Labor of Love: Stories of Vaccines, Variants, and Parenting during COVID

Paige Dempsey is a single mother who got pregnant by undergoing IVF. During her pregnancy, Paige contracted COVID-19. This week, Paige shares her motherhood journey with COVID-19 and how she decided to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant.

Show Notes

Paige Dempsey is a single mother who got pregnant by undergoing IVF. During her pregnancy, Paige contracted COVID-19. This week, Paige shares her motherhood journey with COVID-19 and how she decided to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant. We’ll also speak with Dr. Jen Villavicencio, Lead for Equity Transformation at ACOG. Dr. Villavicencio will share relevant information about fertility and complex family planning, while addressing misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine’s effect on fertility. She will also share other pertinent information for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

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Please find other COVID-19 resources here from ACOG and the CDC:

ACOG | Women's Health COVID-19
CDC | Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People

What is Labor of Love: Stories of Vaccines, Variants, and Parenting during COVID?

Becoming a parent is beautiful journey, but one that can also be full of uncertainty and stress. Add to that navigating a pandemic through pregnancy, birth and your little one’s first years, and the anxiety can be overwhelming. After all, it’s not just your health you have to be concerned about anymore.

That’s why Dr. Veronica Pimentel – a practicing OB-GYN, pandemic mom, and fierce vaccine proponent – is here to discuss the facts about COVID, vaccines, and motherhood. In Labor of Love, Dr. Pimentel works to alleviate the concerns of new parents who have questions about how COVID and the vaccines may impact pregnancy. In each episode, she’ll talk with real moms who share their stories about experiencing motherhood in the time of COVID, and follow up with maternal health experts who share accurate information so listeners are equipped to make the best choices for themselves and their families.

This podcast (“Resource”) is designed for patients and is for informational purposes only; it does not provide medical advice and it is not intended to replace the advice or counsel of a physician or health care professional. While ACOG makes every effort to present accurate and reliable information, this Resource is provided “as is” without any warranty of accuracy, reliability, or otherwise, either express or implied. ACOG does not guarantee, warrant, or endorse the products or services of any firm, organization, or person. Neither ACOG nor its officers, directors, members, employees, or agents will be liable for any loss, damage, or claim with respect to any liabilities, including direct, special, indirect, or consequential damages, incurred in connection with this Resource or reliance on the information presented. Please visit for more information, including the full disclaimer.

This Resource was supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a part of a financial assistance award totaling $300,000 with 100 percent funded by ACOG and CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (00:01):
(silence) Fertility is an important part of life for people who want to get pregnant. The person who is trying to conceive can be hesitant about consuming or being exposed to anything that might affect their fertility. Fertility is also one of the biggest concerns that new parents have when it comes to COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations. They're wanting to know, "Can becoming infected with COVID-19 decrease my chances of getting pregnant? Can receiving the COVID-19 vaccine further affect my fertility?" It's this decision that has caused many new moms to pause when considering getting vaccinated. And the misinformation circulating around these topics doesn't make the decision any easier. This is Labor of Love.
Paige Dempsey is a single mom who became pregnant with her second child through IVF. Paige wasn't sure how the COVID-19 vaccines would've impact her fertility, but she also wasn't sure how becoming infected with COVID-19 would affect her fertility as well. I got to sit down with Paige and hear about her experience. Our first guest for today's episode is Paige Dempsey. Paige is a life coach based in Omaha, Nebraska. She caught COVID-19 when she was newly pregnant from IVF in February 2021. Paige is joining us to share her story on her COVID-19 experience and why she decided to get vaccinated towards the end of her pregnancy. Welcome, Paige.

Paige Dempsey (01:39):
Hello, doctor. Thank you.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (01:41):
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story.

Paige Dempsey (01:44):
A little bit about myself. I am what's called a single mom by choice and I'm also what you would call a advanced maternal age mom, for sure. So I got married late and divorced early. I had my first son when I was just weeks shy of turning 39 and divorced my ex a couple years later. I wanted to have more children and had always had that in my mind and in my heart, so I looked into doing IVF as a single mom by choice. I'm in Omaha, Nebraska, so I met with one of the fertility clinics here and quickly realized, based on my age, which at that time I would've been 45, that I probably would need to go out of state to get some good clinical services. So I went to CCRM in Denver, Colorado to do some initial meetings in 2020. So, actually, right before the pandemic.
Had my first round of IVF in the summer of 2020, and that was not successful. So I took a few months to grieve and come back from that experience and then I did a second round of IVF. I started doing my medications and all that stuff in the fall of 2020. And I did my transfer in January 2021. And then in the middle of February, my son, who then was seven turning eight, I guess he would've been seven at the time, came home from school one weekend not feeling well and then it all went downhill from there. He had COVID, my ex had COVID, and then I had COVID.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (03:19):
I can only imagine how scary that was, because still we didn't have that much information yet, so I'm very sorry for that. But I wanted to go and talk a little bit more about your journey in terms of getting pregnant and how did the COVID-19 affect your decision to continue with IVF, or to accept the vaccine or not accept the vaccine at that point in time?

Paige Dempsey (03:41):
So my decision to try to get pregnant was not deterred by the COVID pandemic whatsoever. Primarily because of my age. I'm in Omaha, I went to a clinic in Denver. For me, that's an eight-hour road trip so that did affect my travel plans. I drove instead of flying, but I didn't change my plans in terms of moving forward with wanting to get pregnant. In terms of the vaccine, so I was pregnant in January and people who have done IVF, I guess I can't speak for everybody, my understanding is most women have to do.. I did shots and I was taking supplements and medications and all kinds of stuff.
And when I got COVID, my COVID was very bad, very strong. I had a very severe reaction. I had it for the better part of a month. And so I'm not only newly pregnant, I'm newly pregnant with COVID and I'm newly pregnant via IVF, which meant that... And I don't have a good memory for exactly how many or whatever, but I had shots and meds and all these things that I had to do, and I just was laying on the couch thinking, "Oh my God, if I have to go to the hospital and take all this stuff with me, this is going to be a real problem."

Dr. Vero Pimentel (04:58):
And you said you got very sick. Did you have to be hospitalized?

Paige Dempsey (05:02):
I did not have to be hospitalized, but I was almost immobilized. I could barely leave my couch for two weeks, almost three. And I remember that time too. My son had a birthday in there, so I could just almost barely keep my eyes open. I did what I could at home. I got a pulsometer. Was checking my oxygen. A couple times it got a little bit low, but it was fine. I was messaging my friends who were nurses, calling my OB and calling my clinic and keeping in communication with them, but it was two really bad weeks. A third week where I was starting to feel like I was coming back to life, and then a fourth week of still trying to get back to regular. So that took me to the middle of March.
So in terms of getting the vaccine, this was my thought process. I understood, or at least I thought I understood that when you have COVID, typically the antibodies hang around for like three months. So that's March to April, to May, to June. So now I'm halfway through my pregnancy. And then one of my neighbors told me that you could go to the pharmacy here and get an antibody test later for $20 or something and just see. So I gave it a few weeks and then I went and got tested almost a month later and I was still showing positive for the antibodies. So I was like, "Great. Maybe I won't even really need to make..." I was almost putting off making the decision, because I thought I was naturally immune from having the antibodies in my system from having COVID.
And then when I did a little bit more reading or maybe I talked... I can't remember if it was my OB or who I spoke with, but somewhere I came to learn that the antibodies that your body makes aren't necessarily as protective as the ones that you would get from getting the vaccine.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (06:57):
Absolutely. That's a very important point, and I'm glad that your OB explained that to you.

Paige Dempsey (07:02):
But just something about... I was a little bit hesitant to get the vaccine.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (07:08):
What do you think made you feel hesitant, and how much did the process of IVF, having gone through all those decision-making process that you had to go through, influence your decision to delay getting the vaccine?

Paige Dempsey (07:22):
I've thought about that, and I think a lot of it has to do with being on that fertility journey. There is decision fatigue. There's shot fatigue. There's medicine fatigue. And then there was me thinking, "I already got COVID, so maybe I could just wait this out." And again, I wasn't out. I stayed home. I wasn't out bars and restaurants. Eventually, what kind of got me turned around is I had posted a picture on Facebook with me still wearing a mask going to the grocery store, because this would've been a year and a half into the pandemic. A lot of people were getting pandemic fatigue and not wearing masks or not social distancing or washing your hands, like whatever. And I was like, "Hey, anybody still masking besides me? Because I feel like I'm the only one out here at Target or at the store wearing my mask," and not a lot of people, everybody else was.
So one of my friends, who was a high school friend of mine, who is an MD, PhD, very, very smart, a person that I very much trust. She and I, and a couple other folks got into a little mini thread on this Facebook post about vaccines and me being pregnant. And I hadn't gotten vaxxed yet. And she's like, "Hey, if you want to talk about this, let me know." So she was nice enough to really spend some time with me talking one on one. And she had done some lit review and had looked at some of the studies, because I know that the med organizations around pregnant women and all that recommended getting the vax, blanket statement. That's fine. I get it. But that's not necessarily like specific to me.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (09:07):
So you knew that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists was already recommending the vaccine in pregnancy, but you needed a little bit more information from somebody that you trusted that was close to you, it sounds like?

Paige Dempsey (09:19):
Yeah. When I think about this decision, it was almost like I was not making the decision, like I was avoiding. I wasn't a no, but I wasn't a yes. But I don't really know why, because if you asked me otherwise, if it were just me not pregnant, I would've just gotten the vaccine as soon as I was eligible. So then I'm pregnant and then I'm older. And then I invested this ton of money and time and effort and physical whatever that I've already put my body through through IVF. And, yeah, so I had like some little bit... I just had some hesitancy. And so I'll probably get the details a little bit wrong, but what I remember of that conversation with my friend, who was a doctor and a scientist. She Said, "Hey, I did some research and there's some studies that have been done on first responders who were pregnant, who got the vaccine," so people that were in hospitals and nurses and that, and maybe didn't even know they were pregnant as this was all happening.
And the bottom line that she told me that I understood was there was no adverse effects that could be seen. And there wasn't any statistically significant difference between women that had gotten the vaccine with miscarriage rates or that sort of thing compared to those who had not. So just having that one-on-one conversation with data and from a person that I know and trusted, I think I went and I signed up the next day to get my vaccine, which by this point, I got my first vaccine in August and my second three weeks later was the beginning of September. And then I had my baby three weeks later.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (11:09):
I'm glad that you made that decision to get vaccinated and that you got the information that you needed in order to trust the recommendation from organizations such as ACOG. You have gone through a big journey, a long journey to get pregnant, one that can be very stressful, of course, IVF. So I'm not surprised that there was some decision fatigue on your part. And I see that with many of my own patients. There's also a lot of myths out there about how vaccine affects fertility and that can be a deterrent to pregnant people or people who are seeking IVF from getting vaccinated. Have you heard anything about how vaccine affects fertility? Did you come across that in your circles, at all?

Paige Dempsey (11:49):
That' a good question. I don't recall specifically. I will tell you that I am in some Facebook groups of women who are IVF or single mom by choice or fertility support groups. And I did see a lot of discussion among the folks in the groups, but at some point I just had to hide or, however you do that, hide the groups, because I'm not going to look to my peers for medical advice. I'm going to look to the doctors and to the scientists in terms of what the medical advice would be. I think the question mark is I understood that the vaccines, although they seemed new, had a lot of history and then fertility treatment has some history, but vaccine plus fertility treatment, there's still maybe a little bit of an unknown. And, again, it is such an emotional investment and an expensive investment that I can see not wanting to jeopardize that.
But on the flip side I agree with science. I agree with herd immunity. I agree with the need for all of us to do our part to keep our communities safe. So that was kind of the balance.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (13:12):
Paige, I completely understand where you're coming from. I believe that no expectant parent wants to cause harm to their baby and it can be a very difficult process to go through, especially after going through IVF. And at the end of the day, I think that if we understand that the information about the vaccine is safe, I think most parents will make the decision to continue to protect their pregnancy and protect their baby, as you made yourself the same decision. What would you like to tell women about getting vaccinated? Is there any message that you'd like to share?

Paige Dempsey (13:45):
Sure. I would say do it. It was not a problem. I was thinking too, one of the hesitancies that I had is I have heard some people could get sick from the vaccine or in the same timing as the vaccine or whatever. And so of course I didn't want to make myself sick since I'd already had that experience of having COVID, but it was easy. It was no problem. I had no side effects. So I think the great good and the benefits outweigh the very, very minuscule risk that any medication poses. I think, I would suggest that we talk to your provider, talk to your medical provider. I know a lot about a lot of things, but I'm not a scientist. I'm not an epidemiologist. I'm not a doctor. So in those matters, I got to look to the experts and trust that they're going to know what's best for me in those situations.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (14:38):
Thank you for sharing that. That's very important. I think it's also important to highlight that even though one can have some minor side effects from vaccine, it pales in comparison to how sick you felt when you actually got sick with COVID and COVID has some long-lasting effects, while everything that we know from the vaccine thus far seems to be very safe, both for the pregnant person, as well as the baby, while inside the uterus and once the baby is born as well. So I wanted to thank you for sharing your story for taking the time to talk to us. We appreciate you being here and best of luck to you and your family.

Paige Dempsey (15:18):
Thank you, doctor. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (15:27):
Paige ultimately decided to receive the vaccine because she found a credible source of information that assured her that the vaccine won't have any impact on her pregnancy and future fertility. Paige was fortunate enough to find reliable information, but we want to recognize that others have struggled to find accurate and consistent information. We want to talk with a specialist physician and hear their recommendations regarding COVID-19 and fertility. Our second guess for today's episode is Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio. Dr. Villavicencio serves as the lead for equity transformation at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, ACOG. She's an expert in OB-GYN and complex family planning, health policy, and strategic communication of socially complex subjects. She's here today as a health expert to discuss evidence-based information around COVID-19 vaccination and fertility. Thank you for being here today. Dr. Villavicencio.

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (16:24):
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (16:28):
The pleasure is ours to have you here sharing your expertise with us. As you know, our first guest was Paige and she was pregnant with her second child through IVF. She got COVID-19 when she thought that she had taken all the precautions to try to avoid getting this infection. How can COVID-19 impact women who are pregnant with IVF?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (16:48):
Her story is an impactful one and I think one that reflects that of many people across the United States and globally who have gotten COVID while they were pregnant. I think generally we know the science is very clear that COVID is more dangerous for people who are pregnant. There's a lot of reasons why, but the risk of mortality is higher, the risk of ICU admission is higher. Depending on what the health of the mom or the pregnant person is, there's the potential for loss of the pregnancy as well with COVID-19. And so certainly people who are pregnant by IVF may be at higher risk, generally with COVID than people who are pregnant generally. We don't have data to support that just yet, but sometimes people who are undergoing IVF are doing so because they have other health conditions. They may be older, all of which may be additional risk factors for COVID that may compound that.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (17:42):
Can COVID-19 impact fertility? And if so, how?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (17:46):
So this is something that's been swirling around and I it's really important to address head on. COVID-19, we don't have any data right now that says that the virus impacts your ability to get pregnant in the future or fertility. What we do know is that COVID-19 can have severe impacts on your general health. And we also know that general health, being a healthy individual at baseline, is an important aspect to becoming pregnant to your fertility at baseline. It's not everything, but certainly can impact it. And so common sense would suggest that if you have a severe COVID-19 infection, that may impact your ability to get pregnant in the future. And I think it's really important to differentiate that from the COVID-19 vaccine, for which there are a lot of myths around fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine. And that we do know there is absolutely no data whatsoever to support that the COVID-19 vaccine impacts your ability to get pregnant or impacts fertility.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (18:44):
That's a very good distinction to make. Thank you for making that distinction. When a woman like Paige gets COVID-19 and she's sick, she's dealing with so much. Is there anything that she can do to protect her baby and support her baby's health?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (18:57):
So when a pregnant person becomes sick, either with COVID-19 or another severe illness, what we know and you know, Dr. Pimentel, from being a maternal fetal medicine specialist, is that the health of the pregnant person, the health of the mom impacts the health of the baby. And so if we can get mom as healthy as possible and support mom, then we'll be supporting baby. And so what I always tell all of my patients is that what they're doing to protect their health as either someone who's trying to get pregnant or someone who is pregnant, all of those efforts are going to protecting their baby. Because they are where the baby is living and they are what is supporting that pregnancy.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (19:38):
Absolutely. As we say, generally, healthy mom, healthy baby healthy pregnant person, healthy fetus inside. So absolutely.

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (19:47):

Dr. Vero Pimentel (19:48):
So as you know, Paige did IVF as a single mom by choice in a time when vaccines were becoming more available and more information was coming out about the safety of vaccination in pregnancy. Yet there was, and there still is, a lot of misinformation about vaccines and infertility and Paige herself saw much of this misinformation in the mom's discussion groups online. So in your experience, what misinformation do you see around COVID-19 vaccines and infertility? And typically, how is it presented? You see it more from articles, word of mouth, social media? What has your experience been with this?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (20:25):
I think over the last two years, or going on two and a half years, of a pandemic, and as we've been talking about vaccines and then seeing the vaccines developed, and then rolling out the vaccines, and people getting the vaccines, there's been an evolution of myths and misinformation around it. And particularly there has been myths and misinformation around fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine, as I mentioned earlier. Fertility is an incredibly important part of a lot of people's lives. Their ability to build a family, to either be pregnant, or to parent, or both is something that is vitally important to many, many Americans. It follows those people who are interested in building families, interested in being pregnant would hear about the COVID-19 vaccine, hear the misinformation that was untested, it was definitely tested, but that was compounding misinformation that happened, they'd be concerned about it.
I totally understand that. I understand why Paige who read this on a mom's group, who are people coming together to try to help each other in really trying times would be concerned about this information. I've seen it on social media. I've seen it in articles, news articles, well-meaning reporters are repeating myths or misinformation around this. And so it's not just the dark corners of the internet that these myths exist. They exist everywhere. And it's why it's so important that we do things like this podcast and other measures to really combat those myths and help people understand that the COVID-19 vaccine is incredibly safe. And in fact is supportive in terms of trying to get pregnant, because it's keeping you safe from COVID-19, which potentially could impact your general health and therefore your fertility.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (22:01):
Excellent. Just to be very clear and to the point. Again, you've already said this, but I think it's very important to hear one more time. What does the latest data say about fertility and COVID-19 vaccines?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (22:14):
So there is no data that supports the myth that COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility. To say that another way, all of the data that we have suggests, and we do have data, so it's not that there isn't any data. We have data and none of it suggests that fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine are intertwined. And so getting the COVID-19 vaccine, based on all of the information that we have now, will not impact your fertility.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (22:41):
So if a patient or a person is trying to conceive and is going through the route of either infertility or trying to conceive spontaneously, what is your recommendation to that person?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (22:54):
I recommend that everybody who is eligible for the vaccine and everybody who is eligible for the booster receive the vaccine and the booster. It is safe to get when you are pregnant, it is safe to get while you are trying to get pregnant, and safe when you are not trying to get pregnant. And so at any point in time, if you haven't had any of the steps of the vaccine, I highly encourage you to get it.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (23:15):
You've heard it, folks. So what ways have you tried to combat misinformation? You're hear in the podcast doing that, of course, but what other ways have you tried to combat misinformation with pregnant people, with the community?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (23:30):
One thing that I think is really important that oftentimes public health officials or doctors, healthcare professionals miss is the way that people intake information and the way that people understand information. And I think that's really important in combating. We can spout all of the data we want, all the percentages, all of which are true and factual and real and important. But if we're not connecting with the real reasons why people are afraid or nervous or hesitant to receive these vaccines, we're not going to reach them. We need to understand that there are not only historical hesitancies around vaccines that are completely warranted, particularly in marginalized communities and communities of color, but certainly hesitancies around these myths, around things that are incredibly important to a majority of Americans, like building family.
And so what I do is I try to understand where the people who are either believing these or concerned about these myths are coming from and address the underlying concerns. They're scared. They're nervous. They're worried. It's not that they are these anti-vax people who are anti-vax for no reason. There's something underlying that. And I think combating the misinformation really requires us to move deeply into those reasons and connect with the person that's sitting in front of us or the communities that are asking us to connect with them and speak to those needs and speak to those issues, rather than just spouting facts at them.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (24:55):
Excellent way of doing things. I agree with that 100%. Paige talked about being hesitant about making a decision. In fact, she discussed having decision overload, so many decisions to make throughout her journey to becoming a mom for the second time via IVF. What advice do you give to patients who may be struggling to conceive or may be dealing with so many decisions? It may not be so much IVF, but sometimes it's because they have other issues that they're dealing with their lives, and they're struggling to make the decision to get vaccinated, or at least get vaccinated right away.

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (25:32):
As you're saying this, I'm sitting here nodding my head, because all of the things that you brought up are so salient to so many Americans and so many families. Decision fatigue, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, the need to make really life-and-death decisions is happening and is burning people out. And so I think the first thing that I want to offer folks who are listening to this or to my colleagues who have patients that are feeling this is validation. That Paige is completely validated in feeling and having felt that decision fatigue and what she was going through. IVF can be a really complex, tiring process, particularly if you have kids already at home, even if you don't. Day-to-day living in a pandemic as a single mom can be really, really challenging. And I want to validate that is particularly difficult for people of lower income, people who live in lower resourced areas, people of color who experience racism every day, all of these things compound to make burnout and thinking about the vaccine and weighing the pros and cons really, really difficult.
And sometimes it can be easier to just lean on, "I'm not going to get it today." I've seen that with my patients. They were like, "I can't think about this right now. I've got too many other things going on." And so what I would like to offer them in addition to the validation for that feeling is that you don't have to think too much about it. This vaccine has been given to billions of people at this point. We know that it is safe. And so in the same way that when you get in your car and you put your seat belts on, that's not a decision you're making, it's something that you do, because you know that it is going to keep you safe. I would recommend that the vaccine, you approach that in the same way. The vaccine is something that you do because it's safe, you know that it's safe and it's going to keep you safe from a really, really scary disease.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (27:14):
Thank you for that information. Paige was fortunate that she was surrounded by people who helped her make what turned out to be the right decision for her and her family. And she was able to find credible information on the vaccine. What credible sources do you point your patients to regarding COVID-19 vaccines, especially with regards to fertility?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (27:37):
So in general, I usually point people to the CDC. When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, they're usually the most up to date resource. With regards to fertility, families, parenting, pregnancy. I definitely recommend the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG. That's who I work for. They have done a and continue to do a phenomenal job in responding not only to the evolving evidence around COVID-19 and obstetrics and gynecologic patients, but also in responding to patient concerns and doctors' concerns. And so there's a lot of great resources on there. There's seven reasons why you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. There's excellent statements on fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine, all of which are available on the website. So I highly recommend visiting for all of those who are looking for information.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (28:30):
Thank you. Bringing it back to Paige. Paige is an older mom. And we do know that obstetrical complications are more likely to happen in women who are older when compared to their younger counterparts. So Paige went through IVF and for women in similar situation or similar age, what advice do you give them about staying healthy in today's world?

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (28:55):
Typically, people who are undergoing IVF may be doing so because either they're a little bit older and trying to get pregnant, or they have a health condition that's making it more difficult to get pregnant without the help of assisted reproductive technology. And so optimizing your health in whatever way possible, I think, is really helpful. I want to just make a statement that you are not old if you're doing IVF, you're not old if you're advanced maternal age. There's quite a bit of ageism that happens around fertility. And so it's really a measure of how well your ovaries are functioning. It doesn't mean anything about you or your life, or how good of a mom or a parent that you can be. I think that in terms of being healthy in today's world, it can be really, really challenging. I think getting all of your vaccines, following public health guidance, making sure that you're doing as best as you can to avoid smoking and drinking and trying to eat healthy. Those are all things that can be challenging to do in today's world.
And so also giving yourself grace. I think taking care of your mental health is an incredibly important part of staying healthy in today's world. Particularly if you are someone who is struggling with infertility and either deciding to undergo assisted reproductive technology and IVF, or undergoing it. Really taking care of your mental health and paying attention to the feelings that you're having and allowing yourself to feel the overwhelm that is natural with all of those things and getting support from that. And I hope that folks who have support systems are tapping into those and those that don't are able to seek those external resources.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (30:29):
You just said a word that I use quite often, which is grace. And I think that's very important for all of us to extend ourselves some grace during this very complicated and unique time. And for somebody like Paige, who was experiencing, understandably so, decision fatigue to extend herself some grace and for all of us to do the same. So thank you for saying that. I think that's a very important point, a very important message. Thank you, Dr. Villavicencio, for being here today, sharing your knowledge with us, your expertise and experience, and also for bringing your health-equity lens to this discussion, which I think is very important and very much needed.

Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio (31:07):
Thank you so much for having me. I've really loved being able to talk about this subject and thank you so much for this podcast. I think it's going to really make a huge impact in the way that people view COVID-19 and pregnancy and the other struggles that are going on in the modern world.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (31:27):
Thanks for listening to this episode of Labor of Love. In our next episode, we're going to talk about the common myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccination. We're going to hear from a mom who had a difficult time early on in the pandemic trying to decide to get vaccinated while pregnant due to lack of concrete guidance at the time.

Speaker 4 (31:47):
When you're pregnant and when you're having a baby, your entire feed fills up with influencer moms and influencer pregnant people and baby-raising, sleep tips and feeding tips and this and that. It is a wild west, and there is so much misinformation.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (32:05):
Then we'll talk with a maternal health expert to hear the latest recommendations and dismantle common myths about vaccinations.

Speaker 5 (32:13):
This is where, again, information is critical. And for many of my patients, they would come in with a list of things that they read on social media and not always from the most reliable source. So I would have a conversation with them and just review what they read and provide them with the accurate information. Many times it's providing the right information from the right source that gives patients peace of mind.

Dr. Vero Pimentel (32:46):
Until then, if you know a pregnant woman, who's not sure about getting vaccinated or not, share this podcast with them. And rate and review this podcast whatever you're listening. To learn more about these recommendations and for additional resources, visit the following websites, and This is Dr. Vero Pimentel, your fellow mom, OB-GYN physician and host of Labor of Love. You can find me on Twitter, @DrVeroPimentel, or on Instagram, @drvero4moms. Thank you. (silence)