More pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hospitals are seeing an alarming number of pregnant women seriously sick from COVID-19.

Experts are also seeing good news regarding the safety of pregnant and postpartum women getting vaccinated.

Dr. Kevin Ault, an OBGYN at the University of Kansas Health Sytem, is a member of the Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Ault said COVID-19 is getting worse for pregnant women.

“There’s more and more data that links it to bad birth outcomes such as still birth, pre-eclampsia,” Ault said.

At the same time, Ault said the ACIP is seeing good early results from the 35,000 pregnant and vaccinated women it’s been monitoring.

He said the first batch of data shows no increased risk of birth defects, pre-term labor or miscarriage.

Ault said the data also helps show the benefits of getting vaccinated.

“The antibodies that you make, the maternal antibodies cross the placenta and are present in the baby for a few months afterwards,” Ault said.

Lansing resident and new mother Olivia Figueroa-Orkwis said she hopes pregnant women will get vaccinated to avoid the COVID-19 experience she went through while pregnant.

“It was horrible having it, and I didn’t have an incubation case, I wasn’t super bad but it was still difficult to be pregnant,” Figueroa-Orkwis said.

Figueroa-Orkwis said she contracted COVID-19 in Dec. 2020, several months before being eligible to be vaccinated. At nine-months pregnant, she had to be put on oxygen to help her breathe.

She’s grateful her hospital stay only required oxygen and not more intense treatment. As an expectant mother, she said the experience was still terrifying.

“I was less worried about myself and more worried about the effect it would have on him,” Figueroa-Orkwis said about her son, Oliver.

Both Olivia and Oliver are doing great. She said she received her COVID-19 vaccine as soon as she could and hopes other pregnant women will get the shot.

“It’s just worth it to get it, not only for yourself and other people, but for the baby,” Figueroa-Orkwis.

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