Pregnancy is usually a time of joy, but for many expectant parents, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a sense of anxiety and stress which is reflected in increased calls to the Perinatal Wellbeing Centre.
CEO Dr Yvonne Luxford said the Centre had already experienced a significant rise in perinatal clients – almost 15% since the start of the year. More recently, they’ve seen an upturn in new enquiries and contact from regular clients who “are obviously experience significant elevation of anxiety”.
“We are seeing an increase in antenatal clients and we expect that to significantly increase over time due to the [maternity] restrictions in place,” Dr Luxford said.
“We are also expecting to see probably more clients postnatal if they haven’t had the opportunity to debrief from a birth that didn’t go as planned.”
As an organisation that relies heavily on providing group support allowing people to connect and share experiences face-to-face, the Centre has been forced to adapt.
Dr Luxford said they have had to close their face-to-face groups while increasing the level of phone and email support “and looking at mechanisms to provide opportunities to connect online”.
They are also holding Facebook live presentations every Monday and Thursday at 2pm which will cover a variety of topics including mindfulness, self-care, etc.
In terms of helping people manage their anxiety, Dr Luxford said “certainly one of the things we are advising people is to limit their access to media, especially social media … that they might only look at two news reports a day”.
The organisation has received a welcome boost to help them continue to provide their services thanks to funding from the ACT Government Community Support Package. The package commits additional funds to the Centre and other organisations as frontline community service providers.
“This will make a big difference in helping us to implement changes to the delivery mode of our care and support, coupled with increased service provision in an environment of greater demand,” Dr Luxford said.
The announced boost of investment also means the Centre will be able to continue to assist the increasing client load. Dr Luxford said it is especially welcome as their annual fundraising event, Cake Off, has been postponed to 2021, resulting in a significant financial shortfall over the coming months.
Looking for help?
The Centre also has links to helpful information regarding COVID-19 on their website [perinatalwellbeingcentre.org.au] to help families.
In addition, the ACT Government is establishing an early pregnancy and parenting phone line to provide support with early pregnancy, maternal and child health, breastfeeding and emotional wellbeing concerns.