The number of pregnant women ending up in hospitals is going up across the state — and that has become another source of concern for doctors.

“Right now in North Dakota, we have had 13 pregnant women hospitalized with COVID. All of those 13 were unvaccinated,” according to Lisa Clute, executive officer at First District Health Unit.

Cases of pregnant women hospitalized with COVID have risen steadily statewide.

At Sanford Health, at least one pregnant woman is seen with COVID or COVID-related issues daily.

Doctors there are worried about the implications on mother and baby.

“What we know is if you get COVID during pregnancy, in early pregnancy, you’re much more likely to miscarry, much more likely to end up with an early delivery, significantly high risk of fetal demise or stillbirth in late pregnancy, an increased risk of hypertensive conditions that can result in negative pregnancy outcomes,” said Dr. Megan Miller, obstetrician and gynecologist at Sanford Health.

Miller says the biggest concern for pregnant women she has seen at her practice is the long-term effect they perceive vaccines could have on their babies.

She says the vaccines are unlikely to have any adverse effect on babies yet to be born and that the benefit outweighs the risk of both mother and baby catching COVID.

“The vaccine is safe. There’s no increased risk of side effects to mom and baby. The biggest effect is fever and that can be managed with Tylenol. The benefit of getting it in pregnancy is that the baby after delivery will have antibodies, for how long we do not know but I’ve had several patients who have got their newborns tested at six weeks and six months and they still had positive antibodies,” Miller said.

And for women for whom vaccines are not an option, Miller advised them to be extra cautious.

“Ultimately, the vaccine is the best way to protect themselves and we know that some people do not feel comfortable getting it. There are very, very few situations in which we would say it is unsafe for somebody to get it. I guess the best way you can protect yourself is social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, wearing a mask, avoid sick contacts, that type of thing, you know the hardest thing you, you don’t know where you’re going to get it,” she added.

Only last month, the CDC issued vaccination recommendations for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or who may want children in the future.

That’s because hospitals were seeing high numbers of unvaccinated pregnant women with serious COVID cases.

Here in North Dakota health facilities, COVID-19 vaccines are available across the state and if you’re still unsure about getting a shot, authorities advise that speaking to your primary health care provider is a good place to start.