Demand for mums’ program jumps during pandemic
First-time Mum Carmela Allia was 16,000km away from her homeland when she gave birth to son Alexander in Brisbane during the coronavirus pandemic after an unexpected pregnancy.
With her support network of family and close friends on the other side of the world in Italy, the 32-year-old faced looking after her tiny 'pandennial' alone.
"This was a really stressful time in my life," the single mum said.
But a Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital social worker referred her to the White Cloud Foundation, a charity which helps struggling new mothers.
Ms Allia received nutritious meals during the final stages of her pregnancy and in the early weeks after she delivered Alexander in July.
"For the first two weeks after giving birth, that's all I was eating, just those meals," the 32-year-old said.
"I was so tired. The delivery was quite fast. I had some tears so I had to have surgery."
Ms Allia, in Australia on a student visa, had made plans to return to Italy for the birth of her son, but when the pandemic hit, she opted to stay in Brisbane, as Italian hospitals filled with COVID-19 cases.
"It was amazing to have the White Cloud Foundation meals when I first brought the baby home and he was feeding really frequently," she said.
"I was really lucky to get that help."
White Cloud Foundation founder Adam Scott said the charity had seen a 190 per cent increase in referrals during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
In the seven months to July 31, he said the foundation had delivered 5,025 meals to mums in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and southern Tasmania.
"That's just 176 meals more than what we delivered in the whole of 2019," he said.
"Many mothers are suffering depression and anxiety related to COVID-19 due to parents unable to be with them for support as a result of border closures, husbands losing jobs, financial pressures and general anxiety about catching the virus."
The Meals for Mums program recently expanded into Townsville.
Gemma Willing also received meals from White Cloud following a "very traumatic" first-time birth to daughter Coco at the RBWH on July 2.
"There were a lot of interventions," Ms Willing explained.
She and her partner have no family in Queensland and Ms Willing has been unable to see her Dad, who has cancer, since Coco's birth because of border lockdowns.
"That was very tough to be dealing with that during the pregnancy and even now, it's a juggle between highs and lows," Ms Willing said.
"Coco has brought so much happiness during such a hard time and having White Cloud, with its Meals for Mums program, especially with no family around, was just such a godsend."
The White Cloud Foundation hopes to expand to include a mental health telehealth service.
Referrals for Meals for Mums can be made by doctors, social workers, counsellors and other health professionals.
• To donate to the foundation: whitecloudfoundation.org