Mental health concerns and vulnerability impacting Miracle families during COVID-19

The current climate of uncertainty around COVID-19 can bring out feelings of fear and anxiety. We already know families of preterm babies are more likely to suffer postnatal depression and anxiety, and coupled with the stressors of social distancing and isolation, their mental health is of great concern.

Miracle Babies Foundation asked our community to complete a short survey about how they are coping with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The survey was shared on our social media pages and website, and we had 114 respondents who were all parents of a baby who spent time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery (SCN).

We already know the more vulnerable people in our society are more susceptible to severe health impacts from COVID-19. Our survey found 90% of families consider their premature or sick newborn/s to be in the vulnerable group in relation to the current pandemic.

 

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Additionally, because of the virus outbreak, over 77% of parents are less likely to seek medical treatment for non-COVID-19 reasons due to a fear of being in a medical centre or hospital.

In a more telling illustration on the impact the pandemic is having on the mental health of families with sick or premature babies, our survey found more than 79% of parents had an increase in parental anxiety because of coronavirus. Moreover, 57% are concerned about their overall parental mental health amid the current COVID-19 outbreak.’

This survey helps to demonstrate the stress and anxiety the current crisis is causing for Miracle families, with many parents opening up about their experiences of being isolated.

"My Bub was discharged after 11 weeks in NICU on oxygen and therefore classed as higher risk as having been diagnosed with CLD. As such I have been limiting my interaction with the public and not taking the baby anywhere that is not essential. I have had high anxiety when needing to take her for respiratory appointments and have covered her chair with a wrap to ensure droplets are captured on that and not her. I only leave the house for a daily walk and I am struggling to think of new ways to stimulate her growing and developing mind while contracted at home.
I am missing out on socialising her and having her interact with people other than her parents as well as other babies. Because the QLD border is now closed my parents are no longer able to come and help out as they are in NSW however my partner is still away 5 days a fortnight for work so I am left to try and juggle the baby, dog, house cleaning and cooking solo. We are blessed that so far bubba has been amazing and has recently come off oxygen, but it is still something we are so conscious of and I hate that this first year of her life has been stuck inside not being able to explore the world like a new baby should" - Miracle Mum, Angela

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If you, or someone you know is needing support during the current crisis, please find a full list of resources and services available HERE.

 

Full survey results:

In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, do you consider your premature or sick newborn/s to be in the vulnerable group?

103 – Yes (90.3%)

5 – No (4.4%)

6  Don’t Know (5.3%)

 

In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, are you more or less concerned about your baby/babies health?

98 – More (86%)

16 – About the Same (14%)

 

In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, do you feel less likely to seek medical treatment for non COVID-19 related reasons due to fear of being in a medical centre or hospital?

88 – Yes (77.2%)

No – 21 (18%)

5 - Don’t Know (4.4%)

 

In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, has your parental anxiety increased?

91 – Yes (79.8%)

7 – No (6%)

16 – About The Same (14%)

 

In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, are you concerned about your parental mental health?

65 – Yes (57%)

35 – No (30%)

14 – Don’t Know (13%)

 

 

Main image: Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

 

Author

Miracle Babies Foundation

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