Forum: Tightened Covid-19 restrictions at maternity wards add to mothers' stress

I am disappointed to hear about tightened restrictions at hospitals during phase three (heightened alert).

Pregnant women, while likely experiencing contractions, need to take an uncomfortable antigen rapid test before admission.

Most hospitals allow only two visitors (apart from the spouse) for a maximum of 30 minutes. Some hospitals have suspended doula services altogether.

Maternal stress levels are at an all-time high as traditional sources of support are more difficult to secure.

Economic uncertainty, work-from-home arrangements and isolation further contribute to the stress. These tightened restrictions do not help.

We should review hospital restrictions for maternity wards and allow doulas, siblings and grandparents to support new parents at the hospital.

While doulas are not considered essential healthcare workers, they are often essential to the mental and emotional well-being of new mums because of the unique round-the-clock support they provide.

Also, I hope the Ministry of Health will review its policies regarding water births.

While I understood why water births were suspended at the start of the pandemic when not much information about the virus was available, I do not understand why the restriction is still in place when we understand the virus so much better.

I have been through two water births and do not see any significant difference in the risk exposure to the mother or healthcare workers, as long as the healthcare worker uses proper protective equipment and practises hand hygiene after receiving the baby in the water (which in my experience was less than a minute).

Many mums experience weepiness and depression in the hours after birth. I hope we can provide them with the emotional and mental support they need by relaxing the restrictions for maternity wards.

While it is important to keep everyone safe during this pandemic, we should also strike a reasonable balance.

Quek Shi Wei

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.