Giving birth and raising children in the middle of a worldwide pandemic is no easy feat.
Parents have had to face many challenges, including being limited to one support person during birth and experiencing isolation from their loved ones while caring for a newborn at home.
However, if the birth rate at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital is anything to go by, the uncertainty in the world has not impacted the numbers of babies born locally.
According to the Mid North Coast Local Health District there were 822 babies born at Port Macquarie Base Hospital in 2020, up from 796 in 2019. The data from 2021 has not been released.
Port Macquarie mother Kylie Bigeni is one parent who has navigated her way through the ups and downs of giving birth and raising children through the pandemic.
Mrs Bigeni and her husband Kiel have four children and her youngest, Bonnie was born in March, 2021.
Due to lockdowns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to juggle homeschooling their two older daughters, while caring for a toddler and a baby who often doesn't want to sleep.
The couple's family members have been unable to visit, as stay-at-home orders under the most recent lockdown prevented them from travelling.
"Usually I'd have my mum here every week helping out," she said.
Mrs Bigeni said it's been hard to stay positive, but she credited her husband with providing incredible support throughout the often chaotic times.
"You try and get through the bad days as best you can," she said.
Port Macquarie midwife Megan Nourse practices privately and said there has been an increased demand for her service.
Ms Nourse provides support to women during home births, and also cares for them in the immediate days and weeks following the arrival of their babies.
Ms Nourse said she's seen a lot of pregnant women suffering from anxiety and depression.
She has also been worried about the welfare of mothers who have been forced to isolate at home during lockdown and unable to have family visit for intergenerational support.
"Women are not meant to give birth in a bubble," she said.
"We're meant to raise our babies in a big community of family and we don't have that now."
Ms Nourse credited today's parents as being resourceful and strong despite these challenging times.
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