Maternity care providers urge pregnant women not to fear seeking antenatal support

Maternity care providers are putting out a call to newly pregnant woman nationwide – to let them know antenatal services are available and important to their wellbeing and that of their unborn babies.

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GPs and midwives have noticed a drop in demand for early pregnancy care during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Source: 1 NEWS

Frontline services like GPs, midwives and obstetricians say since the outbreak of Covid-19 they’ve had fewer appointments with women in the first trimester, which consists of the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“Anecdotally, our midwives are telling us there are women that are too scared to come to the hospital,” says Hawke's Bay obstetrician Leigh Duncan. “They’re just finding the whole situation too anxiety provoking.”

But Dr Bryan Betty, medical director for the Royal NZ College of GPs, says it’s important pregnant women put a care plan in place in the first trimester.

“I would really, really encourage any woman early on in their pregnancy to contact their GP and arrange appropriate care,” Dr Betty says. “Frontline services are still open for business. Ensuring that routine care is taking place is incredibly important in pregnancy.”

The Covid-19 outbreak has brought changes to antenatal care. Midwives are now offering online consultations and resources along with shortened one-on-one visits.

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Dr John Cameron answers Breakfast viewers’ questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Breakfast

Some health providers fear not all women can access these services and will fall through the cracks.

Harlem-Cruz Ihaia, who is pregnant with her first child, says she found the outbreak of Covid-19 made her anxious and she was unsure what medical services were available. Advice from whānau helped her get to grips with accessing care and she is encouraging others to make a care plan.

“In that first trimester, that's the most important time,” she says. “We need to make sure our babies are healthy, that we're doing all the we can for them basically.”

A range of online resources are available for pregnant women including Hapū Māmā Connecting.