Think carefully about getting pregnant during coronavirus crisis, couples urged

Couples in lockdown with “time on their hands” should consider using contraception, Scotland’s chief medical officer has said.

At the Scottish Government’s daily media briefing in Edinburgh, Dr Catherine Calderwood suggested people should think carefully about getting pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked if the Scottish Government is expecting a rise in the number of pregnancies as a consequence of people being ordered not to leave their homes.

She quickly passed the question to Dr Calderwood, who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.

The First Minister said afterwards: “It falls into the category of the many things I never thought I would be standing here as First Minister advising the public on”.

Dr Calderwood said: “As the obstetrician in the room, this has occurred to me that in fact we do need to be advising people about having time on their hands.

“The labour ward is always much busier nine months after Valentine’s day so we have that to consider.

“The serious point is that almost all maternity services are emergency services – they can’t be time limited, you can’t pause like elective surgery.”

She added: “It has been suggested to me that we talk to people about contraception.

“About 50% of pregnancies are unplanned so perhaps think about whether this is the right time to have an unplanned pregnancy.

“This (coronavirus outbreak) will last for some time, the emergency services – the maternity services – will continue to run, though, so we have planned for all of the babies that would have been born to have exactly the same care that they would have had outside of this pandemic.

“But people are making difficult choices and we would always encourage people to think: ‘Is this the right time for me, am I in the best of health, is this a good time for me to start thinking about having a baby?'”

On the issue of already expectant mothers, Dr Calderwood said: “We are encouraging all women who are currently pregnant to come forward, to have their scans, to have their antenatal care.

“My colleagues in the maternity services across the country have changed what they are doing to offer virtual clinics so women don’t have to travel and don’t have to be seen face-to-face but of course that contact does need to happen.”

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