ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida mother died from COVID-19 before getting a chance to meet her newborn.
Jessica Six, a resident of Pinellas County, contracted the virus in August. Her sister, Stephanie Six, said the 33-year-old stayed at home for about a week before going to the hospital.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus
"She had a sore throat and a cough," Stephanie Six said. "She had to miss her baby shower and everything and quarantine."
Her family said Jessica had trouble breathing. She was placed on a ventilator and doctors delivered her baby by emergency C-section about three weeks ago.
"They tested the baby. She came back fine. She didn't have any COVID symptoms or test positive for COVID or anything. She was actually transported to All Children's Hospital," Stephanie Six said.
Stephanie said her sister's daughter, Kaydence, was born a month early. The baby spent a few days in the hospital but is now home with family.
The 33-year-old mother then died on Sunday. Her family said she suffered from cardiac arrest and a collapsed lung.
"It doesn't feel real. It doesn't feel real at all. One minute, you're here and then the next this happens, you know. It was so unexpected. She was my best friend," Stephanie Six said.
Her family said Jessica was not vaccinated.
Dr. Brooke Ritter with Women's Care Florida urges pregnant women to get vaccinated.
She said pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to people who are not pregnant. She said a pregnant women's immune system is generally suppressed.
"When a pregnant women has pneumonia, her lungs don't have the space to fight off the infection as well. They also don't have the space to provide the oxygen that she needs and the oxygen the baby needs," said Dr. Brooke Ritter with Women's Care Florida.
"The diaphragm is pushed up, the lungs don't have as much space," she added.
She said the vaccine is also safe for women who are breastfeeding.
"When you're pregnant and get the vaccine, it doesn't go to the baby, but the antibodies the mom makes do go to the baby so then when the baby is a newborn they have the protection. Also, the same with breastfeeding. If the mom gets the vaccine when she is breastfeeding, the vaccine doesn't pass through the breast milk, but the mom's antibodies do," Ritter said.
Ritter said pregnant women who contract COVID-19 may need a C-section.
"The main issue we're seeing with COVID and pregnancy is not the baby is getting COVID because we haven't really seen it transmitted through the placenta, but because COVID makes the mom so ill, the baby may need to be delivered early," Ritter said.
Jessica's family is raising money online on a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral expenses. The donations may also go to her children including her newborn baby. Jessica also leaves behind a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old.
"It's difficult. She's so young and so unexpected. We all kept thinking she is going to come home. She is going to fight this," Stephanie Six said.