New life in a time of international crisis

For first-time mum Louina Tuipolotu, being pregnant and having a baby during the Covid-19 lockdown period, made her feel extremely anxious.

But when she finally gave birth at the end of April to a healthy daughter and held her newborn in her arms, all that worry went away.

“I’m glad we are both well and healthy. I’m enjoying being a mother for the first time.”

Normally, the Tongan mother and her husband Viliami would rely on their large extended family to support them. But the Hamilton couple only had each other during her pregnancy and while Louina gave birth to their daughter Fusi Athaliah. She says the experience brought her and her husband closer together.

“I was supported because my husband has been taking very good care of me. It’s made me feel comfortable and relaxed.”

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Ngatepaeru Marsters, a midwifery clinical educator and member of the Pasifika Medical Association, says Pasifika mothers who are giving birth during this time have had to adapt without having their families by them for support. She compares the hardship to the restrictions placed on funerals.

“When you think of the spectrum of life from the beginning to end – and how it affected the lives of families who lost a loved one during Alert Level 4 and 3 and the constraints that they faced, it’s similar to a mother giving birth. Both are normally a family affair which involves multiple generations. The restrictions of giving birth and mothers not allowing their families around takes the shine off the big celebration of Pasifika families welcoming a new member into the world.”

Despite the restrictions, which have included social distancing and only allowing one person at the birth, Marsters says mothers have been very positive.

“Our Pacific women have been very gracious. What I’ve noticed, is when women come in to see their midwives for an assessment, it’s a social event for them. They are getting out of the house and interacting with other people outside their bubble.”

After being forced to stay at home for six weeks and the start of Alert Level 2 commencing today, Marsters says she is proud with how our Pacific mothers and their partners who have given birth during this period have responded.

“Our Pasifika families are resilient, and I’ve witnessed this first hand with many young couples adapting to the disruption of their birth plans and still ensuring the moment remains special and centered on the wellbeing of their new babies”.

#pmaunite   #pmafamily

Date: Thursday 14 May 2020