The boss of a Dundee charity has said she is “concerned” for the emotional wellbeing of women who have experienced a miscarriage or abortion during the coronavirus lockdown.
Rachel MacDonald, centre manager of Alternatives Dundee, has urged those in need to reach out during this “very isolating time”.
As a result of Covid-19, women across Scotland can now have early medical abortions at home, to help reduce the number of people attending clinics and avoid exposing them to the virus.
Rachel said: “I think we’ll see in the future what impact this has, but the main thing to be aware of is that it’s very isolating.
“This whole time is so isolating because the normal places where you can have a face-to-face chat with a nurse are just not available and that’s what would concern me for the future.
“In terms of pregnancy choices that makes it difficult as well, because if you’re wanting to talk things through there’s very little opportunity to have these conversations with professionals.”
The changes to the termination of pregnancy service started at NHS Tayside on April 15 and were based on legislative changes by the Scottish Government.
“People feel like they’re under threat because of this whole situation,” Rachel said.
“If you’re in any way experiencing that and then having to make a difficult and very isolating decision on top of that, my worries are that the whole situation becomes more traumatic than it would have been had people been able to go out and chat things through with their friends.
“Relationships are so important in these traumatic times and when they become more difficult and people are more isolated, I would be worried that the whole situation makes it more difficult for some people to come to terms with.
“I think it’s so important that there is a place where people can go to that they know they’ve got full permission to talk through whatever they’re feeling and experiencing.
“The biggest advice I would give to anyone in this situation is to be compassionate with yourself.
“We’re in a time that’s really difficult for everybody and then to go through something difficult on top of that? We’re asking a lot to just be able to cope and manage.
“We need to allow a compassionate way of understanding ourselves and what’s happened and we need to be able to find a place to talk about it.”
The team at Alternatives Dundee have moved to telephone counselling, as a result of all face-to-face support stopping.
They’ve also introduced virtual support rooms due to many younger service users not being comfortable talking on the phone.
Rachel added: “It’s difficult. I don’t think young people are that used to phone calls and so it’s an unfamiliar way of communicating. We’ve got the chat messenger set up because that seems to be a much more comfortable situation.
“I think people have an idea that they can’t really talk about feelings or things of that nature over the phone.
“Perhaps, in the long term, having these secure chat rooms set up will become something that’s really used and will make our services accessible to people who wouldn’t have wanted face-to-face support.”
Women can now self-refer to the abortion service by calling 01382 496762 Monday to Friday between 8am and 5pm. Further information can be found by clicking this link.
Early Pregnancy Services, including advice and support for women who have experienced a miscarriage, remain in place as usual.
Women who have concerns regarding their pregnancy can contact their midwives by telephone and self-refer or they can attend hospital via their GP.
Due to Covid-19 and the temporary restrictions in place around visiting, women are unable to bring a partner or friend to their appointment.
However NHS Tayside have said that there will be situations where women may require support from their partner, family or friend to help them discuss choices and this is supported where appropriate.
Anyone looking for more information regarding the support Alternatives Dundee offers can click this link.