Support being offered for pregnant women during coronavirus crisis

Photo:Istock
Photo:Istock 

It took three years of IVF for Sydney woman Jessie Jordan and her husband Mitch to conceive their first child, due to be born via c-section in April.

The couple met on reality TV show 'When Love Comes to Town' which aired on the Nine Network. She was a contestant, and he was part of the film crew.

They were married in September 2016 wanted to start a family.

Jessie Jordan is due to give birth next month.
Jessie Jordan is due to give birth next month. Photo: Supplied

"We both wanted kids and we'd been trying for about three years of non-stop IVF," she tells 9Honey. It was horrible.

"I think when you first start IVF you get excited. It's just science. You put the sperm with the egg and then the implant the embryo and you'll be pregnant, but you soon realise it doesn't always work like that."

After two miscarriages, Jessie, 38, and Mitch, 31, were relieved to be told at the 20-week scan that their baby boy was doing fine.

They started to feel excited. Then coronavirus hit.

"For me its a mix of the happiest time of my life, getting ready to bring a little person into the world but at this stage the world is so scary," she says. "Suddenly you can't see people, you have to do social distancing, I'm scared to go to the doctor and the obstetrician and other medical places.

"But also trying to prep the nursery and stock it with nappies and wipes and formula. Because of all the crazy hoarding that's going on you can't get baby formula or nappies or wipes, and that's a huge part of the anxiety."

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She says she was already feeling nervous about having her first child, and now she's also scared she's contract COVID-19 and pass it onto her child. Or that she won't be able to access the items she needs to care for him.

"Once upon a time you could have family and friends help you but now with social isolation you're alone," she says.

Jessie works as a creative director at an advertising agency and is managing her team at home while Mitch still works outside of the home.

"When he gets home from work I get him to have a shower and wash everything and disinfect everything," she says.

Added to the anxiety is a an umbilical cord abnormality that was picked up at 14-weeks, which sees the umbilical cord connected to a week part of the placenta which can cause ruptures and limit nutrients to the baby, necessitating an early delivery.

"It's already nerve-wracking," she says.

So far Jessie has been able to keep up her medical checks although she says precautions are being taken.

"When we visit our obstetrician we have to put on hand sanitiser and they are limiting how many people are in the practise at one time," she says. "Our doctor isn't doing the usual shake hands greeting."

She says her fear is she will contract coronavirus and pass it onto her baby.

"At first they said that couldn't happen but there's been a case of a mum in the UK who passed it onto her child," Jessie says.

Following the birth she and Mitch are planning to limit the number of visitors to their hospital and home.

"It used to be just six weeks until the first vaccination because you could have visitors but now there's no time-frame to protect little ones from the virus," she says.

"You try not to be overly paranoid but I don't want to risk anything."

She also thinks about contracting the virus and not passing it onto her baby, but as a result not being able to touch him after he is born.

She and Mitch haven't been offered coronavirus testing ahead of the birth as the criteria for testing is still quite strict.

"I'm on maternity leave and this is my last week of work," she says. "I plan to keep myself busy with the whole nesting thing and cleaning the house and trying to enjoy my own time and be still and quiet before the birth."

Following her miscarriages, Jessie used the Pink Elephants Support Network for support and today the organisation has announced they will be launching an emergency relief campaign to support women like Jessie during self-isolation.

CEO Samantha Payne says the organisation is there for anyone who needs support.

"We've had women tell us they are too scared to step food inside a hospital or GP practice for pregnancy or miscarriage related appointments because of the risk of infection, or if they're pregnant and contract the virus they're worried it may harm their baby and cause another miscarriage," she says.

She says women are also telling the organisation that they are having miscarriages at home alone and can't get access to basic supplies like sanitary items for bleeding or Panadol for the pain due to panic buying.

"When a woman has experienced the heartbreak and grief of losing her baby that's bad enough but the added level of anxiety and fear triggered by what's happening in society at the moment must be absolutely terrifying.

"Emotional care is critical at this time and we need to keep this support available to all those who need us."

Jessie says her first miscarriage left her feeling shattered.

"I just had no idea how that would feel and I was really quite desperate to find a platform to talk about it," she says. 'I was already part of an IVF support group and then I found Pink Elephants and it was amazing that any time I was feeling emotional I could go online and talk about it and within moments were was someone awake and checking on you and supporting you and telling you your feelings are normal."

Now she is seeing women on the forum talking about fears similar to what she is experiencing due to coronavirus.

"Even women who just had babies are in panic mode because they are having trouble finding what they need so others on the forum are trying to help them."