COVID positive mothers face mental health issues and violence, as one brave mum speaks out

Helen Margaret Singh with her newborn baby. Photo: Supplied

Being pregnant and told you have tested positive for COVID-19 is not easy news to accept.

Twenty-two year-old Helen Singh sat outside a medical clinic in Suva, Fiji looking at her tummy and whispered words of encouragement to her unborn child as she waited for a COVID medical team to take her to a quarantine facility.

She didn’t know that on the morning of June 23 she would not be returning home to her partner. She had been given the news that she tested positive after coming into contact with another COVID positive family member.

“When the swab test came back positive, I tried my best to stay calm and started informing my family members.

“However, minutes later, my emotions got the best of me and I burst into tears. The news started to put a lot of pressure on me as I was already due to go into labour any time,” Ms Singh said.

Ms Singh’s thoughts and emotions on delivery complications she could face began to creep in. “I was scared.”

She says her faith in God kept her going and had given her the uttermost strength she needed.

It was three days later that Ms Singh, who had been suffering from COVID symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

“Testing positive for COVID-19 can really worsen the state of (someone’s) mind, especially pregnant mothers, whose lives and their baby’s lives are always at risk,” she said.

“(But) I did not let the negativity of having the virus get to me. I pretty much diverted my attention to looking forward to deliver and seeing my baby boy”.

Non-profit Organisation, Empower Pacific says that with Fiji’s worsening COVID crisis and the impact on the economy resulting in many families having reduced livelihood and income, challenges are increasing for expectant mothers.

The organisation’s chief executive officer Patrick Morgam says many mothers who have delivered are stressed, anxious and depressed about finding ways to have sufficient financial support to provide and purchase essentials for their new baby.

“Some mothers have resorted to feeding their five-month-old babies with store bought milk tea powder, which according to health workers is not recommended as babies are to have solids and milk tea powder only when they are six months and above.

“But due to this pandemic and lack of financial support many have resorted to buying the cheapest milk product that in their opinion keeps their baby full and fed on a daily basis,” he said.

Mr Morgam revealed that due to financial constraints and instability, many mothers that have delivered have faced violence from their partners, which can cause postpartum depression.

Over 20 COVID-19 positive mothers in the Central and Western Quarantine facilities in Fiji who had been identified with having issues such as pre term babies, grief and loss, have been provided mental health and psychosocial support, the counselling and social services organisation revealed.

Mr Morgam said these mothers have been provided with substantial and long-term moral support to enhance their resilience and strengthen their coping mechanisms to combat psychological fatigue due to the effects of COVID-19 on their lives.

Fijian mothers are encouraged to call the 24/7 toll fee helpline (5626) – nationwide

Advice to mothers going through the same thing around the Pacific

Ms Singh says sometimes things don’t fall into place as hoped. It has been two weeks now since she has been in isolation.

She said: “I wasn’t even expecting for Fiji COVID cases to rise rapidly, nor was I expecting to be a Coronavirus patient, especially while being pregnant.

“My advice to pregnant mothers is for them never to get disheartened or start losing hope when things go left. A bad day doesn’t always mean a bad life. Stay strong, stay positive and keep praying.

“Put your faith and life in God and watch him work in miraculous ways. If you’re a pregnant woman or a mother who has or was tested positive, you are not alone. We are all in this together.

“You and baby are in this together. Let baby be your strength and motivation but on top of that, maintain that positive attitude. Don’t let negativity ruin you and your mindset”.

  1. Vinaisi Raivalita 11 months ago

    Do not be discouraged or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

  2. Sisi 11 months ago

    Reading this article really empowers my spirit this morning I’m four months pregnant and was swab tested positive. I praise God for healing and restoration ,now im free from this virus. Have faith in Jesus coz he already conquered this world.

  3. Adrianna 11 months ago

    Stay strong coming from Rochester ny ! I had Covid was 35 weeks pregnant had premature baby on a ventilator, unconscious & was paralyzed. Have faith ❤️ It’s hard but you will get through it !

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