DES MOINES, Iowa – Even with new COVID-19 case counts decreasing in Iowa, doctors are still advising expectant mothers to do what they can to avoid the virus.
Jodi Long is now a mother of two after giving birth to Jaira Capri on July 6.
“I remained healthy throughout the labor and delivery portion,” Long recalls. “It was after she was born where things got a little dicey.”
Long went home to be with her family of four and came back for what she thought was just a check-up.
“And they took my blood pressure reading and the next thing I know the doctor came rushing in. I think he barely introduced himself and said ‘You are very sick Jodi. You’re at the risk of having a stroke or seizure any minute,'” Long said. “And my blood pressure at that point was 198 over 100, which normally should be like 120 over 80.”
That landed Long back in the hospital for a few days. Doctors diagnosed her with severe post-partum preeclampsia, a blood pressure condition.
“It was so scary because I felt fine,” Long said. “And the doctor said, ‘You’re the scariest type of patient because you have no symptoms.'”
But then she thought back to an earlier diagnosis she received when she was pregnant.
“When you’re going through something so life-changing, you’re grasping at straws like what caused this? What was wrong? And I told my doctor ‘Hey, I did have COVID early on in my pregnancy,’ and they were like hmm.”
It was a topic Long had even reported on herself when she spoke with Dr. Melinda Hansen, an OB/GYN from UnityPoint Health.
“I would say is that this is evolving information,” Dr. Hansen explained, “but there have been emerging studies that have suggested patients who have had symptomatic COVID could be at risk of preterm labor, preeclampsia which is a blood pressure condition during pregnancy, and unfortunately stillbirth during pregnancy.”
Doctors continue to wait on research to see if COVID puts women more at risk.
“It’s tempting to look back and maybe that’s because the patient had COVID early in the pregnancy,” Dr. Neil Mandsager, with MercyOne Perinatal Care, said. “But without large numbers, it’s really hard to draw definitive conclusions as to whether COVID played a role in that.”
Long hopes her experience serves as a reminder for moms to advocate for themselves and their babies.
“You want to be overly cautious,” Long said. “And hey I noticed this, can you check me out? And then they can say, yeah we can keep a close eye on you because I know without a doubt if I hadn’t gone into that appointment, it would’ve been a much different outcome.”