Woman With COVID Gives Birth to Baby Pre-term While in Coma: 'Traumatic Experience'

A pregnant woman with COVID had her baby pre-term while she was in a coma after being told she may never wake up.

Marriam Ahmad, 27, a paralegal in the U.K. city of Newport, Wales, went into hospital 29 weeks pregnant in January, she told BBC News.

Ahmad has asthma, which makes her more vulnerable to severe COVID. Once in hospital, her condition rapidly deteriorated. She was given oxygen to help her breathe and was so weak she needed someone to wash her face.

As the situation escalated, Ahmad was told she would need to be put into a coma from which she "may not come back," and that she would be hooked up to a ventilator. While doctors initially hoped to deliver her baby via c-section while she was conscious, Ahmad was told she would be unconscious during the birth.

The expectant mother was told to "say goodbye" as it was not guaranteed she would survive.

Ahmad called her parents in the city of Swansea to tell them the news. She said: "I Facetimed my parents and I was crying. It was only like a two-minute phone call—my mom was like 'what are you talking about?' I was lonely and I was scared."

Doctors called her husband, who was with the couple's one-year-old son Yusuf.

On the evening of January 18, Ahmad's daughter was born pre-term at 29 weeks, weighing 2.5lbs. On average, babies are born weighing around 7.5lbs, with between 5.5lb to 10lb considered normal. Ahmad's baby was therefore on the lower end of the range. A baby is considered pre-term if he or she is born before 37 weeks of gestation.

Ahmad woke up midday the next day, after giving birth to her baby at around 8:30 p.m. the night before. She "had no idea what had happened" when she woke up.

"Obviously I could see there was nothing in my stomach anymore and I was in a lot of pain," she said.

Ahmad was unable to meet her baby for a week after she gave birth while she recovered in hospital. In the meantime, nurses showed her photos of her little girl.

Ahmad and her husband named their baby Khadija, which means "very strong, independent woman," she said.

Since her birth, Khadija has grown to 8.8lbs. Ahmad said: "Even though it was such a horrific, traumatic experience, I just found myself being even more grateful for the little things. Just spending time with family."

In a Facebook post, Ahmad thanked the health care workers who looked after her and her daughter.

"Honestly after going through the whole experience and looking back, im very thankful for all the staff that helped deliver her and look after her and me!" she wrote.

Ahmad is not the first woman to give birth to a child while in a coma due to COVID. 32-year-old Kelsey Townsend from Wisconsin met her baby for the first time three months after giving birth while unconscious.

Townsend was put into a coma at nine months pregnant after she tested positive for COVID. During this period she gave birth to Lucy. Townsend was hospitalized for several months, her family fearing she would never come home.

Townsend told NBC News she was "overjoyed" to meet baby Lucy when she returned home from hospital in Madison.

05/10/21, 09.45 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comment from Marriam Ahmad.

pre-term baby, getty
A stock image shows a premature baby in an incubator. A mother gave birth to her baby pre-term while she was in a coma. Getty Images