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March 19: Natural Conception Program Paused for 6 Weeks

By Carrie Schram, Medical Director, Natural Conception Program

Today I had to make the most challenging decision I’ve had to make yet as Medical Director of the Natural Conception Program.

Like all of you, my world in the past week has turned upside down by the declaration that COVID-19 is now a pandemic and the province of Ontario is in a state of emergency. I’ve been staying on top of public health recommendations and those of my medical societies, to try to ensure that the NCP is in line with the advice being given and striking a fair balance between keeping patients safe and helping people achieve the families they desire.

Today, that balance shifted. With new information it became clear that it may not be safe to push for and encourage pregnancy now, when we do not have full confidence that our healthcare system can support pregnant people in the months to come. I met with team leaders, and together with the support of Dr. Hannam and the clinic, we have closed the Natural Conception Program for the next six weeks.

What does this mean? It means that if a patient calls in a day 1, we will not go ahead. It means if a patient is mid-cycle, we will tell that patient to not try to get pregnant this cycle, and that the remainder of the cycle is cancelled. I don’t take this lightly. I know for many people, each cycle is a valuable opportunity and I deeply regret not providing medical care to people at this time. But I truly do feel this is the path we must take for now.

A little bit of good news: I’m not actually worried about women’s risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 in pregnancy. Of course we have limited information available (this is a novel virus after all), but what early data we do have shows that even if a pregnant person becomes infected, both parent and baby are almost certainly to be just fine. Phew!

But we don’t know if our healthcare system will be able to absorb the wave of COVID-19 infections that appears to be on the horizon, and also the capacity to provide the high-quality maternity and neonatal care we are used to in Canada.

I’m very optimistic that in six weeks we will, as a collective community, have successfully flattened this curve enough that our system can absorb this wave and it will be safe to help people get pregnant again. Let’s all continue to work together to make this a reality.

Until then, stay safe.

And stay connected virtually. As a group we are going to be providing information regularly and I hope to post again soon about what you can do, during this challenging time, to help be your best self for when it is safe to get pregnant in the near future.


 

Dr. Carrie SchramAbout the Author

Carrie Schram MD CCFP MPH
The Medical Director of Hannam’s Natural Conception Program, Dr. Schram has fellowship training in Women’s Health and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Toronto, where she is an assistant professor.

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