Living in a slum area like Shivaji Nagar during the lockdown is difficult, it is even more difficult when one is pregnant. *Afreen (26) lives in Indira Nagar with her husband and her one-month old baby. They came to Mumbai 1 year ago from Lucknow in search for a better livelihood.
Afreen had regularly been going to the hospital before the lockdown but as more and more people were testing positive for COVID-19, the hospital staff had no time to perform regular ante natal check-ups. In March, Afreen went to Shatabadi hospital for a check-up but was returned, as the staff told her it was dangerous for her to come to the hospital; Afreen was not used to this. “At that point I was very worried for my baby’s health, what if something happened to the baby and the hospital wouldn’t admit me?” she asked.
Nearer to her delivery, after some discomfort, she went to the hospital but they were turned away. The doctor told them that it was riskier to keep Afreen in the hospital than at her home. They were then told to visit the hospital when the pain became unbearable. Overburdened with COVID-19 cases, hospitals have routinely been turning away even women in labour.
When Afreen’s condition worsened, her husband did not know what to do so he called the Apnalaya’s Mother Support Group leaders and asked for their help. The two leaders, who have been trained for such situations contacted an Apnalaya Field Assistant, Sangeeta Lodh, and told her of the situation. Sangeeta told them to take Afreen to the hospital and the two leaders did so immediately. Afreen gave birth to a healthy baby girl on 13th April!
Due to the lockdown, Afreen and her husband are having a tough time sustaining the household, just like majority of the families in Shivaji Nagar. Her husband had a job cleaning the mosque, and giving azaan but currently, he is not getting his regular salary, and is getting only Rs 200-300 per week from the mosque. “It is very difficult. We are managing somehow with the ration that Apnalaya has given us, as we don’t have a ration card,” she said.
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.