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‘The Covid-19 vaccine gave me more than physical protection – it gave me mental strength’

In the second trimester of her pregnancy, Samira chose to get vaccinated against Covid. Here she explains why she had the vaccine and offers reassurance for other mums


I became pregnant in February 2021. I found out in March and soon afterwards I got Covid-19 – at around 6 weeks. It was the Delta variant and it knocked me out. I’ve never been that ill in all my life. I was bed ridden and, as my husband will tell you, that is not something that happens often!

Whenever I got up from bed, I felt palpitations and was short of breath, so I had to stay at the hospital for the day to check my vitals. I had a high fever, joint aches and pains and some lung inflammation, so I was given antibiotics. You try not to take many medications when you’re pregnant but with the temperature being so high, I had to bring the fever down. There was a lot of fear.

I recovered physically within a few weeks, but mentally I continued feeling very low. I know it was Covid related because I’ve not felt like that before and it stayed with me for months.

I was eligible for the Covid vaccine in June 2021. At this time, I was in my second trimester. When I first spoke to my midwife, she said: “It’s up to you to decide” – this was in April or May – so I looked online for research and information. The BBC had released an article that said if you get Covid in your third trimester, you’re more likely to have a stillbirth, or be seriously ill or get hospitalised and I thought: “I have a kid at home, I need to take care of him. I have a baby inside of me and I need to take care of him and myself.” The research showed lots of women were having the Covid-19 vaccine and they were giving birth to healthy babies. A very close friend of mine gave birth after getting the vaccine in her third trimester. Seeing her and the baby gave me that visual confirmation that you can take the vaccine and be healthy.

I developed a fever after the first dose, which went away in a day. I was fine after that and my pregnancy went smoothly, which was further confirmed by ultrasound scans. Then I went for my second dose, also in my second trimester. The vaccines did not in any way effect my pregnancy but, up until I had the chance to see my baby, I still had a bit of a jitter in my heart. Then my baby was born and he was completely healthy. I’ve been breastfeeding my son exclusively and there have been no issues there, or with his weight.

I think there’s a lack of trust when it comes to healthcare for ethnic minorities, because when you look at the statistics, these can be scary. We know black women are five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth compared with white women. The risk for women from an Asian background is twice as high. There is that distrust and fear that you will not get the same care as a white woman or person would get.

We need to keep the conversation going in the most understanding tone – that we are all in the same position and we want our babies to be safe from Covid. I know if we take a stance that is forceful or not sensitive enough, it will never work, because people get into bitter arguments, especially online. You need to keep repeating the message because it can save lives. For a lot of the women, it might be their first time having a baby and I know, from personal experience, getting sick will affect their whole pregnancy journey. All of that can be avoided if you get the vaccine. We need to keep up the conversation, be sensitive about how we present it and make sure we reach out to people who aren’t taking it.

After I was vaccinated, I had more confidence in going out and that’s very important because I know people who have been holed up in their homes throughout their pregnancy. As a very outgoing person, if I had to do that, it would have really affected my mental health. I feel like the vaccine gave me and my baby more than just physical protection – it gave me the mental strength to be myself.

If someone was hesitant about the vaccine, I would tell them I was hesitant as well. I looked at the research and realised that getting Covid in my third trimester could lead to severe infection and being admitted to hospital. I wanted to avoid that completely. I’m really glad I got the vaccine.

Evidence shows that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant women. Official guidance says it offers the best protection for mothers and their babies against the virus.

For more information, please visit:- NHS UK information on pregnancy, breastfeeding, fertility and Covid-19 vaccination- The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists information for pregnant women- The Royal College of Midwives Covid-19 hub

    To read about our researcher Marian Knight's work on Covid-19 and pregnancy, please see here.

    Images: Samira and her children Aydin and Aryan. Credit: Fiona Caroline Photography.