Pregnant women have been implored to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with health authorities and doctors warning the disease can cause serious complications for both them and their baby.
NSW Health used yesterday's COVID-19 press conference to renew calls for new mums, breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women and anyone planning a pregnancy to come forward for vaccination, with a senior obstetrician talking about the "heartbreaking" health consequences of catching COVID-19 while pregnant.
Obstetrician Dr Gauthami Bhagwanani, birthing unit director at Liverpool Hospital - one of the COVID referral centres for pregnant women - said she had been caring for pregnant women throughout the pandemic, "including women who have been very unwell from the COVID-19 infection".
Dr Bhagwanani, who said she was a new mum herself, encouraged all women who were planning a pregnancy, currently pregnant and breastfeeding to get the COVID vaccine.
She said the "concept of vaccination" for pregnant women was not new and while she understood it seemed the COVID-19 vaccination was "approved and implemented very quickly", the technology behind it had been around for about 10 years.
"I want to reassure everyone that the safety profile of the vaccines in pregnancy has been studied extensively," she said
Dr Bhagwanani said the vaccine did not increase the risk of miscarriage or "structural abnormalities for your baby", or cause infertility.
"What poses the greatest risk to women and their babies is not the vaccine but it is the COVID-19 infection itself," she said.
"Having COVID-19 whilst you're pregnant means that you are at double the risk of needing an ICU admission, you have an increased risk of needing invasive ventilation and you are at an increased risk of requiring a preterm delivery. It also doubles the risk of stillbirth."
Dr Bhagwanani also recounted the "heartbreaking" consequences of women catching COVID while pregnant.
"It has been heartbreaking to see women and their families being separated due to COVID. It has been heartbreaking to deliver babies preterm because their mums have been so unwell," she said.
"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.
"Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best thing you can do to protect your baby in this climate."
Dr Amy Manos, a medical registrar at St George Hospital, became one of the first pregnant women in NSW to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 earlier this year.
She got her first COVID shot on June 10, the day after Australian health officials recommended pregnant women getting vaccinated.