Singapore has officially entered a new phase in its COVID-19 chapter. Not quite a lockdown, but definitely with many more restrictions in place.
For the few frontliners in essential services – especially healthcare – life just got even more complicated. Especially for medical professionals with families of their own to worry about, some of whom are pregnant or have recently welcomed a newborn into their lives.
Pregnant in the time of a pandemic
Our April Mum of the Month, Mabel Zhang, is one of the latter, having given birth to adorable baby, Theodora, just a few weeks ago. The Senior Staff Nurse was, until recently, working as an operating theatre nurse and often had to assist with trauma cases from the Accident and Emergency Department. "We often receive emergency cases from A&E, and as they are considered life saving surgeries, we have to handle those first. Sometimes, we do not know if any of these patients have any contact to COVID-19 cases," revealed Mabel.
“As a healthcare worker, a lot of ‘what ifs’ would run through my mind. My colleagues and I worry that we may be bringing back the virus to our families. As much as ours is a call of duty, we want to protect our own families, too,” she said.
Working amidst a pandemic was not the most ideal situation for a very pregnant person to be in, but the 30-year-old took the situation in her stride and maintained a pretty positive outlook. “As a nurse, I have to put my patients above myself as my vocation is to help the sick,” she stated pragmatically. “I was lucky to have helpful and understanding colleagues and bosses who lent me a hand during my pregnancy, and for that, I’m truly grateful.”
As for precautions she took as a expectant mum working in a hospital, it’s common sense. “I’d just load up more on vitamins. I stayed away from work if was too unwell to protect the patients, and myself too,” she shared.
The Nurse who nurses
Mabel’s journey with breastfeeding was thankfully positive when her elder child, Thaddaeus, was born in 2018. His first feed in the hospital was not breastmilk, but formula, because of his low sugar levels linked to her gestational diabetes. Luckily, he didn’t have any nipple confusion, using Hegen bottles for night feeds by the confinement nanny, and being latched on by Mummy in the day.
This continued for four months until Mabel went back to work. With her long hours at the hospital, she would have to pump three times a day at work to maintain supply. Lucky for her (and baby Thad), she was an “oversupply mum” who could yield up to a litre of expressed milk after each shift. “I would store all his feeds in the fridge before I head out for work, so he still was fed well while I was away,” she explained.
Mabel was still breastfeeding and expressing milk for Thaddaeus when she unknowingly became pregnant again with her second one. Under strict doctor’s orders, she was told to stop her milk production, and had to take a breasftfeeding break for five months. No sooner, this supermom was back in business just 48 hours after delivering little Theodora by caesarean, when her milk began to kick in.
The Hegen Difference
Mabel had been using and loving Hegen bottles since Thaddaeus was born. She is especially fond of how Hegen cups can stack together, and that the neck connectors can be used with different pumps.
“He grew up drinking from the Mint range of Hegen bottles,” enthused Mabel. “Now that I have Theodora, I’ll be using the Pink range so that I can differentiate the supply for my two kids.”
Mabel’s 16-weeks of well-deserved rest at home with baby coincides neatly with the rest of Singapore also staying in – a confinement period for all, so to speak. But there are also those who are mothers and pregnant, still working and serving others in the healthcare sector.
To them, Mabel gives her thanks and cheers them on to keep going. She also reminds the rest of us to “stay at home for them while they stay at work for us”.
The Hegen family strongly supports this sentiment too and we have a soft spot for our preggy and soon-to-be-breastfeeding healthcare Mummies who are bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontlines. Here is our special tribute to honour them. Above all, we echo Mabel’s message to stay safe, stay home, and stay positive.