‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was a poster designed to raise the morale of the British public in the face of mass air attacks on major cities ahead of World War II in 1939. It’s such a simple message, one that has been reinvented over and over again to suit all the myriad stressful situations we face. As COVID-19 threatens the Australian lifestyle, it’s a message we can pick up once more.

Calm the pulse. Keep moving forward.

If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy in the middle of this unsteady season, please know that you are not alone.
Support is still available. Whatever your circumstances, there is still a way forward, a way for you to carry this baby and “carry on”.

We also want to acknowledge the increased difficulties that the coronavirus may have created for you.

Facing financial hardship?

Financial help is available for you. Centrelink, for example, pays various allowances that you may be eligible for, including the Family Tax Benefit (which is income-tested), Parental Leave and the single parent allowance (or Parent Payment Single, PPS) for parents of children under eight years old. This can be as much as $750 per fortnight. Centrelink also has avenues for claiming crisis payments, and rent assistance, and community engagement officers and social workers are available to speak to if need be. During this COVID-19 pandemic, there are additional payments you can claim also, depending on your circumstances.

When you’re ready to return to work, you will be entitled to the Family Child Care Subsidy. You can hop online to calculate how much that will be, based on your average income, number of children in care and how much work you are doing.

The father of your child is required by law to contribute to the financial costs involved with raising your child. You can find out more about this here.

Is your head reeling at all this info? Then look up your local pregnancy support centre. These places are buzzing with people who want to help make your pregnancy journey enjoyable and stress-free. They know all about the finer points of financial support, so let them lend you a hand.

Is self-isolation dangerous for you?

Much of the information about how to contain the coronavirus pandemic in Australia centres around the importance of social distancing and self-isolation. We want to acknowledge that self-isolating for women who are in domestic violence situations can be extremely dangerous. If this is you, let’s be clear: you are not expected to be a prisoner at home where there is a risk to you. If it’s not safe for you to self-isolate, reach out to friends or family. If you are in immediate danger, call 000 now. Otherwise, contact one of the following domestic violence support services:

Feeling alone?

It can feel lonely coming to terms with something so life-changing as pregnancy. Don’t do it alone. Find a trusted friend or family member to share the news with, someone who will listen to everything you’ve been trying to process in your head. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, you still don’t have to go it alone. There are some amazing people waiting to speak with you at decision support services all around Australia. Here’s a link to both national and local services.

Worried about catching coronavirus while pregnant?

Here’s some good news for you. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics (RANZCOG) released a statement on Monday (March 23) stating that, while pregnant women should be treated as a vulnerable or at-risk group for precautionary reasons, there is not yet any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is a risk to mothers or their unborn babies.

“…at this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more severely unwell if they develop COVID-19 infection than the general population. It is expected the large majority of pregnant women will experience only mild or moderate cold/flu like symptoms.

For women who are trying to conceive, or who are in early pregnancy, there is no evidence to suggest an increased risk of miscarriage with COVID-19. Furthermore, there is also no evidence that the virus can pass to your developing baby while you are pregnant (this is called vertical transmission) or that the virus will cause abnormalities in your baby.”

Stay up to date on COVID-19 research into the effects on pregnant women here. This page includes information and recommendations on antenatal care, birth, breastfeeding and more.

Keep calm and carry on

Most importantly, keep calm dear friend. Don’t forget how strong and capable you are. Don’t underestimate your ability to rise up to the challenge, even in the midst of a more challenging time than usual. We’re all in this together, and you’ll find us a supportive community if you simply reach out for help.

Need more info?
The most trustworthy places to gather general information on the COVID-19 pandemic right now are:
the Australian Department of Health, and
the World Health Organisation.

In these challenging times if you would like to help us, and help those on the frontline support women, mothers and babies, please consider donating to www.emilysvoice.com/give. Thank you.

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