A nutritionist who is weeks away from welcoming her first child has been reduced to tears after learning her family may not meet her baby until eight weeks after the birth under sweeping restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Ellie Bullen, 26, a cookbook author with 718,000 Instagram followers from the Gold Coast, Queensland, entered her 26th week of pregnancy as Australia recorded 4,862 COVID-19 infections and 21 deaths on Wednesday evening.
Like other expectant mothers, Ms Bullen is facing a raft of unexpected challenges created by the pandemic, including the cancellation of birthing classes and a ban on hospital visitors during and after delivery.
She said she ‘cried into a towel’ after reading information which said she could be sent home from hospital without face-to-face instruction on breastfeeding and may not be allowed to have visitors for the first eight weeks of her baby’s life.
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Queensland nutritionist Ellie Bullen is almost 26 weeks pregnant with her first child. She is facing ‘heartbreaking challenges’ created by the coronavirus pandemic (Ms Bullen is pictured at her Gold Coast home on Saturday, March 28)
Like other expectant mothers, Ms Bullen must accept unexpected disruptions including the cancellation of birthing classes and a ban on hospital visitors during and after delivery
Ms Bullen opened up about the ‘turbulent time’ she is facing on Instagram on Saturday, telling followers she has experienced a ‘rollercoaster’ of emotions over the past week which have left her feeling concerned and confused.
‘I wanna be totally real with you guys about how I’ve been feeling. I lay out in the sun today and cried into a towel. It felt good to let it out, it’s perfectly ok to feel upset some days,’ she wrote in the caption of a selfie which shows her growing belly.
Ms Bullen listed the ‘heartbreaking challenges’ she is suddenly facing due to coronavirus, including domestic and international border closures which could prevent her parents and sister from being with her after she gives birth.
‘Border closures in Australia and between states [means] I might not even have my sister come in from overseas, or parents visit from interstate,’ she said.
‘I know that it’s changing every day and this may not be the case for us come July, but if we don’t flatten the curve now it may be even worse, who knows, it’s confusing.’
Can I pass COVID-19 to my baby through breastfeeding?
Dr Adrian Kwok, a leading gynaecologist who is the head of obstetrics at the Mater Private Hospital in North Sydney, NSW, told Daily Mail Australia there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to the issue of breastfeeding during coronavirus.
‘We are not discouraging breastfeeding. The research shows SARS-Cov-2 [COVID-19] cannot be passed through breastfeeding, but it does increase the risk of transmission simply because of the close and intimate nature of the act,’ he said.
‘There is no blanket answer. We are treating each patient on a case by case basis.’
Dr Kwok said Ms Bullen and other expectant mothers should consult with their doctors to determine which feeding plan is best for them.
Research has shown that COVID-19 is not passed from mother to baby in utero [in the womb], unlike other viruses like Zika and German Measles.
Dr Kwok said pregnant women are no more likely to contract the virus than women who are not.
He said COVID-19 has not been linked to any known miscarriages.
Source: Dr Adrian Kwok, Head of Obstetrics at Sydney Mater Private Hospital
Is it safe for me to give birth in hospital?
Birthing centres and hospitals across Australia are taking extra precautions to help protect the health and safety of their patients.
Many hospitals are reducing the amount of visitors and some might consider letting you go home earlier after giving birth, provided you and your baby are doing well.
Source: Pregnancy Birth and Baby
Ms Bullen praised expectant mothers who are experiencing the same challenges and fears during these extraordinary times, and ended on a positive note by encouraging people to share what most excites them about becoming parents.
‘I am so grateful for the smiles and happiness I feel each time I feel a kick, each time Alex gets to feel a kick, or when I see my belly popping out of my clothes in the mirror,’ she said.
She said she is most excited to cuddle the ‘mini-human’ that she and her husband created together.
Ms Bullen and her husband are due to welcome their baby in July 2020.
Ms Bullen (pictured with husband Alex in their pregnancy announcement for Instagram on January 24) said she is grateful for the ‘smiles and happiness’ every time she feels a kick from her unborn child
I’m pregnant, should I be worried about COVID-19?
Only a small number of pregnant women have had COVID-19, but based on the current findings, it appears that pregnant women are at no greater risk than anyone else of catching the virus.
Pregnant women should take extra precautions in terms of practicing good hygiene and social distancing to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Having regular check-ups during your pregnancy is important to monitor the health of you and your baby. However, it is understandable that during this time you might be concerned about going to your GP or hospital. It’s important to consult with your obstetrician before making changes to your appointments.
Your doctor may recommend less frequent visits if you and your baby are healthy, or they might be able to offer video consultations for some of your appointments.
Birthing centres and hospitals across Australia are taking extra precautions to help protect the health and safety of their patients. Many hospitals are reducing the amount of visitors and some might consider letting you go home earlier after giving birth, providing you and your baby are doing well.
Source: Health Direct
The coronavirus-related anxiety and panic Ms Bullen described is shared by many expectant mothers across Australia.
Gemma-Marie Corti, 27, from South Australia is 22 weeks pregnant with her first child. She told Daily Mail Australia she has become increasingly concerned about the situation since the government announced new rafts of social distancing measures.
‘My attitude has completely changed over the last two days – it’s hard not to feel stressed in general but I became really alarmed all of a sudden,’ she said.
‘I keep thinking [my baby] is going to be born in the thick of all of this as she’s due in August, and the first three months of a baby’s life is when they’re the most vulnerable’.
Ms Corti said she has been experiencing anxiety and described the current state of the world as ‘dark’ and ‘eerie’.
‘I have quite a noticeable bump and now when I go to the supermarket people stare at me – some even ask if I should be outside at all,’ she said.
Sophie-Morgan Gleeson (pictured) from Wollongong, New South Wales who is currently 36 weeks pregnant is also experiencing the same anxiety and stress
Sophie-Morgan Gleeson from Wollongong, who is currently 37 weeks pregnant, is also feeling stressed about her pregnancy.
‘I am quite anxious due to what’s happening in the world at the moment. I feel like a lot of things are left in the dark. This is my first pregnancy and I’ve always had severe anxiety so the unknown really doesn’t make me feel any better,’ Sophie told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It’s concerning bringing a little baby into this crazy unpredictable world… everything is truly up in the air’.