Giving birth during a global pandemic

by Yashoda Mira Lalparsad


This pandemic has been highly stressful for almost everyone dealing with the uncertainty of what has come, but nothing can be scarier than expecting it give birth during a nationwide-lockdown.


Karishma and Mayur Babulall, the couple expecting, had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their second child, and what was supposed to be a moment of complete happiness and bliss quickly turned into a moment of stress and uncertainty.


This was due to the country going into a complete lockdown in the month that their baby was due. With the nearest private hospital being an hour away and the closing of most stores, they were left trapped at home hoping and praying for the best.


On the 20th of April late at night, Karishma’s water broke. This was a day before her scheduled C-section. Frightened, she and her husband jumped into their car and rushed to the hospital.


Before they could arrive they were stopped by the police. Thankfully, the cops understanding the severity of the situation allowed them to proceed regardless of whether they had a permit or not.

When she arrived at Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg she and her husband were screened for Covid-19. When they were cleared they then faced another hiccup, that being the theatre team who was supposed to perform her emergency C-section potentially being late. The nurse had suggested that she might have to try and give birth naturally.


“I prayed with all my heart that they would get there in time and thankfully they did. They then performed the C-section and at 00:33 I gave birth to a healthy, hungry baby girl,” explained Karishma as she recalled the events from that night.


Thankfully she and Mayur were well prepared for their little bundle. They had started stocking up on everything they needed so when lockdown started there was no panic of not having everything they needed for their newborn.


Karishma had mentioned that when in the hospital she had to keep her baby with her. She mentioned the nurses only came in as and when needed and contact with the mothers and babies were kept minimum. The nurses sanitized before and after dealing with each mother and only came into the rooms up to three times a day.


When asked how this differentiated from the birth of her first child she mentioned that the nurses kept the babies so the mums could heal but in this case, it was safer for her to keep her baby. This was a safer option as it prevented Covid-19 from spreading to the newborns and the mothers by limiting the number of people that had contact with the babies.


The hardest thing she mentioned about this birth was that her husband was not able to come and see the baby nor her until she was released from the hospital. There were no visitors allowed, not even family. Her husband was allowed in the delivery room to witness the birth, but after was asked to leave until she was discharged to prevent the risk of infection.


Karishma compared this to the first time she gave birth where her husband was allowed to be by her side the entire time and she was allowed to have her family and friends visit her in the hospital. The next time she saw her husband was when she was discharged and it was only him who had permission to take her back home whereas with her first birth, her in-laws and parents came to bring her and the baby back, this again was to prevent any risk of infection not just with her but also with the other mothers and newborns in the ward.


It has now been over a month and she is adjusting to being a new mum of two girls. Her quarantine baby has been named Mahi meaning Goddess of the Earth in Hindi. She and her baby are healthy and are looking forward to this virus passing so they can go back to their normal lives.

Source: Karishma Babulall (The Mother of Mahi)

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Rhodes University (UCKAR), Makhanda (Grahastown), Eastern Cape

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