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Two First-Time Mums On Becoming A Mother During A Pandemic

Sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement
Sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement
Two First-Time Mums On Becoming A Mother During A Pandemic

Featured Image Credit: NHS England and NHS Improvement

Becoming a mother is a truly life-changing event. Many say it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them but also the most challenging. Incredible yet tiring, joyful yet overwhelming, and that’s before you add on the added pressure of a global pandemic.

We spoke to two first-time mums, Beth from Essex and Hannah from Bradford, who became mums at different stages of the pandemic, to find out what it’s been like raising a baby in the time of covid-19.

Of course, learning the ropes as a mum is difficult even in normal times but the pandemic has added extra things to consider. For example, the question of whether or not to get the covid-19 vaccine and any potential effects it might have on mother or baby.

Both Beth and Hannah have had a covid vaccine; Beth at nine months postpartum while she was still breastfeeding and Hannah got her booster jab while she was pregnant.

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An NHS researcher in childhood and families, Hannah gave birth to Morgan in February 2022. Just a few weeks into motherhood, Hannah is still very much finding her own rhythm as a mum as we all continue to recover from the impact of covid-19.

Hannah, whose colleagues actually worked on the vaccine trials and rollout, spoke about the importance of getting information from trusted sources of which the NHS is of course the best for advice and reassurance. She said: “At first, they weren’t sure whether pregnant women should get the vaccine or not. The misinformation that’s been shared on the internet hasn’t helped either.

NHS England and NHS Improvement
NHS England and NHS Improvement

“[The vaccines] have been tested, they’ve been researched and we now know that they are safe. There have been thousands of women that have been vaccinated and we’ve seen the potential consequences of not having the vaccine. The latest figures show that the majority of people that have been admitted to hospital, particularly to the ICU with covid-19, the majority of them are unvaccinated.”

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E-commerce merchandiser Beth found out she was pregnant at the end of 2019 and spent the majority of her pregnancy under lockdown restrictions. For her, one of the hardest things was having to go through much of the experience without her partner like some of the appointments and after giving birth in hospital due to covid restrictions.

Beth had initially been concerned about potential side effects of the vaccine but after speaking to her midwife, she decided to get it. She said: “When you’re a mum you need your energy to just get on and do things for your child and because I breastfed too I was worried about what effect it would have on my supply. Thankfully everything was ok and I think sometimes the thought process behind [getting the vaccine] is worse than actually the experience itself.”

Beth has now had two doses of the vaccine but hasn’t had the booster yet as, when she was booked to get it, she actually caught covid and so has had to wait. Her partner, who hadn’t been vaccinated, caught covid at the same time and suffered with much more serious symptoms.

“He had it way worse than I did. So it definitely shows that it does work. He was completely wiped out, like real flu, body aches, everything.”

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NHS England and NHS Improvement
NHS England and NHS Improvement

Hannah had two doses of the vaccine pre-pregnancy and the booster while she was pregnant but didn’t have side effects after any of the doses. She said: “By the time I was offered the booster, there was enough research out there that I didn’t feel nervous about getting it. And, obviously, working in the NHS I’m surrounded by all the information. It was a no-brainer for me.

“In terms of the vaccine, I’m very much pro choice. But what I would encourage people to do is to look at the NHS guidance, don’t go looking on YouTube or through Instagram or other social media because there is a lot of wrong information out there and there are people putting information out there for the wrong reasons.

“Some people just want to cause worry among people, there are a lot of trolls on the internet, other people have their own reasons for wanting to put these things out there. 

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“But the NHS, we’re there to care for people, the midwives, the nurses, the doctors, the immunologists and virologists that have worked on these vaccines, they’re doing it to help people. They’re not doing it for any other reason, there is no conspiracy, they’re not getting anything out of it apart from that they’re helping people.

“We hear this a lot - ‘I've done my own research’. It scares me when people say that because no you haven’t, you haven’t run a trial, you may have read some research but you haven’t done your own research. So, speak to someone in the NHS, speak to the midwives, speak to the doctors.”

So what’s the official advice for mums-to-be and those who are breastfeeding?

Covid-19 vaccines have been given to thousands of pregnant women and there is now extensive evidence to show that they are safe and the risks posed by the virus itself are far greater.

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Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from covid-19 and those who are symptomatic are up to three times more likely to give birth prematurely. Almost all pregnant women who were hospitalised or admitted to intensive care with covid-19 were unvaccinated.

There is also no evidence to suggest that the covid-19 vaccine (or any other vaccine) has any impact on fertility for either men or women. So it’s really important for expectant, recent and want-to-be mothers to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

For more information about the covid-19 vaccine for expectant and recent mums, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/

Topics: NHS, Health

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