Lifestyle

Mums-to-be shun hospitals for fear of contracting COVID

Mums-to-be shun hospitals for fear of contracting COVID

A new survey has found women are changing their thoughts about where to have their babies because of COVID infections and social-distancing restrictions.

A survey of expectant mothers released on Monday by the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) found almost 30 per cent had reconsidered where they would have their baby.

More than half were worried about catching coronavirus, while 43 per cent had been told their support people couldn’t be in the delivery room with them.

As a result, more women were considering home births.

ACM midwifery adviser Dr Megan Cooper told NCA NewsWire pandemic or not, services should be available to pregnant women no matter where or how they chose to have their baby.

“Women felt like decisions were being made without their input,” she said, noting a lack of choices had led to a concerning increase in the number of expectant mothers considering freebirths, where there would be no medical assistance.

“We don’t advocate for that at all.

“Women should be entitled to receive care, it’s a human right.”

ACM opened the survey at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April.

Dr Cooper said while the restrictions in place at hospitals at the time were understandable, there was a lack of understanding about the impacts they were having on pregnant women.

Dr Cooper said while the rules varied at each hospital, the general consensus was to only have one other person in the delivery room.

“Mostly speaking it was their partner the woman wanted to be there with them,” she said.

“But because of the restrictions that were in place at the time, they couldn’t rely on grandparents or other people to look after their other children, meaning the men couldn’t be there for the birth.”

Dr Cooper said hospital restrictions and fears about contracting the virus had also led women to explore other options for prenatal care outside of the traditional hospital environment, including midwives.

But in some areas they had not been able to cope with the demand.

“When women went looking for another option, they couldn’t find it,” Dr Cooper said.

ACM has sent the survey to the Federal Government and plans to talk to state health departments across the country in a bid to increase awareness about the issues facing expectant mothers.

Dr Cooper said she hoped one of the good things to come out of the pandemic was that women would be more aware of the options available to them.

Almost 3000 people completed the ACM survey – which remains open – in the month between April 6 and May 1.