Covid-19 Reproductive Health

#Covid-19: Giving birth during a pandemic creates a slew of challenges

Newborn babies
Written by Soligah Solomons

Labour and the first few weeks of a baby’s life are already a time of great vulnerability. For mothers who gave birth during the Covid-19 pandemic, this time was even more challenging.

Saskja Walters gave birth just before the country went into a national lockdown and recalls the difficulties she faced post-pregnancy. Stuck in a house with a newborn and a young father, while trying to recover from labour was particularly stressful and challenging for the new mom.

As newborn babies are at a greater risk because their immune systems are still vulnerable, the mother told Health-e News that she had to determine which doctor appointments were crucial to attend.

Recovering in isolation

The red tape as a result of travel restrictions during lockdown level five made it much more difficult to make these decisions.

“Check-ups needed to be confirmed and you needed proof in writing that you had an appointment on such a day and time. This information needed to be shown to the staff at the entrance of the hospital before you could enter,” recalled the young mother.

What’s worse, Walters also suffered complications after giving birth, and was admitted to hospital twice. Being in hospital during the pandemic placed her and the baby at risk.

While new mothers usually take their infants to family and friends, relying on their advice and support, the pandemic changed this tradition.

“Because lockdown and all the regulations were all so sudden and so many things had changed, it made it very difficult to have family and friends over to help with the baby,” she said.

Walters fears that the lockdown and restricted movement could have a detrimental effect on the child’s development.

Covid-19 leads to hospital confusion

Caylin Hamilton also gave birth to a baby boy during the pandemic. The baby arrived earlier than expected, and Hamilton had to make last-minute arrangements after the hospital she was meant to deliver in could not accommodate her.

The Melomed Bellville Private Hospital were unable to assist because an earlier delivery had exposed staff Covid-19.

“I was a high-risk patient and I lost a lot of fluid, literally by the second. My husband was not with me at the time as he was still making his way to the hospital,” Hamilton said.

Afraid of losing her baby, the new mom finally received help from the Rondebosch Medical Centre Private Hospital, instead and had her baby delivered safely.

Her advice to other would-be mothers is to try and attend as many check-ups as possible to avoid birthing complications. Hamilton also encouraged them to investigate how Covid-19 infections could affect the health facility.

Health-e has reached out to the hospital for comment but received no response at the time of publishing this story. —Health-e News

About the author

Soligah Solomons