'I'm devastated': Sydney mum loses job and faces birth with no support amid corona pandemic

Photo: Donna Holmes and Jon Woodcock are expecting their second baby in May. Supplied
Photo: Donna Holmes and Jon Woodcock are expecting their second baby in May. Supplied  

Pregnant women around the world are dealing with a very uncertain and lonely birth experience amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At what is already a very stressful time, mums are facing the prospect of giving birth and caring for a newborn without the hands-on support of grandparents or close friends.

Not only are support visitors currently limited to one at the hospital, many family members will be unable to visit in the weeks afterwards - either because they are isolated in another country or state or considered high-risk. 

Sydney mum Donna Holmes is seven-months-pregnant with her second child and is due to have a scheduled c-section on May 28. 

"Our plan for this birth was for mum to fly over from New Zealand the day before baby is born." Holmes tells Essential Baby. "She was going to help with our 23-month-old, Zoey, as we have no one to care for her while I'm In hospital." 

Originally from New Zealand, Holmes has been living in Sydney for 11 years with her UK-born husband Jon Woodcock, who can only get three days off work following the birth and is not entitled to any paid parental leave. 

"Mum was going to help for 10 days after I recover from my c-section as my husband has to work," she explains. "Now, we have absolutely no idea what we will do."

​Woodock admits that his first concern is for the health of his wife and baby. 

"Will the hospital be safe? How will she cope in the ward if I'm not allowed to be there due to isolation rules? If I'm allowed in, how can I reasonably expect someone to take Zoey without fear of spreading any infection?"

To further add to the stress, Holmes has just lost her job in the retail industry. 

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"Unfortunately I got stood down from work yesterday," she says, "The retail sector has been hit hard. It's tough. I feel for all my colleagues, some of whom live pay check to pay check.

"And even even though I've been in Australia for 11 years, I'm not able to get any government support."

Supplied

Supplied

While Holmes is doing her best to stay positive, and keeps reminding herself that there are people in worse situations, she says the whole ordeal has "hit her hard."

"Deep down I'm absolutely devastated", she tells Essential Baby. "I have cried. And I really don't know how we will cope when baby arrives.

"We have no family here, we live in a small townhouse with steep stairs and an extra pair of hands or even some company would be amazing."

The couple realise they now have many additional practicalities they need to consider, along with "managing a two-year-old and keeping her life as normal as possible with a new sibling in the mix." 

"I don't think it has really sunk in yet about mum not being able to be here," Holmes admits. "The more I think about it, the more stressed I feel. I know mum is upset too, but there is nothing we can do but carry on."

Woodcock adds: "I remain thankful for our own good health and I know the team at the hospital are amazing."

"Many people are in similar or much worse situations right now. We just need to take stock and only concern ourselves with the things that we can manage. 

"One way or the other, this baby is coming. We will find a way."

If you need support managing anxiety around the coronavirus, you can access specific resources from The Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) and The Gidget Foundation or call the PANDA Helpline: 1300 726 306.