It’s not every day that a pregnant woman gets a standing ovation from her labor and delivery team—especially before giving birth. But that’s what happened when Lindsay—a Dallas mom of two and the owner of a childcare company—informed her healthcare team that she was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Lindsay says her labor and delivery team members were thrilled that she was vaccinated because it offered extra protection for her and her newborn as well as for them and their families. According to the CDC, pregnant and recently pregnant people are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. They also face a higher risk of having a preterm birth, when the baby is born before 37 weeks.
As of September 18, 2021, only 31% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated by the time they went into labor, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. As doctors nationwide reported an increase in the number of unvaccinated pregnant women becoming hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19, the CDC strengthened its vaccination recommendation during pregnancy. NPR reported in August that vaccination during pregnancy has become especially urgent in Texas, where the highly contagious delta variant makes up more than 75% of new COVID-19 cases.
Lindsay’s pandemic childbirth story.
When Lindsay relocated from New York City to Dallas in May 2018 so the family could be closer to her husband’s roots and relatives, she had no idea how many firsts she would experience.
“My two boys, who are now five-and-a-half and three-and-a-half, were both born in Manhattan,” Lindsay says. “Lucy was my first Texas baby, so this pregnancy kind of felt like a first-time birth and I felt like a first-time mom. I was in a new state, a new city and I had to find a new doctor. With coronavirus, there was a combination of things to be concerned about.”
Adding to her worries, Lindsay’s first two pregnancies had come with challenges. Unable to get pregnant on her own, both boys were conceived while she was on fertility treatments. Her first delivery required a C-section. Her second son was born prematurely and had to spend time in the NICU. Maternal age was another factor. Carrying and delivering a baby at 38 would put Lindsay in the high-risk category. Trying for a third child and choosing a new doctor seemed like a huge task.
“I had been having some issues and had been unable to get pregnant for a year,” says Lindsay. “Last October, I stopped taking fertility drugs and made an appointment with a fertility specialist at Medical City Dallas for January. However, in December we got a wonderful surprise when I got pregnant on my own for the first time!”
Seeking support for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
With her positive pregnancy test, Lindsay’s search for an OB/GYN began in earnest.
“I was going back and forth about which doctor to use,” she says. “I wanted someone who was pro VBAC.”
In addition to finding a doctor who supported VBAC—vaginal birth after cesarean—Lindsay had to be sure the hospital where she would deliver offered a Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)—the highest level of newborn care available.
“I was very nervous about going into preterm labor like my last baby,” says Lindsay. “I was also so scared to get sick with COVID and go into labor early.”
After researching options, Lindsay found her doctor and chose her delivery location—Medical City Dallas’ Women’s Hospital. Medical City Dallas has both a Level IV NICU and a Level IV Maternal Designation, the highest level of care designated by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy: No question for her.
Lindsay was vaccinated for COVID-19 right after her first trimester. She and her husband did extensive research and relied on advice from her OB/GYN.
“I was always going to get it,” she says. “If I got COVID, who would take care of my other babies? I didn’t want to do that to them. Getting COVID versus the what-if of the vaccine … I was so scared to get sick, to go into labor early, to not be able to take care of my other kids. It was a no-brainer.”
Despite support from her husband and physician, Lindsay often felt alone in her decision to get vaccinated, even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recommends it.
“There’s lots of misinformation online about the vaccine, that it can affect your fertility. What I’ve read doesn’t support that,” Lindsay says. “But no one else I knew who was pregnant was getting it. I’ve had the Tdap and flu shots and those can pass on good antibodies to the baby—it made sense that the COVID shot would, too, and we hoped it was true.”
“Plus, I was older and feeling nauseous and not that great,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine having coronavirus on top of that. At 38 years old and the primary caregiver for my kids, the thought of not being able to care for them was earthshattering for me.”
The ovation Lindsay received from her care team during her delivery was very encouraging.
“When the nurses asked me if I was vaccinated and started clapping, they said it was because so many moms aren’t and that puts the moms and babies at risk,” she says. “I already knew the stats that so many pregnant women in Texas weren’t getting the vaccine, but just to hear it from the nurses was affirming.”
Lindsay says the side effects from her vaccine were minimal.
“I felt great,” she says.” I took the Pfizer shot and my husband took Moderna. I was prepared to feel awful, so I got in bed and had him came home early to take care of the boys, but all I had was a little headache and a sore arm and nothing else.”
“Now, I’m nursing so I’m still passing antibodies to Lucy,” Lindsay says. “I’ll probably nurse longer because that way she’ll be better protected.”
The CDC confirms that vaccination during pregnancy builds antibodies that might help protect unborn babies, and breastfeeding may also pass along antibodies through breastmilk.
Delivering at Medical City Dallas: Girl energy.
As the oldest of five girls, Lindsay could have felt her own family’s absence more strongly as she delivered her first baby girl. Instead, along with her husband’s comforting presence in the delivery room, there was something else.
“When I gave birth the delivery room was full of girls—the nurses, the pediatrician, my OB/GYN,” says Lindsay. “Lucy came so quickly … just three pushes after I was dilated and then sheer relief. Relief before happiness … that she was out, that she was safe and we were healthy.”
Postpartum at Medical City Dallas: Her own room!
You’ve heard that Texas isn’t New York City? Lindsay couldn’t be happier about that.
“One of the highlights about delivering at Medical City Dallas for me was that I was going to have my own room to recover in!” Lindsay says. “In New York, you don’t get your own room. I had to share a room and a bathroom with strangers and all the germs.”
“My other two pregnancies were kind of crazy, with the room sharing and the C-section and the premature birth and the NICU. This one was magical because I had Lucy with me. In New York, husbands can’t spend the night because there’s no room. Here in Texas my husband could have, but I sent him home to be with the boys overnight. I just wanted to watch Golden Girls, eat at night and have my own space with Lucy. It was so wonderful—paradise for a new mom!”
“It was also special to have a few hours with my husband to eat together. The celebratory dinner offered for parents was delicious … all the food was. I tend to feed everyone else and forget to feed myself, so ordering from the menu and having the food brought in was so nice. I felt so taken care of and moms need that. I didn’t want to leave. I still fantasize about going back there!”
Learn more about the amenities available —including chef-prepared meals — for a personalized childbirth experience at Medical City Dallas’ Women’s Hospital.
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