‘Hold it in, gents’: Semarang health official tells women to postpone pregnancy amid pandemic

Photo illustration.
Photo illustration.

Is it safe to get pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic? One community clinic (puskesmas) in Semarang, Central Java has become the subject of controversy for promoting the idea that pregnancy should be postponed at this time to avoid complications.

A video recently went viral in Indonesia showing a puskesmas official being driven around in a neighborhood as she extols the virtues of pregnancy postponement and contraceptives amid the pandemic through a loudspeaker.



“Remember, early stages of pregnancy are full of risks and potential complications. Your immune system may be compromised. You may get sick and vomit, [opening you up to] COVID-19,” the woman said in the video.

“Postpone your pregnancy. You can get intimate, you can get married, but don’t get pregnant. Remember to delay, ladies, and hold it in, gents. You can get intimate as long as you use contraceptives.”

While the message is appropriate in parts, being told that they can’t get pregnant didn’t sit well with some members of the public, with the viral video receiving backlash.

Semarang Health Agency Head Moch Abdul Hakam yesterday clarified that the puskesmas official’s message was merely an advisory, and not an official policy in the city.

“We admit that the language used by our official was too blunt. We will improve on that when we want to raise awareness in the future,” he said.

The agency has, in fact, published guidelines on keeping healthy during pregnancy prior to this incident going viral.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mother-to-child transmissions of COVID-19 so far seem unlikely. However, the pandemic has presented numerous additional risks and complications to prenatal and postpartum care.

A recent small study of 16 pregnant women with COVID-19 also found that they all had placental damage, limiting the flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus. One pregnancy ended in a miscarriage but the rest of the babies were born healthy and COVID-19 negative.

Read the latest news on Coconuts Jakarta.

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