Thinking of trying for a baby during COVID?

posted by: Jonathan Shaw

Many people are currently considering planning for a pregnancy, but are unsure what the risks are. We can share what we know so far.

What are the risks associated with Covid-19 in pregnancy?

Unfortunately little is known about Covid-19 in pregnancy. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists currently advises (on 22/05/20) that pregnant women appear to be no more likely than everyone else to catch COVID.

Pregnancy does alter how the body reacts to infections. So far we have seen that most pregnant women with Covid-19 are expected to have mild symptoms (or none). However a small number (particularly those in the last 3 months of pregnancy) may have more severe symptoms with Covid-19.

Current expert opinion, based on experience with other coronaviruses as well as limited experience with Covid-19, is that your baby is unlikely to be infected with Covid-19 whilst in the womb. There also is not likely to be an increased risk of miscarriage or damage to the baby if you catch COVID, although the risk of early (premature) delivery is not known.

So what is the current advice?

At present anybody who is pregnant, particularly those over 6 months pregnant, are advised that social distancing is especially important. However it is also essential to attend routine antenatal appointments.

Please call your midwife if you are pregnant and worried about going in to your clinic appointments. They can talk you through how the clinics are keeping people as safe as possible.

Are you thinking of stopping contraception to plan a pregnancy at this time?

Covid-19 is likely to remain a problem for many months. Very little is known for certain at this time about the risks associated with Covid-19 for pregnant women and their babies. We are learning all the time and advice for pregnant women could change frequently.

It remains important (as always) to be as healthy as possible before and during pregnancy including stopping smoking and for your doctor to look at your medicines to see if they will affect pregnancy. It is also important to take folic acid before you stop contraception to try for a baby. More advice can be found here.

To have an implant or a coil removed you’ll need to come to clinic to see a trained healthcare professional. You should consider your risk of coming into contact with Covid-19 at this time. At the time of writing, non-essential contact between healthcare professionals and patients should be avoided to maintain social distancing. We would recommend contacting our triage line if you want to discuss this.

How long until its safe to try?

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) suggests that this may not be the best time to plan for a pregnancy. There is still not enough known about the effects of Covid-19 infection on a pregnancy. Also if you are pregnant you will have more contact with healthcare workers but this may increase your risk of catching Covid-19.

Please keep an eye on our website and on your news channels for more updates as we learn more about Covid-19.

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Accessing our service

In response to the emergence of COVID-19 we have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We are currently experiencing high demand for our Sexual Health Services across Devon and Torbay with unprecedented demand in Exeter. Please note always review urgent cases the same day. If your need is urgent and you are struggling to reach us keep trying as our phone system will explain how to access same-day care with us.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info