As the latest wave of Covid-19 sweeps the country, pregnant women are being forgotten once again. Not so long ago, women were receiving mixed messages from healthcare providers on whether or not the new vaccines were safe in pregnancy, with many being actively discouraged. This resulted in disproportionately high numbers of otherwise healthy unvaccinated pregnant women in hospital with severe disease, and led to deaths.
Now we are in the midst of another wave. I am 37 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and I am not eligible for the fourth dose. I feel very vulnerable due to the lack of free testing and mask mandates. My midwife tells me that Covid-19 can increase the risk of blood clotting in the placenta, which can lead to stillbirth, and so pregnant women who catch it are prescribed blood thinners based on their risk. But surely prevention should come before management?
Then there’s the worry about my partner catching it, in which case he would still be allowed to go to the pub, but not be allowed into the hospital with me. The prospect of having to give birth alone terrifies me, and was a reality that resulted in trauma for many women in the previous lockdowns.
It’s no wonder that my “due in July” chat group is full of desperate women who are sick and worried. As my due date approaches, we feel we have no choice but to isolate. When are we going to prioritise maternity care and acknowledge the huge toll that this pandemic continues to take on the physical and mental health of new mothers?