One Year On: Having a Baby in a Pandemic
Updated: Apr 18, 2021
This time last year I was in bed, extremely unwell with suspected Covid. What made this even worse was the fact that I was in the early weeks of pregnancy. This was the exact time that the seriousness of the global situation was being realised. Lockdown was about to be announced and little did we know that life as we knew it was going to change forever.
You may notice I say suspected Covid. I never actually got tested. This was because initially I was too unwell to leave bed. Following that, I was in a position where me and my husband were perfectly able to self isolate for 14-days without coming into contact with a single person. Testing was not as simple and available at that point as it is now, so there was a degree of ignorance on my part too. There are reasons that I say suspected Covid. I became ill after mixing with individuals who were in contact with Covid patients (pre-adequate PPE). Secondly, the illness itself was unlike any cold or flu I have known. I was shaking uncontrollably with the chills, had extreme nausea and most notably, felt difficulty with my breathing. This was beyond scary for me and my husband, as we were worried whether this would affect my pregnancy. I called 111 to ask advice and was told I would receive a call back. I never did.
Fortunately, I made a recovery and a scan shortly after was able to confirm that everything was ok with baby. But the recovery I made was not complete. I struggle whether to attribute this to the suspected Covid or pregnancy itself, but whatever the reason I was left drastically short of breath for many weeks following the illness.
The best information at the time was from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), who stated the main risk following Covid for a pregnant woman was going into premature labour. The likelihood of this was extremely low, but it was another thing to play on my mind during pregnancy.
The remainder of my pregnancy was affected by the pandemic, the same as for every other pregnant woman. Antenatal classes were non-existent. I attended online versions but this was purely for information, I was not able to make any local Mum friends. However, scan appointments were unaffected - I was able to attend with my husband. In one way I felt extremely lucky that my husband was able to see that life-changing picture on the screen. In another, I saw a busy department with poor social distancing and felt that this could have been a threat to the health of many people, including all the unborn babies. But like most people, the pandemic affected me the most by leaving me in isolation from family, friends and the outside world. Me and my husband were extremely strict in following all of the rules. Since we were not 100% certain I had had Covid, we did not want to put any risk to the baby's well-being. The birth of my baby and the postnatal care I received was also affected by Covid, as was the ability to have baby meet family - some of whom still haven't met our baby to date. I will talk about all of this further in future blog posts.
The bizarre thing about having a baby in this pandemic is that almost nobody saw me while I was pregnant. I am incredibly excited for the prospect of garden meetups when the rules allow. As far as my friends have seen, I was there one minute (not pregnant) and the next time they see me I'll have a relatively large baby! I am beyond lucky that this is the only way that I was affected by the pandemic. My heart really goes out to those who have experienced loss. I know people who have lost close family members. The thought of going through a bereavement at any time, let alone while pregnant, is beyond awful.
To end this post all I will say is that I hope that one year on we are able to remember those we've lost, honour those who have risked their own lives and cherish the babies born during this time. Sending love to my fellow pandemic-parents.