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Posted On: 18 February 2021 08:00 pm
Updated On: 18 February 2021 08:12 pm

Giving birth in Qatar during the pandemic: An expat's experience

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DISCLAIMER: The personal opinions and details expressed in this article are the writer's only. Your experience of giving birth in Qatar, during the pandemic may be different and it should also be kept in mind that it is dependent on several other factors.

It was March 10 - only days after we'd excitedly announced to our families back home that we are expecting again! This was also the time when Qatar imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions to people coming from 14 countries - which included our native, India.

The questions asked during this time generally are if you were eating healthy or about updates regarding the prenatal check-ups. With the COVID-19 cases in Qatar on the rise, one question that came at the forefront of our minds was - were we safe here?

With regards to safety, Qatar acted promptly to the rising cases and delegated certain health centres for COVID-19-only cases and as it so happened that our usual health centre was one among them.

Prenatal check-ups and appointments

This shift from one health centre to another was a little difficult for us. As per the regulations at the time, the in-person prenatal appointments were made to be ‘telephonic appointments’, which meant one could only visit the doctor-in-person if there was an emergency. It was a relief that the prenatal vitamins that were prescribed and purchased were directly sent to my home, with free delivery.

The ultrasounds were often performed by technicians who later sent the report to the doctor and the doctor would deliver the results over the telephonic appointments. It was a pregnancy confined much within the four walls of my home, and the safety protocols placed in the state ensured I did so diligently. Baby shopping trips were close to none as like everyone, I too was learning about this novel virus and wanted to keep safe at all times.

What happened when the due date came?

When the D-day was finally here, I went into Al Wakra Hospital not knowing what to expect. I saw that the corridors were buzzing with masked women and nurses hustling about. My husband was asked to not go any further after the admission, as only patients were allowed within the premises from thereon. We were also informed there that no relatives - mother, partner or anyone else will be accompanying the patient during the stay.

I was first taken for a COVID-19 test, it was just a little uneasy, nothing like what I'd read about. Soon after the COVID-19 test, we were taken to a ward where after changing into the hospital clothes, I got my first visit from a doctor. She complimented me on my floral mask and went on to examine me. It's going well so far, I thought.

That night was the first of my next 3 nights spent there without any family. They were lonely nights, not just for me but for all the women who were doing it without their family by their side. If I needed some refreshments, I would call my husband, who'd then drop all the things at the reception, the head nurse of our ward would receive a call from the reception and then a nurse would get it from there. Video calls with my almost 2-years-old toddler were welcoming during this time.

An expat’s experience of giving birth in Qatar during the pandemic
Image Credit: Ayesha Younis

After an exhausting 3 days labour, I was finally ready for delivery when the biggest shocker of all came through. The doctors said I need to push wearing a mask. It was truly something I never contemplated. As I gasped for air and removed my mask multiple times, the doctors kept reminding me that it was for my own well being and safety as they do rounds visiting many patients along the way.

So I did as told. And at exactly 00:00 at midnight on October 16th, the nine months of an anxiety-ridden pregnancy and lonely hospital nights came to a climax. As I held my baby I knew it was all worth it. She was here and she was beautiful.

Thanks to our heroes - our frontline workers

After the birth, I asked each of the doctors and midwives their names. I truly don't think I could have done it without their support. A sense of relief flowed within me as I could finally rest knowing my baby was doing well, that she made it out safely in this pandemic.

An expat’s experience of giving birth in Qatar during the pandemic
Image Credit: Ayesha Younis

Later, we opted for a private room where my family (one person at a time) could visit me for a few hours every day. No one was allowed to stay overnight. During this period, the nurses came to my aid and ensured I was taken care of. I would also like to mention that the wards too, are extremely clean and safe. The staff keep it sanitized at all times. We were also given a care-package with all the necessary items for the new mother and baby.

After God, I would only say it was the frontline workers who did it all. They not only saved lives but quite literally, brought new lives into this world as well. I will forever remember this pregnancy in the pandemic, as a reminder of how courage, resilience and a little self-discipline can make all the difference in the world.

So mask up, follow the rules set by our government and stay safe! Let’s do our bit in making the lives of the frontline workers and those around us a little better.

Related article: All you need to know about giving birth in Qatar if you are an expat

Did you too give birth in Qatar during the pandemic? Was your experience similar too? Do let us know in the comments section below! Do share this article - it keeps us going!

Written by: Ayesha Younis (Instagram: @timesofayesha); Edited by: Vrinda Abilash
Cover image credit: Ayesha Younis