Pregnant People Aren't 'Over' COVID-19—Let's Not Overlook Their Boundaries
We're nearing the second anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic. In March of 2020, the consensus seemed to be, "We're all in this together." In the last two years we've shifted, and now society is somewhere between "do what's best for you and your family" and "I'm over COVID-19, so it's over."
And that presents a problem for people who are severely immunocompromised or pregnant and at a higher risk for serious illness. Though people knew less during the first wave in March 2020, one Redditor actually wishes they were pregnant then instead of now. They took to the CoronaBumpers subreddit to vent.
"My sister was pregnant in March 2020, and I'm jealous of her experience because people really actually cared about protecting her from COVID-19," wrote u/ActualCustard3024. "People would literally not go near her if they had so much as a sniffle."
But they're not extending the same courtesy to the original poster (OP).
"I feel like the whole experience is so much worse as people just don't care anymore," the poster continued.
The OP goes on to say they think they recently got COVID-19 from their sister, who they noted is unvaccinated.
"She was one of two people I saw at Christmas," they wrote, adding they work from home and don't mingle elsewhere. "I'm just so angry and upset she couldn't show me the same protection as what I did for her when she was pregnant."
Just because someone—vaccinated or not—is over the pandemic doesn't mean the pandemic is over.
"I get it's great for the rest of the world that they are out of lockdown, but it's rubbish when you are vulnerable to infections, and people just won't get the hint to stay away if they have symptoms," the OP finished.
As someone who gave birth just before the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic (and missed OB-GYN office and hospital restrictions) but is currently pregnant now, I've had this thought more than once. But other posters don't necessarily agree.
"While I understand where you're coming from in theory, you should absolutely not wish for that experience. I gave birth in July 2020, so over half of my pregnancy was spent in terror for myself and my baby…Pregnant people were forgotten in the scramble to shut the world down, and it was a long time before we got data focused on us. I am currently 12 weeks and really suffering from PTSD from being in lockdown with my last," wrote the top commenter.
"I was pregnant then and got sick with suspected COVID-19. Getting tested back at the beginning of the pandemic was a terrifying experience. I was in tears, sitting in a test center…I don't prefer then over now, but I am pissed at your sister," said another.
"As someone who got pregnant in January 2020, it was a terrifying time to be pregnant. There were no good personal protections. The uncertainty was indescribable…[I'm thankful] for vaccines. I think once you are vaccinated, it's easy to forget what an enormous relief it is to not have the same level of fear of serious outcomes," someone commented.
Another poster can see—and has experienced—both sides.
"I was pregnant during early COVID-19 and am pregnant again now. Both sucked in very different ways. For my 2020 baby, we knew absolutely nothing about COVID-19's impact on babies, and people were also reassuring us (incorrectly) that it probably wasn't really bad for pregnant people… But you're right—at least everyone was masked, and it was more normal to quarantine as much as possible. This time around, people refuse to wear masks and act like it's inevitable we'll all get it. But at least I'm vaccinated. I cannot emphasize enough how much that helps mentally and physically for people contracting COVID-19 now," the person said
Ultimately, it's not a competition. Being pregnant can be challenging even in "normal" circumstances, and it's been a tough two years to carry a baby.
Doctors say one of the best ways pregnant people can protect themselves and their babies from serious illness is to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster. Research shows the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people. Babies born to individuals who get vaccinated while pregnant are born with antibodies, according to one recent study, and another study found that the vaccine did not negatively impact fertility.
People also have a right to set boundaries. Though we can't control whether others follow mask guidance or mandates or go to weddings during major surges, we can ask people to test and stay home when sick. And people should respect that, whether a person is pregnant, immunocompromised, or simply doesn't share your "over COVID-19" and "vaxxed and done" perspective.