Due to the coronavirus pandemic, families are practicing self-isolation at home. Couples, therefore, have more time to be together and snuggle. However, experts give out a warning: it may not be the best time to get pregnant.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warns people of the possible increase in the unemployment rate to 20 percent due to the coronavirus. Couples whose jobs are in critical condition right now should think twice before trying to conceive.
It is also possible the couples would split up because of spending too much time together. The marriage registry official in China reported an increase in the number of divorce cases due to the quarantine.
It may be harder to get pregnant now
The global health crisis is causing stress to couples, thereby decreasing the libido and affecting menstrual cycles. Thus, it may be hard to conceive, said Dr. Renee Wellenstein, an OBGYN and functional medicine specialist in upstate New York.
She advises couples to "absolutely not" get pregnant now due to the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus. There are many risk factors, including having less care available in many areas, as the priority of most hospitals is to help those infected by COVID-19.
Pregnant women who go to the hospitals carry additional risks because when they get infected by any virus, no one knows how it might impact the baby in their womb, said Dr. Wellestein. Adding to that, she said that entering hospitals already put the pregnant woman at risk.
Wellestein further stated that there is still no clear statement as to how the coronavirus affects the baby when it crosses the placenta, but it is not worth the risk. She added that once the baby is born, it will be immediately exposed to the virus, which might easily infect the baby.
Will there be a baby boom after nine months?
Dr. Wellenstein told CNN that she does not foresee a baby boom in nine months. It could be possible, but no one is certain.
She said that in the northeast, more babies are born in the late summer and fall months, meaning couples mostly try to get pregnant during the late fall and winter.
A study by scientists at the University of Texas and John Hopkins University revealed that a relatively minor storm that causes power outages increased the birth rate a little. However, it showed that a more severe storm that caused a lot of deaths and destruction had a more negative impact on the birth rate.
Larger disasters can lower birth rates
Scholar Lyman Stone wrote in an article published by the Institute for Family Studies in March that illness, quarantine, and death can have a significant impact on conception, pregnancy, and birth. He found in the previous academic literature that events that caused many deaths, such as famines, earthquakes, heatwaves, and disease, reduce the number of live births after nine months.
Stone stressed that Hurricanes Maria and Katrina in the US, the 2015 Ebola outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea all significantly associated with a decline in birth rates. On the contrary, events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Oklahoma City bombing could have led to higher birth rates because couples cling more closely together as these affect the American psyche.
There is still uncertainty whether the coronavirus gets transmitted through the placenta or not. A recent study was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics showed that only three newborns tested positive in the first week of their lives out of the 33 mothers that gave birth after being infected with COVID.
Emeritus professor of neonatal medicine at the University of Bristol, Andrew Whitelaw, told the Science Media Center in the UK that they tested the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord of all the infants, and the result was negative, so the three babies likely contracted the virus after delivery.
Still, many doctors are concerned if it would be safe for the mother to expose their baby to the virus after birth.
While there is no certainty if the pandemic might cause an increase in the birth rate nine months from now, Wellenstein said that a few months from now, we might see more pregnancies so long as the pandemic is resolved. Then, everybody can do their normal activities just like before.
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