some side effects such as a fever.

Your Pandemic Pregnancy Prep Checklist

A pregnancy during a pandemic can be overwhelming. To put your anxious mind at ease, we’ve put together a pre and postpartum checklist for you to refer to at any time:

Pre-Pregnancy Planning:
  • Make a preconception appointment with your OBGYN
  • Make an appointment with a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to conceive for up to a year with no results, or if you are over 35, after six months of not being able to conceive
  • Track your cycles. Document your periods and find out when you are ovulating using at-home ovulation kits. (Clear Blue Easy or Ovuquick are good brands)
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with consistent exercise
  • Take prenatal vitamins that contain at least 400mcg of Folic Acid
  • Practice stress and mental health management
  • Get in the habit of healthy sleep patterns
  • Attend your annual physical and dental exams
  • Quit smoking, refrain from recreational drug use, stop drinking, and limit your caffeine intake to one cup daily
  • Seek out genetic counseling and appropriate genetic screening options 
  • Avoid toxic substances and environmental contaminants. Here’s a list of potential sources of contaminants to watch out for and what you can do:  
  1. Avoid lead, mercury and cadmium exposure from certain paint and cosmetics
  2. Avoid outside activities if there’s poor air quality
  3. Eat fish 1-2 times per week and avoid fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, etc.
  4. Check local advisories on water quality in your area
  5. Avoid renovating homes built before 1978 while pregnant
  6. Avoid buying new furniture, rugs and curtains that use flame retardants such as PDBEs while pregnant
  7. Buy fragrance-free laundry, cleaners and personal care products
  8. Use alternative household cleaning products such as soap, baking soda, etc.
  9. Minimize use of plastics, canned foods, pesticides
  10. Do not microwave plastic tupperware
  11. No smoking, including second-hand exposures
  12. Phthalate-free makeup and nail polish, avoid imported cosmetics
  13. Eat organic food if possible and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly
  14. Wash thoroughly fruits and vegetables
  • Check your vaccinations or immunity to Rubella, Measles and Varicella
  • Be aware of important information released by the CDC, ACOG and ASRM related to Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccines
  • Continue to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine
  • Keep up with your OB/GYN appointments
  • Maintain your stress levels and good mental health
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly with soap
  • Avoid public places as much as possible
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with others, especially if they’re sick
  • Stay hydrated
  • Start making plans for when you take your baby home, starting with stocking up on the necessary items to limit your trips out in public
  • Avoid having visitors at your home for the first few months
  • Encourage social distancing and good hygiene when others do meet your baby
  • Ensure you have backups of your baby necessities
  • Have your partner accompany you to the postpartum pediatric appointments

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

The most important thing to remember with a pandemic pregnancy is to keep yourself healthy and your environment clean. Despite new challenges and circumstances, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy because of the virus.

We also know that everyone is on their own timeline, so it’s important for us to highlight all aspects of the family planning spectrum — here’s a guide to fertility preservation for those who want kids at a later time. In uncertain times such as now, you have the tools and resources to take charge of your fertility in a way that works the best for you.

Fertility treatment and reproductive medicine have come a long way since IVF was first introduced over 40 years ago. Today, advanced embryo testing is now available to couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. Explore how Orchid helps you conceive with confidence.
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