What to Know About Zika if You’re Planning to Get Pregnant

Two months ago I went through my first miscarriage, what would have been our family's fifth baby. It was a very hard time for me and I had been especially excited about having our family finally “feel” complete. 

I know that what feels complete for every family is different, but for me, I was excited to have one last baby in our house. And although I am not at all ready to consider going through another pregnancy at the moment, part of me hopes that I will get there in the future.

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And thinking about adding to our family again fills me with a lot of fear for a lot of reasons, but one of them is definitely the increased risk of Zika in the United States. There's a lot we hear about Zika in the news, but how much do you really know about Zika and pregnancy? Can you pick up Zika before you get pregnant? How long before you conceive should you avoid Zika-heavy areas? At what point in your pregnancy is Zika the most dangerous?

I did some searching about Zika to answer these questions for anyone who might be considering planning a pregnancy in the next year. 

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Image via j&j brusie photography

What happens if you travel before planning to get pregnant or live in a Zika area?

The CDC has a helpful timeframe for women who are planning on getting pregnant. They suggest waiting at least two months before trying to get pregnant if you or your partner has traveled to an area that has high rates of Zika virus and neither of you is showing signs of Zika symptoms. 

If your male partner shows any symptoms of Zika, however, you should wait at least six months before trying to get pregnant, since Zika can live longer in a man's sperm. I actually found the CDC's information very helpful, since they talked about how choosing to plan a pregnancy, even if you live in an area with Zika, is a highly personal decision for families. It wasn't scary or threatening and it didn't write off ever trying to plan for a baby again. 

When is Zika the most dangerous during pregnancy?

This is the question I wondered the most — is there a time when Zika is the most dangerous during pregnancy? Should you avoid Zika more during a certain trimester?

And unfortunately, it looks like the answer is that Zika can be dangerous to babies no matter what stage of pregnancy you are at. Doctors are cautioning that microcephaly isn't the only health complication that can occur, either, so it's important to monitor baby's health even if he or she has a normally-sized head after exposure to the Zika virus.

With plans to potentially travel to Florida next spring, I have to admit that I am more than a little nervous about possibly exposing our family to Zika and picking up the virus that may or may not linger in my system long enough to affect a future pregnancy. It's a scary thought and it's one that honestly might affect our family plans. 

What about you? Is Zika prompting you to delay pregnancy?

What do you think?

What to Know About Zika if You’re Planning to Get Pregnant

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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