Birth Rights are Human Rights
Maternity services across NSW lockdown zones are applying different rules to birthing people and their access to support during labour and postnatal stays.
These are changing, so check with your own service provider what the situation is. From what I can ascertain, the current best-case scenario is 2 support people are allowed during labour and beyond, at worst it is 1 for the duration.
If you had planned for your partner to be your only support person and visitor, you're good to go.
If not, read on.
There are many situations where 1 labour support and visitor is not the most appropriate scenario.
These may include, but are not limited to, situations where:
-You and your baby are likely to be separated after birth and each want a support person present (e.g. c-section, expecting multiple babies or a baby with health complications).
-Culturally safe birth means Women’s Business, but Dad needs to meet their baby.
-Your partner needs to leave the hospital for whatever reason and you require a secondary supporter.
-You have had a previously traumatic birth experience.
There are no guarantees of gaining an exemption from hospital rules, but you are within your rights to apply for one.
The process as I understand it is to:
1. Draft a letter as to why you require an additional support person during labour, postnatally or both.
2. Gather any supporting documentation you can from your medical team. This may be your counsellor, psychologist, paediatrician or genetecist giving their unbiased opinion on your support needs in writing. Private doulas may also be able to provide a letter of support from their registering body, Doula Network Australia.
3. Identify and ask to speak with the person at the hospital most likely to be able to help you ahead of time. This may be an Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Maternity Liaison Officer for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse families, or a social worker.
4. Ask this person to assist you in presenting your exemption letter and supporting documents to the nursing or midwifery unit manager, your obstetrician (if relevant), and also to any heads of departments involved in decision making process.
Birth rights issues are human rights issues.
Undoubtedly, some will say that restricting movements of people into hospitals is essential to stop the spread, and to an extent, I agree.
I also know that the government has approved funerals of up to 100 people, so maybe we could start protecting our healthcare workers by restricting contact outside of the hospital, not by policing women and families (who are likely to have been cautious in late pregnancy anyway) who know what support they need to birth as safely as possible inside of it.
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