'Very strange, amazingly quiet': Dawesville couple's experience welcoming a baby during COVID-19 pandemic

Preparing to give birth is both physically and emotionally exhausting at the best of times - let alone in the midst of a global pandemic.

As the uncertainty and panic of the coronavirus crisis took hold last month, Dawesville couple Chloe and Chris Swarts welcomed a new baby girl into the world.

Into a very unfamiliar, unpredictable and hard-to-understand world.

Maddie Lee was born on March 25 at Peel Health Campus - just days after restaurants, bars and clubs were closed throughout Australia, gatherings were banned and state borders were beginning to close.

And limits were placed on visitors in aged care facilities and hospitals.

"It was very strange, amazingly quiet," mum-of-three, Chloe, told the Mandurah Mail.

"The rule two weeks ago was that I was allowed one support person during the birth so that was my husband, Chris and he was allowed in the whole time and during normal visiting hours.

"For other visitors, it was only one person per day for one hour in the morning and one hour at night. I just had my mum the first day and my sister the next day and that was it in hospital.

"You don't really feel alone though because no one else is having visitors either. You could just hear mums and bubs all day."

You could just hear mums and bubs all day.

Chloe Swarts

Chloe compared the birth of Maddie to those of her other two children Rory, 4, and Pippa, 6 - surrounded by friends and family all eager to meet the family's bundle of joy.

"For Rory's birth, we had my whole family visit the next morning - my parents, grandparents and my sister. Then in the afternoon, my husband's parents and siblings came and my friends visited in the evening," she said.

"That was normal though, you know? When you have a new baby, everyone wants to come and see the baby while they're tiny.

"This time, it was obviously completely different.

"Even now that we're home pretty much the only people who have met her are those that came to hospital so my mum and dad and my sister - my husband's parents haven't met her yet and none of our friends.

"I think it's just sad that family and friends aren't able to see her grow up when babies do grow so quickly. If this goes for three months, she will be such a different baby by then."

Dawesville couple Chris and Chloe Swarts with their children Pippa, 6, Rory, 4, and newborn Maddie. Photo: Supplied.

Dawesville couple Chris and Chloe Swarts with their children Pippa, 6, Rory, 4, and newborn Maddie. Photo: Supplied.

Chloe said her family were starting to get used to this "new normal" since Maddie's birth, but nothing quite compared to the stress of her pregnancy as the whole world changed around her.

"Everything really ramped up in the last three weeks of my pregnancy - all these new restrictions were coming in so my brain was starting to consider the possibility of being alone in hospital," she said.

"I was probably my most emotional just before giving birth because I was already anxious and then considering what this new life would look like.

"Of course, our biggest fear was contracting the virus which a lot of people are obviously nervous about but our doctor said it was quite fascinating that babies are not really getting it, or definitely not dying from it."

Despite all the complications, restrictions and changes to adapt to as a new mother in the middle of a global pandemic, Chloe said there were "definitely positives to focus on".

"It's crazy times but we're just coming to the stage now of getting used to it a little bit and accepting that this is life now," she said.

"We quite enjoy this family time and I'm definitely less stressed and feel more in the moment.

"Maddie is doing so well and sleeping like an angel - I think because we are home and have no disruptions to the routine so it's been quite peaceful.

"I feel like it's been a bit more of an opportunity for Maddie and I to bond because there have been no distractions and that's pretty special.

"This will be something we talk about forever - we'll be telling her the stories as she grows up and showing her the photos which speak for themselves."