We have all heard the nursery rhyme – first comes love, then marriage, then the baby carriage. For many couples, wedding planning and family planning are still inextricably linked—babies tend to follow weddings. But all that careful planning has been eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic. Facing social distancing guidelines and travel restrictions, weddings are getting postponed. Pregnancy is always filled with uncertainty.
But when the excitement of the unknown that comes with pregnancy is compounded with layers of the unknown brought on by the pandemic, the chemistry of the situation changes. Excitement becomes anxiety. The idea of heading to a hospital where doctors are treating COVID-19 patients for the appointment doesn’t seem like a good idea, so women are leaving their pregnancy plans up in the air indefinitely.
All the stress has taken a toll on mental well-being and triggered stress-induced binge drinking. For some women, the pressure of a biological clock feels more pressing. Women who are concerned they might have trouble getting and staying pregnant are going to fertility specialists for some tests. Doing a fertility test can change your timeline—especially if you want two or three kids. Fertility concerns are only one thing to weigh. Deviating from the traditional order of events—wedding first, baby second—means weighing. This is weighing the values and cultural expectations against the practical realities created by COVID-19.
Pandemic Wrecking Ball
It has always been important to first get married and then start a family. But with the postponement of the weddings an entire year, and coming from differing cultural perspectives, couples are at odds with what to do next. Pregnancy plans are often tied to weddings. Money and financial benefits like paid maternity leave are also huge factors. Getting everything to line up just right is a delicate process—and COVID-19 is taking a wrecking ball to it.
One such case is of a PhD student, planned to get married, find a new job, and start trying to get pregnant. The pandemic upended these plans and created a domino effect. She has postponed her wedding and job search amidst economic uncertainty. She and her fiancé have fast-tracked their baby-making efforts. This is in order to take advantage of the maternity benefits offered by her current job.
With few answers about how the coronavirus may impact pregnant women and so much uncertainty around the future of the outbreak, being pregnant during a pandemic is a lot to consider. According to psychotherapists for expectant and new parents, counsels make couples sit down together. Then they evaluate their emotional, physical, and financial reserves. You are feeling emotionally connected and financially stable enough to start a family. Then, it might be a good time to make that decision—wedding or no wedding. However, if you are dealing with the stress of job loss or feeling physically cramped together under quarantine, you may want to wait.
If anything, the pandemic has reminded us that we are not in control of our lives as much as we would like to believe. At times like this, it is literally helpful to focus on what we can control and completely put our thoughts and behaviour toward those controllable efforts.