A pregnant Rotorua woman has called on people flouting lockdown rules to consider parents having to raise newborns in strict isolation.
The prospect of weeks alone in their "bubble" if authorities had to extend the lockdown was just one of the tough realities facing expectant mothers in Rotorua, Taupō and the wider Bay of Plenty who will give birth in the next few weeks.
Other challenges included adjusting to strict new visitation rules introduced by hospitals and juggling time away from partners who were essential workers.
Last week Rotorua mum Stacey Brell had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave her premature baby in hospital and stay home to care for her two other children while her partner worked.
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Rotorua's Elke Semple is due to have her first child on April 23, near the end of the expected four-week lockdown.
"I've been telling baby there is no pressure to come."
She was worried about the prospect of the lockdown being extended and asked people to obey the rules and think about new mums in isolation.
"If we all listen then I can get support. My mum can come and stay or my sister-in-law.
"If we have people who flout the rules and spread the virus around then it's going to be longer."
Pregnancy was always an anxious time and Covid-19 added another layer of uncertainty.
She took some comfort from other expectant mums also facing the unknown.
"We're almost pioneers in a way because we are having to give birth in the middle of a pandemic."
While midwives report more women are considering home births due to necessary restrictions imposed by hospitals, Semple said this was not an option for her.
She was at risk of haemorrhaging due to low blood pressure and had been advised to have a hospital birth.
She was worried about a new rule in Rotorua Hospital where women were expected to go home two to six hours after delivery unless there was a medical reason for the mother or child to stay.
Rotorua community midwife Bronwyn Fleet said decisions on when to leave hospital would be jointly made between the mum, midwife and hospital.
Home was generally the safest place during a pandemic but that would be balanced against patients' other care needs.
No-one would be "thrown out the door" before they were ready.
The same went for home births. More women were considering having their baby at home
but it was not the right option for everyone and a hospital alternative would always be available.
Fleet said midwives were expecting an increase in home births and preparing for that.
Local midwives were working together to back each other up, including an arrangement where a second midwife would attend each birth but stay in the car unless there was an emergency to reduce any transmission risks.
Pregnant women were advised to maintain their isolation bubbles as much as possible, think about any adjustments they needed to make to their birth plan and try not to worry too much.
A Tauranga woman due with her first baby on April 16 was among those now considering a home birth.
The 28-year-old, who did not want to be named, said the prospect of having no support or family help or even visits after she gave birth was "scary" and had bought her to tears.
"I completely understand why they are doing it all and do agree with it but it's just really s***."
Another, Tauranga's Rebecca Gallagher, was preparing to give birth without her husband present as to maintain their isolation bubble he would need to stay home and look after their toddler.
In Saturday's Covid-19 update Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was worried about women who have just given birth and asked Kiwis to remember to check on them during the lockdown.
"I just ask people in their wider circle to stay in contact, reach out, check in on those families, see how they're doing."
Yesterday the Government announced pregnant women were among the vulnerable groups who would have priority access to flu vaccinations, along with people over 65, frontline health workers and people with respiratory conditions.
Last week Plunket announced it would not do home visits or face-to-face consultations during the lockdown.
Chief executive Amanda Malu said Plunket nurses had switched to keeping in touch with families over the phone and the organisation hoped to expand video conferencing options - already available for breastfeeding support - very soon.
"We are absolutely working to ensure that we will still be there for new mums and families.
"We are there for them 24/7. Plunketline is always there. They can also contact their nurses directly."
Plunket was also working to adapt its techniques for monitoring babies' milestones without home visits, as well as to connect local parents together online.
"We don't want any of our families to feel isolated or alone and unable to cope."
New rules for hospitals
Lakes District Health Board said its birthing units in Rotorua and Taupō were open as normal but entry points had changed and extra conditions were in place for alert level 4.
- Birthing unit labour entrances are closed and all entry is through a single entry point at both hospitals (in Taupō this is through the Emergency Department).
- Pregnant women and their one support person will have their temperatures checked before entry.
- You are allowed to bring one birth partner or member of your whanāu to the Birthing Unit.
- This will be the same person throughout your stay in hospital.
- If a birthing partner has any signs of illness they will not be allowed in the Birthing Unit or in the Special Care Baby Unit.
- You will be expected to go home two to six hours after delivery unless there is a medical reason for you or your baby to stay in hospital such as caesarean delivery.
- If you are well and suitable to birth at home, your lead maternity carer may discuss this with you.
- A special isolation room has been set up at Rotorua Hospital should a woman in labour be suspected of having Covid-19.
Covid-19 in New Zealand
As of 9am yesterday:- 589 total cases
- 76 new cases new in last 24 hours
- 12 people in hospital
- 63 people recovered
- One death
- 1728 tests a day on average
- 57 per cent recent overseas travel
- 26 per cent close contacts of existing cases
- 15 per cent overseas travel and contact with known case
- 2 per cent community transmission
- 11 cases in the Bay of Plenty DHB area
- Nine cases in the Lakes DHB area.
Source: Ministry of Health