A mother whose baby was stillborn while she was in hospital with Covid-19 has urged people to get vaccinated to save themselves the “agony” of becoming seriously ill with the virus.
Rachel, 38, from Bilston in Wolverhampton, who did not wish to use her surname, was so unwell she did not realise she had given birth to her son Jaxon, at 24 weeks, in August, and was in a coma and in hospital for three and a half months after contracting the virus.
She had gone to get her vaccine while pregnant, but was discouraged by guidance at that early stage of the rollout advising expectant women to perhaps not have it.
She said she and her family were “devastated” by the death of her baby, and urged everyone eligible to take up the offer of jabs.
She told PA: “I did initially go to get the vaccine, but at the time the advice was not to have it.
“I thought I’d have the vaccine when I’d had the baby, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Earlier this week the government launched an advertising campaign encouraging expectant mothers to get vaccinated and boosted, after data had previously shown the vaccine to be safe in pregnancy.
The Department of Health and Social Care cited statistics from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System which showed 96.3% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms between May and October were unvaccinated, a third of whom required respiratory support.
In December, the UK’s vaccines watchdog made pregnant women a priority group for vaccination after research showing they are vulnerable to more serious illness and pregnancy complications if they are infected with Covid-19.
In November last year, experts warned that while uptake of the vaccine among pregnant women was improving, they were worried about some groups shunning the jabs, including younger women, those in the most deprived areas and women from black and minority ethnic communities.
Rachel, who thanked staff at both New Cross hospital’s integrated critical care unit (ICCU) and Glenfield hospital in Leicester for their care, said it was “really important” everyone had their vaccines.
“I would say take [the vaccine] – it’s a two-minute thing that can save months of agony if you end up like I was,” the bereaved mother said.
Speaking about her loss, she said: “I didn’t actually know I had given birth. I was on drugs so they wanted to tell me when I wasn’t sedated, and the obstetrician informed me a few days later.
“My emotions were disbelief – one minute you’re having a scan and a gender reveal, naming the baby and getting excited, and then there was this sudden loss.
“I was only able to see him once. Normally I’d have been able to spend a lot more time with him and to hold him. But I didn’t get to do that because of the circumstances.”
She said things have been difficult for her partner and her 18-year-old son.
“We’re all devastated at our loss,” she said. “We were all very excited at this new life, then we were left with nothing.”