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Fishers OB nurse survived COVID-19 during pregnancy, advocates to get vaccinated

Ashley Bridgwaters tested positive for COVID-19 just before delivering her baby.

INDIANAPOLIS — Every time she looks at her nearly 1-year-old son, Henry, Ashley Bridgwaters is thankful — not just because her baby boy is healthy, but because his birth last November was one of the more uncertain times of Bridgewaters’ life. 

A week before little Henry was born, Bridgwaters tested positive for COVID-19 while she was 36 weeks pregnant.

“It was very stressful to have to go in and deliver with COVID, just mentally not knowing what was going to happen to me,” Bridgwaters recalled. 

The now mom of three knows all too well the complications that can develop when someone’s pregnant and gets COVID. That’s because she’s an OB nurse herself and has seen what can happen. 

“Just complications after delivery, from extra bleeding to sometimes being away from their baby and separated if their baby requires additional assistance,” Bridgwaters described. 

Other times, she said complications never factor in, but there’s no telling which way it will go. 

“They test positive with no signs or symptoms," said Bridgewaters. "They have no clue they have it, and then, we have other women that have major complications with it.” 

Bridgwaters is thankful she wasn’t one of those. “I physically did great. I was fine. The mental part of it was very hard for me,” she explained, saying if there had been a COVID vaccine available while she was pregnant, she would have taken it. 

“I understand people when you’re pregnant, you’re sort of a special population. You’re worried about what goes in your body and if it effects your baby," Bridgwaters said. "But I would have been in line for that vaccine, yes."

Hers is an opinion shared by less than half of those who are pregnant in the United States. According to the CDC, only 31 percent of that group are vaccinated, despite recommendations that it’s the safest thing to do while pregnant. 

“I’m a huge believer in risk reduction and harm reduction, and I just think the vaccine is a huge player in that. I think science is there for a reason,” said Bridgwaters. 

That’s why, three months after having COVID-19, Bridgwaters got vaccinated herself. 

“It’s just hard to see pregnant women and postpartum women getting so sick from COVID when there is something that could help them,” she said. 

Bridgwaters hopes more will follow suit and decide to get the vaccine. 

She didn’t have the choice. Now though, others who are pregnant, do. 

“I’m so thankful I did OK. I just think now that there’s a vaccine and if you can prevent yourself from dying and leaving your children and your family, I just think it’s smart to look into and talk to again, trusted medical professionals,” Bridgwaters said.