Baby boom for Epworth staff during COVID-19 pandemic

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There is nothing more precious than a baby, and at Melbourne’s Epworth Freemason’s hospital, the staff are used to helping new lives into the world every day.

Last year four of the maternity unit’s midwives had babies of their own, delivering their bubs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elyse Baines became a mother to Delcie and said the baby boom amongst the staff was something everyone celebrated.

“I actually wasn’t worried about giving birth during the pandemic, because I knew hospitals were still a safe place and that the quality of care wouldn’t be affected,” she said.

“It was also a nice bit of joy and light in such a sad and troubling time.”

Giving birth at work is not something most women would want to go through, but it is a different story when you’re a midwife.

“I have the greatest trust in the doctors, midwives, allied health and support staff and I knew being around those people would make me feel more secure, and relaxed and at ease,” Elyse said.

“I knew I would be well looked after. Plus, I shared my pregnancy with them, being that I worked throughout the pandemic and lockdowns, so it was only right that I shared my birth and postnatal time with them also.

“I’ve had many people ask me if it was weird or uncomfortable or awkward having my baby at my workplace and it absolutely wasn’t.

“It was the best decision my husband and I made, and will be doing it again if we are blessed with another baby in the future.”

Many women who had babies last year found the going tough, not being able to go out as much due to lockdowns, and Elyse said she had experienced some of that difficulty.

“I was very lucky to still be placed in a mothers group and it has been a tremendous blessing and support, but what I found I struggled with was the isolation,” she said.

“Not being able to just go to a café with my baby and sit in a fresh environment and space and recharge.

“My husband is an essential worker, so he was still going to work, so some of the days felt very long with the sleep deprivation and the lack of interaction from anyone. Also, going from a very social workplace to being at home every day on my own was very challenging.”

However, she added that after 11 months of being a mum, Elyse felt she would now be a better midwife.

“Absolutely!” she said. “I feel I can relate to women more and empathise with them and understand the emotions and challenges new mums face.

“I have just recently returned to work and I can already feel a difference in my care for women and their babies.”

Elyse said she had nothing but praise for Epworth and the support she experienced during her pregnancy.

“Everyone was beyond amazing,” she said.

“I was quite unwell with hyperemesis during my pregnancy and this made for many really hard work days and the support and care and understanding I received was beyond what I could have imagined.

“Anything I needed, they were there and mostly they were all just so genuinely kind and excited for, not just another Epworth baby, but a friend and colleague’s baby.”

Elyse had this advice for all new mothers.

“Be kind to yourself and remember you don’t need to be able to do everything,” she said.

“Ask for help, because people genuinely do want to help but might not know you need it, and even though it may not feel like it, you’re doing an amazing job!”

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