McGowan Government digs heels in on unfair maternity ward restrictions

May 4, 2021 | State News, WA Labor

The McGowan Labor Government has refused to budge on its ‘blunt instrument’ approach to the maternity hospital visitor and support people guidelines being applied in lock down and post lock down periods, according to Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam.

The restrictions currently limit birthing mothers to only one support person and one visitor (inclusive of the support/birth partner) per day.

“This has meant many pregnant women are having to choose between their partner or their doula or nominated midwife,” Ms Mettam said. 

“I’ve heard from some mothers that they have not been able to have support people with them if they are not in active labour, meaning they are experiencing inductions and in some cases, miscarriages, alone. 

“This blunt instrument approach is having a significant impact on the mental health of pregnant mothers and their families.

“At a time when these women are at their most vulnerable, enduring significant stress, pain and in some cases trauma, they are alone. 

When questioned about the nonsensical policy today, the Health Minister dug his heels in and refused to review it.

“It makes absolutely no sense that we can allow 100 people at a wedding or 20 people at gatherings, yet impose such stringent restrictions on these women,” Ms Mettam said. 

Ms Mettam said the restrictions were unfair and inconsistent and appealed for a common sense approach from the McGowan Government. 

“This is supposed to be one of the most magical and life-changing periods in a mother’s life yet there are many that say the stress of birthing under these restrictions has exacerbated mental health issues such as post-natal depression, post-traumatic stress and anxiety,” Ms Mettam said. 

“There is no one-size-fits-all blanket approach in these circumstances and I implore the Health Minister to release the health advice which states this is necessary, given the very real risks to women forced to birth alone, and review these heartless restrictions as a priority.”

Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the Government’s inconsistent approach was causing distress.

“Our offices have received a high level of correspondence on this issue from across the State, indicating that the Government’s hardline approach is causing distress for families,” Ms Davies said.

“We would simply ask the Government to take a more pragmatic and sensitive approach to this issue and reconsider the current restrictions in light of the minimised COVID restrictions for other significant events such as weddings and funerals.”