Unvaccinated women who suffered serious complications from COVID-19 during pregnancy have shared their “terrifying” stories to help encourage expectant mothers to get the jab.
The three mothers, whose ordeals included emergency C-sections and coming close to death, feature in a new video as part of a campaign by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The DHSC has said 98% of pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and nearly one in five coronavirus patients who are most critically ill are pregnant women who have not had the jab.
Tanviha, who works in anaesthesiology and research in Manchester, spent two months in hospital with COVID-19 following an emergency C-section.
She said she caught the virus during her second pregnancy in February, and continued: “At the time, the vaccine wasn’t available to me and I quickly took a turn for the worse.
“I was rushed into hospital and went straight into intensive care where my condition deteriorated and my son was delivered by emergency C-section.
“I was put to sleep and intubated, and my family were told it was unlikely I’d survive and to prepare for the worst.
“The day after I was intubated, the nurse told them they were going to switch the machine off, but instead I was transferred to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which is a last resort for patients with severe heart and lung failure, and it saved my life.
“The first time I saw my son he was two months old. It’s the scariest experience of mine and my family’s life but I’m just grateful that me and my son are alive.
“If you’re unsure about getting vaccinated please come forward and get your jab, not everyone’s as lucky as I am.”
Christina, a mental health therapist from Guildford, Surrey, was admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in her third trimester, and said: “I had to give birth via emergency C-section because there was concern that I could have a stillbirth. It was terrifying.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me and my baby; I’m still suffering with symptoms now along with the anxiety of not knowing how or when I’ll recover.
“I would urge pregnant women to get vaccinated because I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through.”
Joanne, a make-up adviser from Lincolnshire, suffered complications with her pregnancy after catching COVID-19.
She said: “I had been unsure what was the right thing to do about getting vaccinated while pregnant.
“I was planning on having the jab after my daughter was born but I caught COVID-19 when I was 35 weeks pregnant and became seriously ill, I couldn’t get out of bed for a week.
“I had nearly recovered but something just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t feel my baby kicking so I made an urgent appointment to see my midwife.
“The team at the hospital quickly spotted the baby’s growth had dropped and her fluid was low.
“Her heartbeat was going down and down so the consultant rushed me off for an emergency caesarean when Mollie-Ann was born.
“I’m so grateful to the maternity team for keeping me and my baby safe and I just wish I’d been vaccinated sooner.”
The DHSC has said no fully vaccinated women were admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 in England between February and the end of September 2021.
Around one in five women who are admitted to hospital with coronavirus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and one in five of their babies need care in the neonatal unit, the DHSC said.
Since April 2021, around 84,000 pregnant women have received one dose and more than 80,000 have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.