Bringing a baby into the world is a daunting task at the best of times – and the COVID-19 pandemic has not made it any easier for parents-to-be.
However, Sydney Adventist Hospital has come up with a safe solution to provide antenatal support after being forced to suspend its midwives’ regular group classes due to social distancing restrictions.
New South Wales’ largest private hospital – known as the San – has partnered with Australia's leading provider of online antenatal and early parenting education to offer more than six hours of free virtual tuition.
Available to pre-booked maternity patients, the Nourish Baby Learning Hub covers topics including choices in childbirth, pain-relief options, caring for newborns and breastfeeding tips, via a range of on-demand written and video resources.
The hospital’s usual classes provide pregnant women with a support network and the chance to meet other mums, and the online course aims to help them stay connected.
"It used to be said that it takes a village to raise a child, and now we no longer live in villages the raising of children is in some ways more difficult because people feel isolated,” San obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Andrew Booker said.
“I think in some ways these online education classes enable us to be connected when we are in separate spaces,” he added.
San midwife and lactation specialist Alison Edgecombe said the Nourish Baby program complements in-person classes usually offered during pregnancy and while staying on the maternity ward.
“It empowers people to make informed decisions. There is a lot of information out there and you have people telling you different things.
“That’s why doing some form of antenatal education is helpful to sort through what might be important to women and their partners. They can be correctly informed and prepared, both physically and emotionally," she said.
Such knowledge is vital in coping with fear of the unknown, said the San’s Dr John Keogh – an obstetrician of 30 years’ experience who has delivered over 12,500 babies.
“Walking into the birthing suite with confidence after having done the antenatal education is 80 percent of the battle won," he said.
To register for the course, visit the San website.