Stop Ontario Hospitals From Limiting Support Person During Labor and Postpartum

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Pregnant mothers in Ontario right now are facing unprecedented times in their lives preparing for the delivery of their child in the middle of a pandemic. Whether this is their first, second or multiple child, being pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic has caused many of us a great deal of stress as there is so much uncertainty. 

As a first time mother, hearing the news that only 1 support person would be allowed during delivery and postpartum was stressful in iteself knowing it would be just the two of us. Now, many hospitals across Ontario are requiring the support person to leave within 2 short hours of the mother delivering their child. Specifically, Markham Stouffville hospital, Sunnybrook Hospital and many others have recently put this new rule in place. 

The anxiety and stress that has now built up due to these changes are overwhelming to mothers (especially new mothers) who need that support, especially after delivery.

We already know nurses are stretched thin, so why strain the system even further? We understand that the nurses will do everything they can to make us comfortable and meet our needs as best they can, but what happens when all four or more of us in post partum care need assistance and there is no nurse available? The support person usually steps in to help the new mother as they are by her side. What about the mothers who will be getting C-Sections and can't move to change their new baby and they are alone now? They could be in the hospital for at least 3 days without their support person and have to rely on a system that is already strained. 

If the support person does not leave the room, remains with the mother and wears PPE (specifically if moved to a private room) why require them to leave? Understandably, this is a novel virus and a lot is unknown; however, with all the precautions being taken to flatten the curve, having a support person during such crucial times such as birth as well as death (palliative care) is essential to the mental health of those patients. There are steps the hospital can take to ensure the safety of the patients and staff without having remove the support person.

This plea goes out to those who can reconsider changing these rules back to allowing only 1 support person to remain with the mother during delivery and postpartum for the duration of the patient's stay and remain in the same room. 

For a country that values Mental Health, how is post-partum mental health being dismissed? We need to protect these newborns but we also need to protect mothers and not separate them from their support system.