Giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic: Bonnie’s story 

The below article was originally shared on https://jessiemcpherson.org/

Bonnie gave birth in late April 2020, here she shares her experience of staying at Jessie McPherson Private Hospital and what it was like to welcome a precious new member to the family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bonnie, a Monash Health Theatre Nurse and Mum to toddler Jed, had no doubts about booking into Jessie McPherson for her second pregnancy with Beau, under the care of Obstetrician Dr Shavi Fernando.

Pregnancy

In 2018 Bonnie recovered from preeclampsia and placental complications including a postpartum haemorrhage. Bonnie and husband Tom welcomed Jed at 38 weeks weighing 2.51kgs. Bonnie recovered from placental complications, including a postpartum haemorrhage due to preeclampsia. With Bonnie well-cared for by the postnatal team and Jed on a strict feeding schedule, the new family of three were soon home.

Not long after Jed’s first birthday, Bonnie and Tom discovered they were expecting again, with a new baby due in May 2020.

Bonnie and Tom had no doubts about booking into Jessie McPherson under the care of Dr Shavi Fernando for a second time.

During her second pregnancy, Bonnie once again experienced high blood pressure. Closely monitored under the care of Dr Fernando, the pregnancy went smoothly, and any complications were expertly managed.

On choosing Dr Fernando for her pregnancy care, Bonnie says, “I knew Shavi by reputation, [at Monash Health] he is well respected for the way he treats employees and generally in the way he behaves and conducts himself. I felt very well cared for by Shavi during both pregnancies, and the complications I experienced were extremely well managed.”

With an induction of birth at 38 weeks, Beau was welcomed into a somewhat altered world on a notable day, ANZAC Day, Saturday 25 April 2020, weighing 3.4kgs.

COVID-19

By March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was having an impact on the lives of Australians, with restrictions and social distancing rules imposed nationally.

Like many pregnant women, Bonnie experienced some variations to the usual pregnancy care; this included restrictions around attending scans and calling upon arrival for appointments.

“My antenatal appointments were impacted, I had to go on my own to scans, and call from the carpark to announce my arrival.”

As a healthcare professional, Bonnie did have an insight into the pandemic, “I worked up until 36 weeks (early April), working in a hospital during this time meant I knew what was going on behind the scenes with pandemic planning. So although the changes to appointments and precautions around social distancing felt very strange, I completely understood it was for our safety.”

Bonnie went on to say that like the majority of people, she was a little anxious and wanted to isolate and protect her family.

If you’re feeling anxious and worried about your health and that of your family, you’re not alone. It’s understandable to be concerned in such uncertain times. One thing we know about anxiety is that we can reduce it by being proactive. This can help us feel prepared and more at ease. We have included further information about managing anxiety around COVID-19 at the end of this article.

Birth experience and postnatal care

While discussing her birthing experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bonnie made some interesting comparisons to her first stay.

When talking about her time in the birth suite, Bonnie explained that “While the PPE (personal protective equipment) precautions may be confronting for some, it meant less traffic in and out of the room, which resulted in the birth suite being quiet, peaceful and calm. I still had a beautiful birth, with no impact from COVID-19. It’s clear that to all the employees, you are their priority, not the pandemic.”

On her postnatal stay at the Jessie McPherson Maternity Unit, “I felt extremely well cared for and enjoyed the uninterrupted attention of the midwives due to the visitor restrictions. While my care was excellent the first time, I found that this time as the employees didn’t have to work around visitors, I spent more time asking questions and talking to the midwives. For me, this really added to the level of care I received.”

On the visitor restrictions in place, Bonnie said, “While disappointed about Jed not being able to meet his brother, I loved the quality one-on-one time I had with Beau. We completely understand why the restrictions are in place and found that it did make us feel safer, like being in a protected bubble from the outside world.”

At home

We checked in with Bonnie, Tom, Jed, and Beau to see how they are all settling in at home.

“We’ve settled in really well at home. It’s different from the first time around with Jed. I was very busy and probably did a little too much. This time we are loving the forced slow down; it’s allowing me to recover and soak it all up and really enjoy this early newborn phase.”

When asked if she had any advice for expectant mums preparing to give birth during the pandemic, Bonnie said, “Although it can be difficult that visitors are not allowed, facetime is still a very good option, and the no visitors actually added to my stay. And while the world may feel like a crazy place at the moment, I felt very safe in the hands of the team at Jessie McPherson. Thank you to Shavi and the wonderful midwives for their amazing care of all of us.”

Bonnie sent through these lovely photos of her two boys, big brother Jed still adjusting to life as a big brother to little Beau.

Congratulations to Bonnie and Tom and thank you for sharing your story with us.

Resources: 

COVID-19 and Pregnancy FAQ’s

Preeclampsia information

Managing anxiety around COVID-19

Dr Shavi Fernando profile and contact information

Maternity information page including an alternative tour option

COVID-19 information from Department of Health and Human Services VIC (DHHS)

Search the Jessie McPherson Obstetrician directory



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