Ease SA birth restrictions - December 2021
Ease SA birth restrictions - December 2021
I am starting this petition today as a woman, a mother, a birth worker and a concerned and disturbed member of society. The current restrictions on birthing people in South Australia are unfair, unjust and unacceptable.
Over the past few days I have been speaking to a range of women who have and are affected by the current restrictions on maternity care in South Australia. Women are attending scans and antenatal appointments alone (even when there’s cause for concern), afraid of what their birth be like in hospital with current restrictions, even labouring alone for hours and hours when they’re in early labour or being induced, and caring for newborns or small children with very limited support.
It is a basic human right and a World Health Organisation recommendation that all women have the option to have a chosen companion/s and support person/s present with them during their labour, birth, and postpartum period. This should also include if they’re in hospital with sick kids. It is also a WHO guideline that the women’s partner or support person be welcomed to attend antenatal care with the woman to encourage shared decision making, and health for mother and newborn.
Right now, in South Australia, women are attending antenatal appointments (scans included), labouring, caring for newborns while recovering themselves, and sometimes even birthing alone, their partners and support people are told not to come, given a limited time to visit or turned away. Women that need more than one support person in labour are being left without any other option. Women are afraid and unsupported leaving them in a vulnerable and emotional state.
The current restrictions are damaging women during what should be a beautiful transition in their lives. Women are stressed, anxious, worried, and fearful about what may happen during their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care. I would hate to see how the Postpartum Depression rates have already risen and continue to rise while these restrictions are in place. Currently, parents of sick kids must choose who will be in hospital caring for their sick child full time with limited support while the other parent only gets to see their child for 2 hours per day. Put yourself in their shoes!
In WA women can have two support people during labour and birth. In NSW, within the recent complete lockdown The Minister for Health, Hon. Brad Hazzard reduced restrictions on maternity services to allow a minimum of 1 support person for all of labour, birth, and postpartum hospital care. We aren’t in lockdown and are supposedly meant to be reducing restrictions, instead you’ve increased them to be the same as during a lockdown. In South Australia, our current vaccination rate of first dose is over 90% and double vaccinated is over 80%, and you’ve opened our borders. You knew cases of COVID-19 were going to come to SA from doing this, but what is the point in doing it if you’re just going to put tougher restrictions on some of the most emotionally vulnerable people in our community. A holistic approach must be taken to care for people’s mental health when we as a whole are following your recommendation and getting vaccinated. To care for the birthing women and new parents in our communities our current birthing, postpartum, and paediatrics restrictions in SA need to be dramatically reduced.
As a concerned member of society, I am requesting the following:
That all women attending hospital for regular antenatal appointments (including scans) be permitted to one chosen support person with them at all times. This will reduce the stress, anxiety and provide more support to the whole family, especially the mother.
That all women are permitted to have, at minimum, 2 support people, with them throughout their entire labour (including early labour and inductions) and birth whilst in hospital with no need to apply for an exemption.
That all women birthing in hospital are permitted to have one chosen support person after they have given birth, without time restrictions. This would ensure all women who have given birth are adequately supported in their postpartum period and would also reduce the burden on staff.
Parents of children on paediatric wards in hospital are allowed 2 support people for the child with no time restrictions. This will ensure the child and both parents have the support and time they need with each other, lessen the risk of poor mental health, and reduce the burden on staff to act as support people on top of their ordinary workload.
Please hear our calls. Please effect positive change in this domain. Please put women first.
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