Obstetrician Gauthami Bhagwanani calls on pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine



An obstetrician working in one Sydney’s COVID-19 hotspots has called on pregnant women to get vaccinated, saying it’s “heartbreaking” delivering babies pre-term and separating newborns from mothers because of the virus.Gauthami Bhagwanani is the birthing unit director at Liverpool Hospital and appeared alongside Gladys Berejiklian at the Premier’s COVID media briefing to describe what she had seen first hand.Since the Delta outbreak began in June there had been a number of confirmed cases of pregnant women being placed in intensive care and having to deliver early so they could be ventilated.Dr Bhagwanani explained how pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 had double the risk of having a stillbirth or being admitted to intensive care.She also said pregnant women had a higher risk of needing a ventilator or needing a pre-term delivery.Currently, pregnant women are a priority group to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians recommends women receive the Pfizer or Moderna shots at any stage of pregnancy.It advises that it is also safe for women trying to conceive and those who are breastfeeding to receive AstraZeneca.Dr Bhagwanani refuted claims that had spread on social media that the vaccine could cause fertility issues and warned that “what poses the greatest risk to women and their babies is not the vaccine —  it is the COVID-19 infection itself”.Here’s an edited transcript of what she said.I’m the birthing unit director at Liverpool Hospital, which is one of the COVID referral centres in the south-west. I’m an obstetrician and I’ve been caring for pregnant women throughout this pandemic, including women who have been very unwell from the COVID-19 infection. I am here today to encourage all women who are planning pregnancy, who are currently pregnant and those who are breastfeeding to please get their COVID vaccines. Currently the two vaccines recommended for pregnant women are those from Pfizer, which is already available, and the one from Moderna, which will be available soon. Outside of pregnancy, all of the vaccines are safe and this includes AstraZeneca and you can have this if you planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding.The concept of vaccination for women in pregnancy is not new. For many years, we have routinely vaccinated women against influenza and whooping cough. I understand the concept of COVID vaccination can be concerning to some and it seems we have approved and implemented the vaccine very quickly, but the technology behind the development of the vaccine has been around for about 10 years. Many women are worried that the side effects of the vaccine in pregnancy have not been researched enough. I want to reassure everyone that the safety profile of the vaccines in pregnancy has been studied extensively.In Australia we have had the added advantage of seeing the effects of the vaccine in pregnant women overseas. Over 100,000 women were included in studies from the US and the UK.These have not demonstrated any adverse outcomes for your baby. The vaccine does not increase the risk of miscarriage or structural abnormalities for your baby.It does not affect your fertility. What poses the greatest risk to women and their babies is not the vaccine — it is the COVID-19 infection itself. Having COVID-19 while you’re pregnant means you’re at double the risk of needing an ICU admission, you have an increased risk of needing invasive ventilation and you’re at increased risk of requiring a pre-term delivery. It also doubles your risk of stillbirth. Most of the women who have been admitted at our hospital are unvaccinated and none of them have been fully vaccinated. By receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy or when you are breastfeeding, not only are you protecting yourself but also your baby and the rest of why our family at home. The anti-bodies you produce after having the vaccination can be passed on to your baby and offer some protection to your baby as well. By receiving the vaccine, you will also help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 to your other children and other members of your family. Likewise, other members of your family – including the support person who is coming with you at the time of delivery – need to be vaccinated in order to protect you and your baby.It has been heartbreaking to see women and their families separated due to COVID. It has been heartbreaking to deliver babies pre-term because their mums have been so unwell. It has been heartbreaking to separate the babies from their mothers and fathers because they need admission to the nursery and their parents have been too unwell to visit them.I am in new mum myself. Most of us spend a lot of time ensuring we are eating right things, exercising, doing all the things we can to provide our babies with the best start in life. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing that you can do to protect your baby in this climate. Loading form…



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