Well I think it’s fairly safe to say you never imagined your pregnancy like this: lockdowns and social distancing, self- isolation and toilet paper shortages at the supermarket - seemingly overnight, everything is different.
It’s natural to worry. Every woman has some worries throughout their pregnancy whether its their first or fifth time around but Coronavirus adds a whole extra layer and you may be feeling especially vulnerable.
If we can tell you one thing, its that you are not alone. Not only are there hundreds of other women also pregnant along with you, there are so many people out there, still working and ready to help you with whatever you need.
It’s important to build a trusting relationship with your primary healthcare provider whether that be a midwife, your GP or obstetrician.
Brisbane midwife Lara Rossback spoke to us about some of the concerns she’s hearing from pregnant women and gave us some tips on where to start looking for extra help.
Regular appointments are still regular
Many women are worried about what will happen to their regular appointments. Lara says it’s important to speak to your doctor about what arrangements are in place. If you were normally having appointments in a hospital, this might have changed to a clinic, or a telehealth service. But whatever the format, these appointments are still happening and you should expect regular contact.
Don’t call Dr Google
Another thing Lara has noticed is a surge in women purchasing their own equipment, such as Doppler machines in order to do their own checks at home. Women need to be careful here as it is not always easy to use the machine properly – you may be picking up your own heartbeat rather than your baby’s. It is much better (and cheaper!) to simply become more attuned to your baby’s normal rhythm. Start engaging with own body and baby and get to know the pattern of fetal movements through the day. Understand what is normal for your baby. Lara says babies are just like us – they want to be active when they’re feeling happy and healthy, and ‘sit on the couch’ or slow down when not as well.
Remember, that if you are ever concerned about your baby’s movements you can call your doctor or your hospital at any time. Don’t try to diagnose yourself or ‘Dr Google’ it! All your telehealth appointments are bulk billed.
What happens when it’s time to give birth?
Rest assured that the maternity wards in hospitals are still operating. If your waters break, you’ve gone into labour (early or otherwise) or you’re experiencing any other concerns, you can still go to hospital.
Women who have booked Cesareans can be reassured that that surgery is not considered ‘elective’ and it will still go ahead as planned.
It’s especially important to remember that there is no need to change your birthing plans because of Coronavirus in society. You still have all your rights as a pregnant woman; you should understand and be aware of any decisions around how and when you give birth.
Maybe you’re wondering about what support you’ll be allowed in the birthing suite. Lara says every hospital has their own policy so it’s best to find out early what this is. At this stage, you are certainly allowed at least one person with you. If you have older children to manage, it’s best to think ahead as to who can take care of them for you. Know that travelling to drop your kids at say, your sister’s house is certainly considered an ‘essential trip’.
After baby is born, there are restrictions on visitors in hospitals, and this may include no children under 16.
We know there are many disappointments, small and big, wrapped up in all of these new measures. It is okay to feel them.
What should I be doing to protect myself against Coronavirus?
The current advice for pregnant women remains the same as for everyone else: stay at home as much as possible, if you need to go out be vigilant about washing hands and not touching your face and maintain a distance of at least 1.5m from other people.
Lara also mentions a few extra tips:
- Get the Flu Vaccine as soon as possible. As a pregnant woman you are eligible to receive the vaccine for free.
- If you are still working out of home, consider asking your doctor for a letter to enable you to either work from home or access other options to limit your exposure to other people
- If you experience any symptoms of Coronavirus, call your doctor straight away.
Taking care of yourself; mind and body, is taking care of your baby. Do spend 5 or 10 minutes every day to re-centre yourself, do some deep breathing exercises or meditation or anything that helps to relieve feelings of anxiety. Mind The Bump is an excellent tool especially aimed at helping pregnant women manage their worries and anxieties.
Too Long, Didn't Read?
- There’s no need to feel alone – there are many sources of support available from your GP and hospital or check out our list of resources below
- Stay engaged with your primary health provider – they’re all still at work – more than happy to speak to a pregnant woman at any time.
- When you visit your doctor for appointments, arrive on time to avoid spending too much unnecessary time sitting in a waiting room.
- You still have all your rights – you don’t need to be pushed into anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Make sure you take time for yourself everyday to re-centre.
These are a range of resources with up to date advice to help you find some answers and hopefully some reassurance:
- The Australian Government website ‘Raising Children’ is packed with general advice from pregnancy right through to the teenage years and is a brilliant resource at any time. Check out their Coronavirus page for specific advice.
- For regularly updated information on the general Coronavirus situation visit the Health Direct website:
- The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has an Information Hub for pregnancy women and their families with an FAQ and other advice:
- If you or your partner are experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression or just need some extra support, visit the PANDA website or call their hotline on 1300 726 306
This article contains general pointers and should not replace any advice you receive from your healthcare professional.