pregnancy

'I got COVID when I was pregnant with my second child. Here's everything you'd want to know.’

Gender Equity Victoria
Thanks to our brand partner, Gender Equity Victoria

When Aimee discovered that her toddler, Abby, had contracted COVID-19 while at childcare, it came as a shock.

“Before her, I didn’t know anyone who had COVID-19,” she tells Mamamia.        

Aimee also knew that chances were, it would only be a matter of time until she would receive a positive diagnosis too.

Unfortunately, she was right.

“My partner, Hugh and I contracted COVID-19 within a week from caring for Abby in isolation. It’s impossible to socially distance from a toddler!” 

While the situation was hard enough she says, to add further complexity, Aimee was also 30 weeks pregnant with her second child.

Aimee was double vaccinated when she contracted COVID-19 which thankfully offered her some relief and reassurance. 

This positive opinion of the COVID-19 vaccination though, was not something she always possessed; instead, Aimee was initially hesitant to have the vaccine while pregnant. 

WATCH: COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy. Post continues below. 

“My hesitancy came from the lack of historical evidence from the vaccines. There were no pregnant people in Australia who had been vaccinated and given birth showing the babies weren’t adversely affected,” she explains.

Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC) is the Victorian peak body for gender equity, women’s health and the prevention of violence against women.

This apprehension is something that GEN VIC explain is quite common for women and gender diverse people because historically, “research about how medical treatments impact [these groups] are often unclear” due to gender biased testing.  

However, advocacy by women's health organisations has meant that the COVID-19 vaccines have been tested for people of all genders.  

GEN VIC confirm: “With coronavirus vaccines we now know how they impact people across genders, including pregnant women [and gender-diverse people]."

This testing was what ultimately changed Aimee’s mind (along with "some wise words" from her mum).  

“I was lucky my mother as a nurse was able to research and provide reassurance around this being safe for the baby. My only regret is not getting the vaccine sooner,” she says.

For Aimee and her family, their COVID-19 symptoms were only mild, something she attributes to the effectiveness of the vaccine.  

“I feel very fortunate I was double vaccinated at the time of exposure. We were all very lucky to just get mild symptoms of blocked sinuses and headaches, much like a standard cold. I personally believe it hugely reduced the severity of symptoms,” she says.

While physically, Aimee felt okay, contracting COVID-19 was emotionally challenging.

“The stress of getting COVID, three weeks of isolation with a toddler and trying to keep up with work before heading on maternity leave definitely impacted my mental health and sleep.

“We were very lucky to have lovely supportive friends drop off food and toys which made the world of difference. We just focused on getting through each day.” 

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Adding even more complexity and concern to Aimee’s situation was the fact that she was pregnant.  

“The hospital was very helpful with calls twice daily to check on my health and that the baby was moving normally. They also checked to make sure we had all of the support we needed in isolation right down to food and chemist supplies.”

Once Aimee had recovered, she had a follow up ultrasound and doctor’s appointment.

“I was told COVID has definitely not stopped my large baby from growing!” she laughs.

While Aimee and her baby have not experienced any adverse impacts from COVID-19 or longer-term symptoms, she knows that isn’t the case for many pregnant women and their babies, especially for women who are unvaccinated.

“Since having recovered from COVID-19, I’ve heard of other pregnant women [who have COVID-19] not being as lucky. These stories have been really eye-opening as to what could have happened if I wasn’t vaccinated or had waited any longer to get vaccinated,” she says.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) say that pregnant women and gender-diverse people have higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and their babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely.

This devastating reality is demonstrated from the high rates of unvaccinated pregnant people in COVID-19 wards, including those here in Australia. In fact, as of November 15 this year, there was at least one unvaccinated pregnant woman (or pregnant gender-diverse person) in every one of Melbourne's ICU dealing with COVID-19. 

What makes these statistics even more heartbreaking is that recent data from large number of women worldwide has shown there are no safety concerns linked to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (such as Pfizer or Moderna), at any stage of pregnancy. 

In fact, the health risks linked to COVID-19 are much greater than the risks linked to vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine, which is why (along with the heightened risk of complications for those not vaccinated) both RANZCOG and ATAGI recommend the vaccination for all pregnant people.

While as a community there is a range of things, we can do to stop the spread (handwashing, wearing masks and physical distancing), the best way to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and experiencing severe symptoms is to get vaccinated (especially for women and gender diverse people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding).

“Don’t wait. Get informed by speaking to your GP, midwife or obstetrician. The risk of being unvaccinated is real, and this could save your life, and your baby,” Aimee says.

Book your COVID-19 vaccine today. It’s free for everyone in Australia, and you don’t even need a Medicare card.

Gender Equity Victoria have compiled health information about the COVID-19 vaccine by and for women and gender-diverse people, and encourage anyone who feels uncertain to speak to their doctor.

Book your COVID-19 vaccine today. It’s free for everyone in Australia, and you don’t even need a Medicare card. 

Feature Image: Supplied.

Gender Equity Victoria
Gender Equity Victoria (GEN VIC) is the Victorian peak body for gender equity, women’s health and the prevention of violence against women. For women and gender diverse people, it can be hard to know what to do when it comes to vaccines. There’s a lot of information out there. What we do know is that getting vaccinated is best protection for women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding.