VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Tens of thousands of women have reported healthy births after receiving the COVID vaccine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care, recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Even so, many pregnant women still question if it’s safe to get the COVID vaccine.
Rachel Pasch of Virginia Beach is a first responder at an urgent care. When she was pregnant with her third child, she found out she would be interacting with potential COVID-19 patients more. That put her at a higher risk for exposure.
“I brought the idea up to my husband on what he thought of me possibly getting the vaccine, because of being exposed to COVID patients at my job. So, we went back and forth on pros and cons on what we thought, talking to a lot of my OBs, because I would see a different [OG-GYN] every time I go in, and also talking to providers that I work with, kind of getting their feel, what they thought, because little to no data. You’re asking as many people as possible to try to get some information about it,” said Pasch.
And if Pasch wasn’t pregnant?
“I would have just totally gotten the vaccine if I wasn’t pregnant,” she said.
So, what was it about the pregnancy that was holding her back?
“Not only are you thinking of yourself, but you’re thinking of your unborn child, so it’s a really hard decision,” she said.
After debating for nearly two months, Pasch and her husband reached a decision.
“We ended up deciding on getting it because doing the pros and cons of me getting COVID, what would happen to her, versus me getting the injection, what would happen to her,” Pasch said.
So, in her third trimester, she and her husband got the vaccine.
“I was very fortunate, and I didn’t have any symptoms whatsoever with both injections, which was nice, and still, even up to her birth, I never had any problems,” said Pasch.
Pasch had a scheduled C-section, and her daughter Cadence was born healthy. The morning after the C-section, Pasch started to get a tickle in her throat that slowly turned into a cough.
“And let me tell you, a cough after abdominal surgery does not go well together,” said Pasch.
As this new mother started to feel worse, she started to wonder why she was sick.
“I get a text and I’m being told that I was exposed to somebody that was positive for COVID right before I went into the hospital,” she said.
Pasch and her husband let all the nurses know she had been exposed prior to delivering. They kept Cadence in the hospital room with them rather than sending her down to the nursery. Both Pasch and her husband wore masks.
When they were discharged from the hospital, they took rapid tests before the baby’s first pediatrician appointment. Rachel tested positive. Her husband was negative. So, they set up a virtual appointment and explained to the pediatrician what happened.
“The biggest thing that she was really recommending was for me to avoid my daughter, and you know, as a breast-feeding mother, just having a newborn, needing that skin on skin, that bonding, like, she’s telling me I can’t do it. We finished our appointment with her. We got off the phone. I immediately started bawling. Unfortunately, I do have postpartum anxiety and depression from after my second son. So, of course, worst-case scenario comes in my mind of, if my daughter gets COVID, I’m going to lose her. I’m so scared,” she said.
Rachel decided to keep breastfeeding. In the meantime, her husband tested positive for COVID-19 after showing mild symptoms, and so did both of their little boys.
Do you know who never showed any symptoms? Baby Cadence. Not a cough or a sniffle for the baby who was barely two weeks old. Then came the next pediatrician appointment.
“[The pediatrician] verified with me, she was like, ‘You got the COVID vaccine, right?’ and I was like, ‘Yes.’ And she was like, ‘And you’re a breastfeeding mother?’ and I said yes. And she’s like, ‘Pretty sure that combination right there is what is helping her from getting sick.'”
Nine weeks later, Cadence still has never developed any symptoms of COVID. The entire Pasch family has recovered from COVID-19, and after three and a half weeks, is out of quarantine.
“I definitely feel like we made the right decision. Definitely, definitely, I’m glad I ended up getting the COVID vaccine,” said Pasch.
The CDC emphasizes the decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should be a shared decision among a woman, her care partners, and her medical provider. Rachel agrees and says her best advice for expecting moms after gathering all information is to “make sure it’s your decision and not anybody else’s.”