In this series, we share stories from different mums and dads-to-be about their experience of pregnancy, birth and parenthood in the pandemic. Here Alexia tells us how her severe sickness and lockdown made her pregnancy incredibly lonely, getting coronavirus at 38 weeks pregnant and her tips and advice for other mums-to-be.
My husband and I got married last August. We had been together for nearly nine years and had always talked about having children. We flew out to New York for our honeymoon and when we arrived back in London, around two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. It happened so quickly. I was thankful and so excited.
The first two weeks flew by and I felt completely fine and normal. I went back to work after our amazing summer.
"Life felt good. But then things took a turn, and everything changed."
Throughout my pregnancy, I had hyperemesis gravidarum. A severe form of pregnancy sickness. I felt constantly nauseous and developed food aversions. Most days, I ate nothing at all and would be sick around 10 to 15 times a day. Through the constant googling of advice on pregnancy sickness, I read that tablets could help. I discussed getting the tablets with my husband and we both agreed that they were something I should try. Of course, the decision wasn’t taken lightly.
I made an appointment with my GP and I was prescribed an anti-sickness tablet. Over the next few weeks, I was being sick so much that I became severely dehydrated. My GP advised me to go to hospital. I was put on a drip to re-hydrate me and I was on high doses of anti-sickness medication. These trips to hospital became frequent and I was signed off work.
"It was the most awful time of my life, when it was supposed to be the happiest. The sickness only stopped when I was about five months pregnant."
I did still feel under the weather most days. I couldn't eat properly or socialise. I spent most weekends at home with my husband because I was afraid of going out and being sick. I hardly got to spend any time with friends and family during my pregnancy because of hyperemesis gravidarum.
The start of lockdown…
I work in a primary school and there was lots of talk about lockdown and COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic. Our school began to prepare homework packs for the children when it looked like lockdown could be a possibility.
In March, lockdown began, and my midwife advised me to stay home and not go to work. I was supposed to work right up until the end of my pregnancy so I was disappointed.
"Combined with my bad sickness, I pretty much spent the whole of my pregnancy alone."
Even though, I hardly had contact with anyone, at the start of lockdown, I developed a cough out of the blue. It was mild but I was also breathless. I put this down to being 38 weeks pregnant rather than coronavirus. The cough lasted for 15 days exactly.
When I started to realise that I had coronavirus, I called 111 straight away. I was told to self-isolate for 14 days (something I had already been doing). At the time of my symptoms, tests were only available for key workers and mainly NHS staff.
Once the cough cleared up and a month had passed, I took an antibody test. It showed I had antibodies to coronavirus - confirming that I did have the virus.
"At the time, it felt very scary. I worried about the health of my unborn baby. However, I was lucky enough to have mild symptoms and Harry is absolutely healthy and fine."
Giving birth in a pandemic
We did an NCT antenatal course but, of course, like everything else during lockdown, it happened over Zoom. The classes were the highlight of my week and the people I met have become friends for life!
"Those midnight conversations on WhatsApp with babies who are weeks apart in age are completely priceless. It’s fantastic to know other people who are going through the same thing as you."
Having the baby during a global pandemic was…interesting. My husband couldn’t come into the hospital until I was 4cm dilated. He then had to leave two hours after our son was born! Visitors were not allowed and when Harry was born, households were not allowed to mix.
Having Harry come into our lives has been so special and amazing. He is the greatest gift there could be. Despite my tough pregnancy and the world going through a global pandemic, he has given us so many reasons to smile. He is worth all of the sickness!
Alexia's tips and advice for mums-to-be
- You can’t have enough muslin cloths!
- Be relaxed around your baby… they can sense the fear!
- Expect that some days your plans won’t happen. You’ll just have to give your little one the extra cuddles.
- Accept help when its offered to you. Having a one-hour nap while somebody else minds your baby can make the world of difference.
- Get outside. Even if it’s just for a 15 minute walk around the block – do it. The fresh air will do both you and baby the world of good!
If you'd like to share your story of pregnancy, birth or parenting in the pandemic, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
Interactive, engaging and social, our live online antenatal course is a great way for you to meet other local parents, and get essential unbiased information and knowledge about pregnancy, birth and early days with your baby.
Read the NHS stay at home advice.
The NHS website has a specific pregnancy and coronavirus page, which has all the latest information and guidance about support services.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have produced information on coronavirus for pregnant women and their families.
The Department of Health and Social Care website is being updated daily with guidance and what the government is doing about the virus.
For more information about coronavirus in various languages see here.