Survey shows family stress during COVID

A new snapshot of pregnant women during the pandemic shows many experienced isolation and anxiety.
A new snapshot of pregnant women during the pandemic shows many experienced isolation and anxiety.

Grazia Pezzimenti, 32, was pregnant with her third child during Melbourne's lockdowns in 2020.

"It was a very different experience to previously, much more isolating - the virus was a big unknown," she told AAP.

Ms Pezzimenti said that like many pregnant women at that time, she missed face-to-face medical check ups, with her first hospital appointment taking place during the third trimester.

Her partner, a chef, lost his job, and Ms Pezzimenti said being at home together all the time took a strain on their relationship.

Even taking her older children aged seven and three to the park became a source of stress, as she was unsure whether they could play with others.

A new snapshot of pregnant women and new parents during the pandemic shows that like Ms Pezzimenti, many experienced isolation and anxiety.

The seventh Families in Australia survey asked 520 parents about their experience of pregnancy and parenthood during the pandemic.

The report found parents felt they had missed out on much-needed health services, and experienced anxiety and fear about engaging with health providers and hospitals in future.

One expecting mother said the experience had been difficult.

"Health care has been very unusual via the telehealth system, no doctor or nurse has physically seen me to check my blood pressure, monitor the heart rate or anything else, this is disappointing and worrying," she said.

The survey found that more than half of expecting and new parents got support from family while 40 per cent got help from friends.

Some felt keenly that being unable to see their extended family meant they could not get the support they needed, with one respondent describing the experience as devastating.

"Missing out on joy of sharing our baby with their grandparents and aunty, losing that family support option," the mother from South Australia said.

"Difficulties meeting other mothers for support, anxiety about taking baby out of the house, financial stress due to uncertainty of partner's income while we are solely reliant on it."

The report was put together by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Australian Associated Press