End Birth Restrictions in South Australia
End Birth Restrictions in South Australia
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, and even labouring alone for hours and hours when they’re in early labour or being induced.
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. 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 and sometimes even birthing alone, their partners and support people are told not to come or turned away. They are being induced or attending hospital in early hospital and their partners are sent home and told to come back when the woman is in ‘active labour’. This means women are labouring for long periods and/or alone during a major life transition. 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.
In WA women can have two support people during labour and birth. In NSW, within the current 6-week lockdown The Minister for Health, Hon. Brad Hazzard has reduced restrictions on maternity services to allow a minimum of 1 support person for all of labour, birth, and postpartum hospital care. As of this weekend, SA can have 1000 people at local outdoor sporting events and 1 support person at indoor sporting events. If these restrictions can be in place, our current birthing restrictions in SA need to be dramatically reduced.
The World Health Organisation recommends a companion of choice for all women throughout labour and childbirth. Yet many hospitals in South Australia not allowing partners at all, or only allowing them for the ‘birth’ and not the full labour (including early labour and inductions). Research shows that companionship during labour and childbirth reduces instrumental vaginal birth, reduces the instance of postpartum depression, reduces the length of labour, and increases the incidence of spontaneous vaginal birth, having a companion during labour and birth reduces the incidence of caesarean section by 25% and the use of pain relief by 10%.
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, one chosen support person (partner or otherwise), preferably 2 support people allowed, 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.
Please hear our calls. Please effect positive change in this domain. Please put women first.
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