United Kingdom

Mother believes covid may have caused her daughter to be stillborn

A mother who declined having a covid vaccine during her pregnancy has revealed her daughter was stillborn after she caught the virus. 

Sharnai Crossland, from Dukinfield, explained that she chose not to have a covid vaccine while pregnant, because she sufferers from a disorder that makes her prone to blood clots and feared potential side effects could harm her daughter Nova Grace Heyes. 

The 23-year-old said she had common cold symptoms for a week before a test revealed that she had the virus and later became severely ill with stomach pains.

She decided to go to hospital after noticing that she could no longer feel Nova kicking, but when midwives struggled to find a heartbeat Sharnai and her boyfriend Charlie ended up leaving with just a memory box. 

Research has found no link between increased risk of miscarriage and catching Covid-19.  

Sharnai, who has been in a relationship with boyfriend Charlie (pictured) since 2013, said she became worried when midwives struggled to find their daughter's heartbeat

Sharnai told Manchester Evening News that she had thought her symptoms could be a urinary tract infection, however her condition deteriorated rapidly.   

'With having Covid so close to her being delivered, there's a possibility that it could have been something to do with the baby passing away,' Sharni said.

'The reduced movements started when I was really poorly. In my mind, it is a high possibility that it could have been the cause.'

Despite struggling to conceive due to endometriosis and previously suffering three miscarriages, Sharnai had had a healthy pregnancy with the exception of a bleed at around 10 weeks.

Scans at 12 and 16 weeks showed Nova was developing healthily and gave her and Charlie the confidence to host a gender reveal for their family. 

Sharnai was administered a blood thinning injection every day at around 20 weeks, following tests that revealed she is prone to blood clots and began feeling her daughter kick at 21 weeks. 

Sharnai Crossland, 23, from Dukinfield, fears her daughter Nova Grace Heyes (pictured) may have been stillborn because she caught covid while pregnant 

Sharnai said she hadn't seen many stories about pregnant women being safe to have the vaccine and wanted to wait until Nova (pictured) was born to have it 

The customer support advisor for John Lewis had to overhaul her diet at 26 weeks after discovering that she had gestational diabetes, however further scans appeared to show Nova was continuing to develop healthy and could be induced at 36 weeks. 

The couple decided to take covid tests when Charlie became unwell at around 33 weeks, with their results both coming back negative.   

Does catching Covid-19 put you at higher risk of miscarriage? Research finds no evidence of a link

Pregnant women who catch coronavirus are not more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth or to deliver a baby with a low birth weight, a study in February 2021 found.

The research included 4,004 pregnant women in the UK and US and found Covid did not increase the risk of a pregnancy going wrong.

Advice for mothers-to-be during the pandemic has been cautious, with the NHS putting them in a 'clinically vulnerable' group. But there has been a lack of quality evidence to prove whether they are or aren't put in extra danger by Covid.

Children seem to barely get sick with the virus unless they already have severe health problems.

And the study, by Imperial College London, suggests the same is true of unborn babies and newborns. No babies died of Covid in the study and only around 10 per cent of them tested positive after birth.

Although women were more likely to die if they had Covid than if they didn't, this risk was the same as for a non-pregnant woman, suggesting their baby was not a factor.

Premature delivery was more likely in the women testing positive for coronavirus, the researchers found, but this appeared to be because doctors were deciding to induce labour because they were over-cautious about Covid.  

They decided to follow up with a drive thru PCR test as they were planning to have a baby shower, which tragically confirmed they had both caught the virus. 

Sharnai revealed on a fundraiser page set up in memory of her daughter that her symptoms started similarly to a cold before rapidly deteriorating.     

She was taken to the labour ward where midwives found her heart rate was 150bpm while Nova's reached highs of 203bpm.

'I stayed on the ward for around 18 hours, having many tests, an ECG, bloods done and an x ray on my chest. Listening to the machine constantly beep due to one of our heart rates being up past an acceptable level was awful,' Sharnai said.  

After being transferred to a covid ward, Sharnai and Nova's condition stablised and they were allowed to go home.

However, Sharnai soon fell severely ill and noticed Nova wasn't moving much so she returned to the hospital with a bag prepared to go into labour.  

The customer support advisor for John Lewis said she was worried and immediately knew something was wrong when the midwives struggled to find Nova's heartbeat and a colleague came in to check what was happening. 

She admits to not remembering the words exchanged with Charlie, who she has been in a relationship with since 2014, but clinging to each other crying.

Nova Grace Heyes was stillborn at 9.24pm on July 28, weighing 5lb 8oz.

Sharnai said: 'Charlie got to cut the umbilical cord which was so special. She has her daddy's long legs that's for sure, it's the first thing we noticed about her. And his nose. But she has my dark, curly hair, and definitely my face shape.' 

Sharnai revealed that she and Charlie felt a rush of love although Nova was stillborn and they spent four days with her before laying her to rest. 

Explaining that she hadn't seen many stories about pregnant women being safe to have the vaccine, she admitted that she wanted to wait until she was no longer expecting Nova to have it because it's still in the trial phase. 

Sharnai and Charlie (pictured) are hoping to raise money for the suite they stayed at following Nova's birth as well as for the 4Louis charity 

She said it's difficult not to blame herself for the death of Nova and she's hoping the post-mortem won't confirm her fears that her passing is linked to covid.      

Sharnai and Charlie are hoping to use money from their fundraiser to donate a baby bath to the Harebell suite they stayed at after Nova's birth as well as to contribute to the 4Louis charity, which creates memory boxes.

They have already raised £2,390 of their £5,000 goal since setting up the fundraiser at the end of August.  

A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggested that having the virus around the time of birth may increase the chance of stillbirths and premature births - however the overall risks are low. 

Over 340,000 women who gave birth in England between the end of May 2020 and January 2021 provided data for the study led by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit.  

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