Statement on support persons

31 March 2020

The unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic will place stress on the provision of antenatal, birthing and postnatal services across Australia and New Zealand. Pregnancy, childbirth and parenting are not elective and all efforts should be made to reduce the impact of the current disruptions on pregnant women and their families.
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) President Dr Vijay Roach said: “It is most important at this time that women continue to access, and receive, antenatal, birthing and postnatal care from appropriately trained health professionals.  The safest place to give birth is in a hospital, or birthing unit, where highly trained midwives, and doctors, can care for you, and facilities are available if you become unwell.”
Apart from necessary screening procedures and careful hygiene protocols, women should expect that their experience of pregnancy and birth should be minimally affected. Women with diagnosed, or suspected, COVID-19 infection may require additional precautions.
To reduce the movement of people, and risk of exposure, RANZCOG advises that women should attend the hospital with one support person only, who will also be screened for risk of COVID-19 infection. During the hospital stay, visitors should be restricted to one person per day. Where appropriate, women should leave hospital on early discharge with community support in place.
The College supports World Health Organisation recommendations that a chosen support person should be able to accompany a woman giving birth. There is no current plan to change this advice.
Dr Roach said: “Pregnancy and childbirth are such an important time in a woman’s life. We must work together to safeguard women’s mental health, experience during birth and facilitate and support parents’ connection with their newborn babies.”

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