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Pregnancy, Childbirth and COVID-19

Pregnancy, Childbirth and COVID-19: With the COVID-19 crisis effecting so many mothers in Australia, it can be frightening for many expectant mothers regardless if it is bubs number one or four.

Last year in November we received the BEST news a hopeful parent could ever hear, “Congratulations, you’re pregnant” were the exact words that sprang from our doctors mouth. My heart filled with joy and my stomach with butterflies. For us this was baby number two and I was already aware of what to expect. Unlike your first pregnancy filled with the unknown or the known of other people’s experiences, I didn’t know what to expect. This time around I was a little more comfortable but it still left me feeling anxious. I mean who wouldn’t feel anxious about pushing out a small human from your body? (Ladies, our bodies are amazing!)

Tahlia excited about her baby brother and someone to play with

Fortunately for us, everything was going well. We met all the developmental milestones, bubs was healthy, scans showed us a healthy baby boy and our daughter was excited she would have a baby brother to play with. Life was great!

Joan Kirner: Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Photo Source; Facebook

Services and Health Care

As a Melbourne’s West mother I was able to access the wonderful services at the brand new Joan Kirner, Women’s and Children’s Hospital. I opted in to the caseload service which matched me to two wonderful midwifes, Ruby and Andy who helped me throughout my pregnancy. It was wonderful getting to know them and having a consistent contact for advise and health support. I would recommend this service to all parents going through their pregnancy. They have been a great support for us through our pregnancy, childbirth and COVID-19 concerns.

Disaster hits!

I still remember when the news stories broke about COVID-19, Australia was still grappling with bush fires, my partner was deployed to a bush fire effected community as he volunteers in Emergency Management and is often out supporting recovery efforts. But this time, COVID-19 was a little more scary. Living in Metro Melbourne it was easy for us to close windows and doors to escape the smoke. My thoughts were always with the people and communities impacted but I was safe. COVID-19 was a new fear.

As a nurse working in a hospital and pregnant the first cases of COVID-19 came through with returning travellers and while I was committed to supporting those with the virus, I was scared as I didn’t know how it would impact my pregnancy, childbirth and COVID-19 being new, what impacts would it have on bubs?. I was placed on maternity leave at 28 weeks as new evidence emerged that COVID-19 may impact the lungs of unborn babies.

Constant changes in health policy and isolation

Each time we went to an appointment the health policy constantly changed from allowing partners to not allowing partners, we would often check to ensure partners could attend but often on the day the policy would change and Simon would have to wait in the car. Understandably is there is a potentially deadly virus. But it was still frightening as I did not know if the people I had come across were effected. Was I safe? Was my baby boy safe? how important was each appointment? Do I really need to be here?

D-Day, Induction

My latest scan revealed that we were having a large baby and I needed to be booked in for induction. As a women, being told you’re having a large baby is frightening as it has just increased your anxiety about how you’re going to push bubs out. It also opens up the prospects of a cesarean which I wanted to avoid. six weeks healing from a open wound and needing more visits to doctors and health professionals in the middle of a pandemic worried me. Also with a three year old at home and a partner often out of town working and limited support at home. Trying to manage would be a nightmare!

We were booked in for the following Thursday and while we anxiously waited for our date I was hoping to beat any new pandemic changes. Then the news I didn’t want to hear came through. “Outbreak at Joan Kirner Hospital”. My partner and I were officially worried as we didn’t know what this now ment for us.

We arrived on the day and were met at the entrance with a health check provided a mask that needed to be warn at all times and sent on our way. We didn’t have to wait long and we were ushered into our room. Health professionals were all covered in PPE.

Simon tried to keep me occupied and distracted from our concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak but deep down we were worried that we or our baby boy would be infected. Visiting hours ended and Simon needed to go home to care for our three year old and there were restrictions in place to reduce the amount of people allowed to stay.

The next day my waters were broken and my induction began all under the cover of a facemask. In between contractions, breaths and push’s I had a constant reminder of the environment we were in, a pandemic. I was scared of the people coming in and out, do they have COVID-19? will they give it to me? will bubs be given COVID-19?

The Birth

At 8:07pm we gave birth to our beautiful baby boy, Casey Anthony Vallone weighing 4.1kgs and 55cm long. The pregnancy went as well as a pregnancy does and I didn’t need a cesarean. We were excited at meeting our son but wanted to get out ASAP. Our birthing suite had a flurry of medical staff and all was well. But we constantly had the thought in the back of our minds, are we safe? is Casey Safe?

We made the decision not to stay in hospital, as Casey was our second child and I come from a family of nurses and health professionals I decided to go home right away. The risk of COVID-19 out weighed the support I would receive in Hospital. As a caseload participant I had a matched midwife for support and medical care. (I wouldn’t recommend this decision for everyone as each family is different).

Now

It’s been a couple of weeks and our minds still are fearful of what our future is going to be like, living and raising a family in the middle of a health crisis. There is still so much unknown about COVID-19 and understandably it can be frightening for a lot of people as it effects us differently.

I am grateful for the support I received from the wonderful health staff at Joan Kirner: Women’s and Children’s Hospital, they not only supported us through our pregnancy but so many other families through their journey navigating their pregnancies in the middle of a pandemic.

Thank you for supporting us through Pregnancy, Childbirth and COVID-19.

My advice to any parents currently pregnant or about to give birth in the current pandemic is that I am with you. Like so many mothers, not just in Australia but across the world, we are giving birth into an unknown world. We do not know what tomorrow will bring, we can not control the things outside of our control (even though we want to). We can only take precautions for ourselves and make decisions that best fit with our lives.

It can be hard for our partners whom will miss out on the first bath, the first cuddle and the first baby cries. However, there will be thousands more for them to cherish and share in. (My partner can have every bath time ever if he likes, lol)

Get in Touch

Have you got a pregnancy story you would like to share or this article resonated with you? let us know in the comments section below and lets support each other through COVID-19.

As a caring and hands on dad, Simon devotes himself to his family, career and health.

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