Unvaccinated women who suffered with Covid-19 during their pregnancies have told “terrifying” stories of having the virus, from being rushed to hospital to having emergency C-sections.
The women appear in a video sharing their experiences of severe Covid-19 during pregnancy as part of a new campaign encouraging expectant mothers to get the vaccine.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 98% of pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic Covid-19 are unvaccinated.
The video features three women who experienced serious complications after contracting Covid-19 before they had been vaccinated, as well as the doctors and frontline staff who treated them, to warn of the dangers of the virus for pregnant women and their babies.
Christina, a mental health therapist from Guildford who was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in her third trimester, said: “I had to give birth via emergency C-section because there was concern that I could have a stillbirth. It was terrifying.
“I would urge pregnant women to get vaccinated because I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through.”
Tanviha, who works in anaesthesiology and research in Manchester, spent two months in hospital with Covid-19 following an emergency C-section, said she caught Covid-19 during her second pregnancy in February.
She said: “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.
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.”
Of those pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic Covid-19, 98% are unvaccinated, and no fully vaccinated pregnant 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 the virus 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.
Professor Lucy Chappell, chief scientific adviser at the DHSC and honorary consultant obstetrician, said: “The stories shared as part of this film are heartbreaking and provide invaluable, first-hand insight into why accepting the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine is so important for mothers and their babies.
“Getting the vaccine is one of the most vital ways in which you can protect yourself and your baby from Covid-19, which can be really dangerous for pregnant women – of those pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic Covid-19, 98% are unvaccinated.
“Watch the film, speak to your clinician or midwife if you have any questions or concerns, and book in your vaccine without delay.”