A top obstetrician from southwest Sydney has urged pregnant women and their families to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or risk severe complications and emotional pain at birth.
Dr Gau Bhagwanani, the birthing unit director at Liverpool Hospital, said she had personally seen the grim implications of mothers-to-be contracting Covid-19.
NSW recorded 1259 new local cases on Wednesday.
“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,” Dr Bhagwanani said.
“(I) encourage all women who are planning pregnancy, who are currently pregnant and those who are breastfeeding to please get their Covid vaccines.”
Dr Bhagwanani said it had been traumatic for mothers to be separated from their newborn babies and family members after birth, because they had the virus.
“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,” she said.
“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 a 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.”
Dr Bhagwanani said it was the virus, not the vaccine, that posed the biggest risk.
“What poses the greatest risk to women and their babies is not the vaccine. It is the COVID-19 infection itself,” she said.
“Having COVID-19 whiles 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.”
The birthing unit manager also provided peace of mind for pregnant women who may have anxieties about 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,” she said.
“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.”
NSW now has 80 per cent of its eligible population inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine, it was also announced on Wednesday.