‘I had to leave a woman as she was pushing a baby out’
A DOULA has told how she was forced to leave a woman as she was giving birth due to a Brisbane hospital's strict 'one support person' policy introduced to combat COVID-19.
As a doula, Moran Liviani's clients employ her to provide guidance and support through pregnancy, birth and beyond.
But she said an unforgiving policy at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital meant women were being forced to choose between their partner and their doula to be with them when they gave birth.
"Since COVID-19, they put a lot of new restrictions in and one of the guidelines from Queensland Health was that hospitals can implement a one support person policy to minimise the risk to the healthcare workers and other women on the ward," she said.
"It was a guideline, so the hospitals can adhere to the guideline or choose not to."
Ms Liviani said while other Brisbane hospitals had granted exemptions for doulas to join their clients and partners in the birth suite, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital had not.
"We're literally there for women emotionally, mentally and physically throughout the whole course of their pregnancy and labour and birth and post natal as well," she said.
"To kind of cut that off when we reach the hospital is really devastating for mothers. I had to leave a woman at the Royal when she was pushing a baby out."
"So one support person, they basically said you have to leave. And this mother said 'please don't leave me' but I had no choice but to leave her."
Ms Liviani said she had a lot more mothers birthing at the Mater Mothers' Hospital, who she said had given an exemption for doulas to enter the hospital.
"And that's fantastic. You can have your partner and you can get an exemption for your doula, so you don't have to choose between your partner and your doula," she said.
"But they're not budging at the Royal. We're not asking them to change the one support person policy. There's not many women who come in with a doula, so we're just asking them to make the exemption."
Ms Liviani said one of her clients was due to give birth at the RBWH in June, and was stressed about not being able to have both her partner and her doula in the room when she does.
"She's really upset by that because she really wants that support," she said.
A new mum - who didn't want to be named - said her doula wasn't allowed to be present at her child's recent birth at the RBWH.
"She came up to the birth suite and was stopped before we could go in, and she was told she wasn't allowed to. We were kind of anticipating that," she said.
"But it was very hard and very emotional. I cried. You're just hoping they're going to be there, this coach, this guide. And then to know that they probably won't make it in, it's an overwhelming experience."
The woman said her doula had been with her since she was 25 weeks pregnant, and that not being allowed to have her in the birth suite with her partner increased her stress levels.
"I'd had a rough birth with my first born so we hired our doula to help us navigate the second birth. To not have her there made it difficult."
A spokesman for the Mater Mothers' Hospital said the Chief Health Officer has determined the position on hospital visitors as per the Public Health Act.
"The Mater has sought specific advice on this matter and will consider exemptions to the Visitor Direction for doulas. This is conditional upon the woman, her support person and doula all being well and having passed a hospital entry health screen, as happens for all other patients and visitors at Mater."
A Metro North Hospital and Health Service spokesperson said the RBWH is committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
"To ensure we keep our patients, staff and community safe, we have implemented visitor restrictions which are aligned with social distancing rules," he said.
"Understanding that women giving birth to a child may require additional support, we have and will continue to allow patients in the birth suite to have one support person present throughout the birth, provided the support person is well. This person can be a partner, friend, family member, doula or anyone else they choose."
Originally published as 'I had to leave a woman as she was pushing a baby out'