Your Maternity Journey Vol. 4

Getting Pregnant in a Pandemic—Perfectly Conceivable

Timing is a major factor in planning a pregnancy. Perhaps you just took a new job and want to hold off for a few months. Maybe you already have a baby and would prefer to wait so you don’t have two kids in diapers. Or you could be reaching an age where fertility is becoming a concern and you’d like to get pregnant as soon as possible. Regardless of when you would like to start trying to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to wait until you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Even in the healthiest of women, pregnancy suppresses the immune system. That’s why, according to the CDC, pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at an increased risk for severe illness and hospitalization. In addition, they face a higher risk for pregnancy complications, including preterm birth. Waiting to conceive until you’re fully vaccinated makes a lot of sense, and you can rest assured that COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. You can also get vaccinated during your pregnancy. MarinHealth, in alignment with UCSF Health, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, recommends that pregnant women have access to the vaccine. If you’re still on the fence, talk with your OB/GYN or primary care doctor.

Of course, you’ll want to take other precautions besides getting vaccinated. Continue to wear a mask, avoid crowded places, and practice social distancing. Practice good hygiene, including washing your hands frequently. Get enough good quality sleep, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and aim for at least 3 hours or more of exercise every week. Visit your doctor and make sure all of your immunizations (not just COVID-19) and recommended screenings are current. These habits and proactive steps will help keep your immune system strong during the pandemic and ensure you are as healthy as possible when you get pregnant.

If you are ready to get pregnant, rest assured that MarinHealth has taken special precautions to keep you and your baby safe during your pregnancy, through delivery, and beyond.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions for Labor and Delivery

At MarinHealth Medical Center, we take every precaution to keep our mothers and babies safe. We follow California’s official COVID-19 safety protocols for labor and delivery. We enforce strict safety measures and are constantly cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the hospital. Every labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum (LDRP) room in our Maternity Care Department can be converted into a negative pressure room to keep pathogens contained. Laboring women are tested upon admission, and your partner/birth support person must provide either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result from the past 72 hours in order to accompany you in the delivery room. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) still requires masks to be work in healthcare settings, so masks are required throughout the hospital at all times. Women scheduled for a planned C-section come in for a COVID-19 test ahead of their scheduled delivery.

Since the pandemic began, we have delivered babies for many women who tested positive for COVID-19. Our team wears extra personal protective equipment (PPE) when assisting COVID-19 positive women. If a woman’s partner is COVID-19 positive but neither has symptoms, we allow that person to stay in the room with the mother. We can also recommend specially trained doulas who have experience assisting COVID-19 positive women.

We test the babies of COVID-19 positive women at birth and then again after 24 hours. Parents are given the choice of whether to keep their babies in the room with them, and most elect to do so. There is no indication that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk and COVID-19 positive women still get in-person, in-room help from our lactation specialists.


Feeling the Pressure To Have a Baby? These Tips Can Help

Your mom keeps asking. Your dad chimes in. Your mother-in-law drops unsubtle hints every time you see her. Even your grandmother wants to know. When are you having a baby?

Let’s start by stating the obvious: It’s your business. Whether and when you have children is between you, your significant other, and mother nature. But before you tell those aspiring grandparents to back off, try to see things from their point of view. These are all potential drivers behind their baby campaign:

  • They want to see their bloodline continue and pass on the family name.
  • All their friends have grandkids, and they feel left out.
  • Like you, they have biological clocks. Theirs says they have a limited window for active grandparenting, when they are still healthy enough to chase after a toddler, take the grandkids to the beach for the weekend, or drive themselves to a Little League game.
  • They enjoyed raising their kids and want to experience that pleasure again.
  • Siblings and close friends may want cousins or playmates for their own children or want to go through the parenting experience with you.

Understanding the motivation behind well-meaning inquiries will help you be more compassionate in dealing with anxious loved ones. Try to tailor your response to the type and amount of pressure you are getting. If your mom coos and sighs theatrically every time she sees a cute baby, you can probably ignore it. If she gives you onesies and baby booties for your birthday, you’ll have to be more forceful.

Remind your parents or in-laws how much you love them and tell them you appreciate their concern. If you know you want children someday, tell them so. Then, explain in clear, plain English that you and your partner intend to make your own reproductive decisions. Promise them that when you do get pregnant, they will be the first to know but for now, you’d like to put that topic to bed. You can reinforce that by having a glass of wine at family functions. Even if you just hold it as a prop, it’s a clear signal that no, you are not expecting and please don’t ask.

Of course, some of those nosy folks may not even be your relatives. You could get the baby question from a friend or coworker, or even the nice grocery store cashier who talks your ear off at checkout. Yes, they all mean well, and no, it’s none of their business. You don’t have to answer, and you can return the favor by not asking. Maybe your friend who’s always wanted kids is having fertility problems and doesn’t want to talk about it. When it comes to the baby question, it’s “don’t ask.” And don’t tell until you’re ready.