The days after giving birth can feel like a whirlwind for many new mothers.
But during the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of isolation have reportedly been heightened.
For Shearwater mother Wenonah Sharman, the experience after giving birth to her second child was made a lot easier thanks the postnatal services offered by St.LukesHealth.
After transitioning its postnatal care to a three-day home service at the height of the pandemic, the not-for-profit health insurer has now resumed its hotel postnatal services thanks to a partnership with Peppers Silo Hotel and Salveo Healthcare Services.
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Ms Sharman was one of the first to take advantage of the reinstated program with newborn Elijah.
The service allows mothers and families the opportunity to rest and get to know their baby while being supported by midwives and lactation consultants.
After experiencing complications with the birth of her daughter three years ago, Ms Sharman said the program had made all the difference this time around.
“Elijah had jaundice when he was born, so we had to stay in hospital for a while. But without having the [antinatal] program we would have had to stay longer,” she said.
“So being able to get discharged a couple of days early and come to the hotel … I had midwives come out each day. They were fantastic. Any questions I had, they answered.”
The service also meant that Ms Sharman’s three-year-old daughter was able to visit her new baby brother in person.
“We were in the [Launceston General] hospital for about five days and she wasn’t able to come in an meet him,” she said.
“So being able to come here was amazing, because she hadn’t been happy about that.”
St.LukesHealth launched the Northern Tasmanian postnatal service in June 2017, after the closure of Calvary Healthcare’s St Vincent’s postnatal unit in December 2016.
Luke Cameron, St.Lukes’ head of clinical services, said the program had grown exponentially since then – up from 104 babies the first year, to 650 in 2019.
Salveo child health nurse and midwife Athlene Petterwood said being able to assist women outside of a hospital environment was very important.
“A lot of women find those first few weeks after birth very isolating,” she said.
“Half of the visits are probably a social visit, as well as all the medical type of stuff you do. But it’s really nice to engage with the women. It’s a much more relaxed environment and having that one on one is really nice. It’s on their turf and you can work out when it best suits them to come and visit.”
Salveo Healthcare Services chief executive James Harrison said it was hoped the service would be able to return to the Mantra Charles Hotel later this year.
“We are excited to be able to be part of this exciting time in our members’ lives and offer this valuable service,” he said.
“We may even see a baby boom in the coming months due to the COVID-19 lockdown.”
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