Childbirth isn’t meant to happen in the intensive care unit. Ultrasounds to listen to a baby’s beating heart aren’t supposed to happen with an expectant mom who is unconscious.
But Calgary obstetrician Dr. Stephanie Cooper said that’s happening inside Alberta’s hospitals as a growing number of unvaccinated pregnant women are hospitalized with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
“This is unprecedented, alarming and frightening, especially for the mom alone without support of family members around.”
“We need to make it real so they will think hard abut the vaccine, even if they’re hesitant,” Cooper said.
Along with information online by Alberta Health Services regarding vaccines and pregnancy, Cooper has launched her own education campaign, creating stickers and buttons for the awareness for her pregnant patients.
She said heartbreaking conversations with her patients compelled her to do something.
“I have had talks with my patients and say: ‘You’re getting sicker, if you go to ICU and on a ventilator, you will be asleep and while you sleep, we may have to deliver the baby and we will take videos and photos and do all we can but when you wake up you make not be able to see your baby,” Cooper said.
“Having that conversation with a woman while she’s gasping for breath is awful and they are terrified.”
According to obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Colin Birch, there have been 16 pregnant women since August 2021 admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms.
“Every patient admitted to ICU in Calgary and pregnant was unvaccinated,” Birch said.
“The first wave we saw nobody in ICU, the second wave we saw four, the third we saw 12 and fourth we see 16. You can see the rise.”
This past August, five babies were born pre-term.
“There are agonizing decisions. The decision we make to deliver the baby prematurely for the betterment of the mother is an agonizing decision,” Birch said.
COVID-19: Alberta doctors alarmed by spike in unvaccinated pregnant people ending up in ICUs
“We do a lot of soul-searching. I ask myself: ‘Did I make the right decision delivering baby prematurely?’ Recognizing complications that can occur but realizing I delivered the baby because the ICU managements have got to the end of their possible managements and this is the last resort.
“I don’t want to sound dramatic but that’s a huge decision.”
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New mom Tatyana Rideout was admitted to hospital with complications from COVID-19 after giving birth to her son Bobby.
“It was tough and I thought I made it this long, I thought I would make it,” Rideout said.
“The plan was to get vaccinated afterwards. I do wish I was vaccinated.”
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