Expecting moms have enough to worry about without adding in a pandemic, but that is the reality of pregnancy in 2021.
"The hardest part has been being scared all the time," Dr. Ronnie Lozano said.
Lozano is a fourth-year OBGYN resident who is 36 weeks pregnant with twin boys.
"Being scared because this was IVF pregnancy, we obviously worked really hard to get pregnant. It took us a long time to get here," she said. "And then to see all the pregnancy complications being a resident in OBGYN and then now you're adding on a pandemic. And so, you're always scared."
Lozano's pregnancy is considered high-risk and being pregnant also puts her in the high-risk category for COVID-19.
She said she chose to get vaccinated for a few different reasons.
"I am a health care worker. I do deal with positive COVID patients. My husband's a health care worker. He's also around positive COVID patients ... and I see all of the complications from COVID in pregnancy. I treat these women. And so, I was in Dr. Ehrig's, our high-risk doctor, office almost every day when the option of the vaccine came up," Lozano said.
Dr. Jessica Ehrig is a maternal-fetal specialist and the maternity director for Baylor Scott & White.
"When we talk about COVID in pregnancy, we know that pregnant patients are at increased risk of worse outcomes than their non-pregnant counterparts that are the same age," Ehrig said. "Pregnant patients are more likely to end up in the ICU. They're more likely to end up on a ventilator. They're more likely to die from COVID. And as far as pregnancy goes, they're more likely to have a preterm birth, and we know that that can have long term effects for [the] baby."
Ehrig said, unfortunately, pregnant women were excluded from the COVID vaccine trials.
"The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognize and have advocated for pregnant women to be included in these trials. But they weren't. They still think that with the review of the science that it's still safe for these pregnant moms. But then when we look at the trials, there actually were a couple of women that got pregnant and got the vaccine, as happens with reproductive-age women. Unintended pregnancies happen. And when we look at those pregnancies, there were no increased risk of pregnancy complications in the patients that receive the vaccine," Ehrig said. "In fact, the only reported miscarriages were actually in the placebo group, the group that got injected with just saline, not the actual vaccine."
Ehrig went on to say that doctors have been recommending pregnant women get vaccines for decades, pointing to the flu shot and the Tdap vaccine.
"When mom builds a response, an antibody response and immune response to the vaccine, she actually can pass those antibodies, that body's protective mechanism, through the placenta to [the] baby. So, her getting a vaccine not only protects her but also can protect the baby," Ehrig said.
Protecting her future kids was another deciding factor for Lozano.
"The thought of me being able to give antibodies to these boys and provide passive immunity is the most I could do. Right? That's the very, very best I can do," Lozano said. "And so, that went into making this decision just a little bit easier. It's about me, but it's also about them."
Both Lozano and Ehrig recommended women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant consult with their doctors before making a decision on whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
To see a question and answer session with Ehrig about pregnancy and the vaccine, click here.
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