Posted on: 26 March 2020

Sophie Biddle is a Physiotherapist at CNWL Camden  who caught  Covid- 19.

She wrote this blog about it, which is really worth a read.

We asked her for an update on Thursday 26 March:

Where am I now?  I’m feeling well after the recovery time you don’t usually get when you have a cold or flu because of work and life pressures. 

Everyone is sympathetic to those who are feeling unwell now and we are all taking better care of ourselves.  But still fully occupied with melding the constantly updating guidelines with my work responsibilities and changing role – both as a health professional and as a mother to be. 

We are at the very start of the Covid-19 experience are all going through and it’s difficult to say how you feel when you’re in reactionary mode and taking everything day by day.  Being pregnant for the first time too feels like having two different brand new paths to navigate and it’s taking up 80% of my time.  I realise I’ve been spending a lot more time reading about Covid-19 than about pregnancy and babies, what’s happening to my body and how to prepare.  The number of times I’ve felt a kick and then said ‘oh, I sometimes forget I’m pregnant’.  I need to know about Covid-19 for my job and my pregnancy, in fact most of my reading about how it affects pregnancy was to inform how I manage my job.  Ironically it was getting sent an NHS deal for a free online antenatal course that switched me back to thinking about pregnancy.

Everything is fine, I will have a couple of extra scans over the next couple of months to check all is well.

After sharing my story I had lots of feedback, and hearing peoples’ concerns I realised the most clear issue amongst them was that the symptoms the government is reporting to watch out for, to self-isolate over, and to indicate you have Covid-19, are not the only symptoms people are experiencing (''Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms, either: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough''), and not the most common ones my friends and friends of friends were reporting.  It turns out that reading about my symptoms (in a confirmed case): headache, tiredness, stuffy nose,  validates peoples suspicion that they might have the virus.  And until more people realise just how infectious it is and that more people have had it than they realise, THEN people will start following the Public Health England guidelines.  I realise those symptoms are probably the concerning ones pointing to a more serious case, but it's the awareness of the masses experiencing other day to day symptoms that will stop the spread of the virus.

People’s reactions were mixed to my positive test result: Some people grilled us about our actions and plans, some had a knee-jerk panic reaction, some were sympathetic, some very calm and composed.  I didn’t panic myself because I reacted as a health professional, thinking about what to do next, and we had constant communication and support from the authorities, which has not been the case for most people.  We are all still dealing with misunderstanding and misinformation around Covid-19 and need to stay calm, realise what you can and can’t control, keep up to date with the latest research and learn from each other.

How did I cope being in isolation?  I was busy with Covid-19 research, which most other people weren’t doing because they were still blissfully unaware how quickly it would descend on us.  A couple of weeks later when it really hit the UK I realised my friends and family had a good awareness of the gravity of the situation in part only because it had directly affected me, and my Brother going into self-isolation on my parents driveway for two weeks really made it real for them.  I started to realise that this will likely extend well into my maternity leave making it atypical.  My experience is already affected, online antenatal classes instead of in person, extra scans to check on the baby’s growth.  Will I be inviting friends to a baby shower via a live YouTube stream?  Video call coffee and breastfeeding sessions?  Solitarily walking my baby in the park a good distance from other parents? 

Three weeks after getting tested positive, I’ve finally got some solid advice from my Midwife.  Despite having been tested positive for and recovering from Covid-19, I need to follow all standard guidelines for pregnant women re. Covid-19 because the virus can mutate so I am still at risk of infection.  Apparently it is an ‘RNA virus’ which means it has a high rate of genetic mutation.

How I could help other pregnant women?:  by reassuring them that they will get excellent ante and post-natal care from very experienced professionals, that lots of research is being done to inform us on how Covid-19 affects pregnancy, that if you take care of yourself you can recover well and manage having the virus.  And, if you work in the NHS you will have excellent support, the latest guidelines, and you will still be able to help with the Covid-19 work effort.