pregnancy

'It actually sped up my timeline.' The impact of COVID-19 on women's pregnancy plans.

The pandemic has had a far-reaching, life-altering impact on the pregnancy plans of many women in Australia.

For everyone, coronavirus changed things; if not everything. For some women in their ‘baby-making years’, it brought about considerable concerns and unexpected turns. Like, how will a pandemic impact a pregnancy? Will partners be allowed in hospital rooms? 

Will waiting to conceive carry risks? How will the economic uncertainty influence hopeful or expecting parents’ financial confidence? 

Thousands of families in Australia, and more abroad, have been faced with these concerns. 

According to research conducted by Mamamia and Elevit, anxiety around trying to get pregnant has increased. In fact, more than one in two women are feeling more worried than normal about trying for a baby or being pregnant. 

One woman who knows this growing concern is 33-year-old Sophia, whose timeline hasn’t changed, but her angst has amplified.

“It’s made me more anxious,” 33-year-old Sophia tells Mamamia. “We have to undergo IVF to fall pregnant. We live across the border from our clinic so I’ve been terrified of having a cycle cancelled or postponed because I couldn’t travel to the clinic. 

“Then there’s the risk of coming down with a cold or other coronavirus-like symptoms and not being allowed into the hospital for the embryo transfer. IVF is already hard enough without having to worry about all these extra complications.” 

Another woman, Karen, also feels the frustration of the precarious relationship between IVF access and the restrictions of a pandemic. 

“I am anxious as I am getting well into my forties so my chances of falling pregnant with my second child was already slim. Now, coronavirus has substantially decreased the possibility even further.”

This was a common sentiment shared by women undergoing IVF treatment, with one 33-year-old saying, “the pandemic has made being a person with infertility and fighting against the clock even more stressful”.

Listen: What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy. Post continues below

But the ‘biological clock’ was not the only reason causing anxiety. 

One woman said the pandemic had “made [her] question what kind of world I am bringing children into”. 

“The news can be scary and I want my child to have a healthy and safe future.” 

For the most part, though, the external events of the world haven’t thrown women off their pregnancy plans. In fact, for many, the pandemic has acted as an ‘accelerator’.

Despite coronavirus and the financial downturn, research conducted by Mamamia and Elevit found that three in five women, with pre-pandemic pregnancy plans, say they are still trying to conceive. And for many women who didn’t have a plan, they now do. 

“It brought my timeline forward,” Kia, a 30-year-old woman, shared with Mamamia. “I was still in the 'live life travel the world' mindset, and had a wishy washy timeline of when I wanted to start 'trying.' The pandemic forced my partner and I to actually sit down and plan our future. Now we have a date - February 2022 - as to when we will at least start trying.”

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She goes on to say that the pandemic brought her closer to her partner and “solidified what we have and what we wanted”. 

Kia is not alone. 

READ: The new world order: Marriage can wait, motherhood can’t.

Tayshia, 27, said she too has chosen to try for a baby earlier. 

“Without travel plans or anything else now, I've decided that I'm open to start trying in 2021.

“I almost feel more pressure to be pregnant soon,” she added, “because we're not doing anything else? And because it feels like everyone has already been pregnant with their COVID baby.”

Another woman, a 34-year-old, said they decided to have their third baby earlier because she felt it would be easier to be pregnant during lockdown as she felt she “wasn't’ missing out on anything”.

“We always planned to have three children and the thought of being pregnant when the pandemic was over was horrifying for me, as I would be missing out on everything returning to normal...

“It was also easy to hide pregnancy from work when working from home, and I could also have a quick rest when feeling unwell.”

Watch: What you're like as a new mum, according to your star sign. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia

There is also the impact the pandemic has had on financial capabilities.

Holly, 28, said: “It delayed our plans by a few months because we had to wait so that I will be at my new employer for 12 months by the birth - due to COVID stopping my job from existing.”

She added it was “the ongoing effect of a lower income is frustrating”.

This was a common sentiment, with some women saying their pregnancy plans are now contingent on if they can secure a job or not.  

It’s not only impacted plans, but perceptions too, our research found.

For example, we found four in five women are more likely to try to prepare their body to be as healthy as they can be before trying for a baby. 

Plus, 73 per cent said they value their family, friends and community more now than prior to the pandemic. 

Certainly, the research indicates what anyone will tell you anecdotally: the coronavirus crisis has rearranged priorities and reaffirmed the importance of family for most.