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COVID-19: Midwife Cath’s advice for new and expecting parents

COVID-19 and pregnancyHere at the Bub Hub we’ve always made it our aim to provide sensible, practical and up-to-date advice to parents and parents-to-be so they can make informed decisions when it comes to fertility, pregnancy, and raising children.

Now, more than ever before, parents need a clear voice amid the confusion. And with that in mind, we’ve consulted a range of experts to discuss the only thing many of us are thinking about at the moment — the coronavirus or COVID-19.

Here, Midwife Cath — Cath Curtin — shares her advice about pregnancy education and supporting new parents during COVID-19.

Isolation and fear of the unknown are the challenges new parents face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially pregnant women were very concerned about their partner not being allowed into the birth of their baby. Now women are feeling a bit sad about not having visitors — especially their parents and the baby’s siblings.

But there are ways pregnant women can reduce stress — but most importantly they should stay informed, seek support and trust their instincts.

Pregnancy education and supporting new parents during COVID-19

How to reduce stress when you’re pregnant

The best way to reduce stress is to follow the rules that the government has set. So, stay at home as much as possible, pay strict attention to hand washing and keep in contact with your doctor, midwife and the hospital you are having their baby. Meditation, mindfulness apps on smart phones are an excellent way to reduce the negative chatter during this really stressful worldwide situation.

It’s important to decrease watching the news and reading about the COVID-19 pandemic. Online blogs and closed online groups are often mediated by non-medical members of the public. I would recommend new parents to read articles written by medical professionals and look at websites of major hospitals around Australia and the world.

How to find support in pregnancy and after birth

After their baby is born, women will not be sent home by hospitals without details of medical and community support networks.

There is public and private support services in the community – a good place to start is your local government website or to google known support services. Both public and private hospitals are an excellent source of information and contact details will be readily accessible.

The local GP and health care nurse is again is accessible to the community.

What are the benefits of an online antenatal class?

Obviously face to face would be ideal but at the moment it is restricted. Live antenatal class webinars are so important during this pandemic. We are able to provide a reliable source of relevant information for new parents and can communicate directly with new parents.

Webinars also provides a safe environment for new parents to ask often personal and awkward questions to the host and be reassured that they will receive a timely and professional response.

Reading books and other written information is also good but nothing quite compares to the having a person to talk with.

Unexpected positives for pregnant women during this time

The most positive aspect of this time is that women are resting more. Even though they may be working at home the commute to and from work is very tiring for pregnant women.

Women who have other children have all told me they have seen a change in their children – more one-on-one time home with the children has been an absolute winner.

A few mums have commented to me that they have noticed a positive change in their young childrens’ behaviour — children are talking more and seem more settled. That is the best news and reflects the rate of speed we live our life – so if anything COVID-19 has made us stop and smell the roses.

Can the ‘quiet’ help mothers tune into their own intuition?

The quiet surroundings can be silent and lonely for some new parents and access to community professionals are vital. But I do believe women have a ‘gut feeling’ about their baby and should seek help if they feel the baby is unwell, they are not coping as new parents, they’re having issues with feeding the baby or the baby isn’t sleeping well.

I like to think that most women have some positive influence in contact with them. Contact and support from their mum, dad, parents-in-law, aunty, uncle, sister, brother or friends or neighbours all can provide help from “the village”.

My best basic ‘common sense’ parenting tips for new parents

I use three words when preparing new parents – food, love, warmth. If you keep your baby fed, love the baby and keep the baby close, and keep the baby warm — the baby, if well, should be OK.

I also say that a baby cannot be sick and well at the same time. A lot of new parents look at a crying baby for example and instantly think they are in pain or unwell.

New parents know and love their baby the most in the world and they are the best to identify of the baby has changed behaviour or seems unwell. My personal rule is always listen to what the parents have to say about their baby then I can problem solve if there is an issue and in turn help and advise.

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Midwife Cath is running free online education for expectant parents to help you prepare for labour, birth and the care of your baby.

The free Tummy Talk classes are held 6 times per week and focus on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postnatal care. Cath has delivered thousands of babies throughout her 40-year career as a qualified nurse, midwife, maternal and child health nurse. Register at www.tummytalks.com.au

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