"Postpartum care"

About: King Edward Memorial Hospital / Maternity

(as the patient),

I would like to provide feedback following my recent admission a few months ago to KEMH for the birth of my first child. I was admitted for an induction of labour, which culminated in me having a non-elective caesarean section for foetal distress. While I was generally happy with the antenatal care provided to me, as well as the labour/caesarean midwifery and medical care, my postpartum experience when I was admitted to the delivery ward was very negative.

Firstly I have general feedback around the visitor restrictions. I believe the strict visiting rules due to COVID 19, of which the key support person/ partner/birth father is included as a visitor had a very adverse effect on my post-natal experience, mental health and recovery. I think many other mothers would feel the same in my opinion. After the delivery, as I had a c-section, I was unable to get out of bed for 24 hours. Although I felt the midwives do their best to help, they are understandably busy with other patients I believe. Therefore the first 24 hours on my own, with a new baby and no support person present were extremely stressful. At times my baby would be crying and as I couldn’t get out of bed, there was no one there to help settle, pick up or bring me my baby. I could not reach them to breastfeed – and again, although the midwives do their best, a delay of 15 – 20 minutes with a new baby crying is in my opinion, very adverse to maternal mental health and attachment. Additionally, while I was grateful to be visited by a number of health professionals in the two days following birth, they all visited in the morning, when I was alone and in my severely sleep-deprived state and still with strong painkillers on board, I did not absorb much of the information they gave me. I think one key support person with the mother is essential to help new mothers take on the information provided in the immediate postpartum period.

Secondly, I have specific feedback around one midwife coordinator on my delivery ward. On the day of discharge, I was anticipated to leave around midday. I therefore called my husband in the morning, to help me pack up my belongings and baby and wait with me, while I received the final medications, discharge paperwork etc. When he arrived on the ward, the coordinator came into my room and criticised me for calling my husband in, stating I was not sticking to the visitor rules. This was despite the fact he would be taking me home a couple of hours later. I was shocked when they made my husband go home, only allowing him to return when I was ready. I proceeded to pack all my bags and belongings myself (despite not meant to lift anything heavy post-caesarean) all while still trying to learn to breastfeed and comfort my baby. I could not believe my husband was not allowed to stay on that final morning, to help me get ready for discharge and take me out. I believe this is really taking the visitor restrictions too far. 

I believe that one consistent support person is required at least during day time hours. I strongly believe KEMH need to think about the potential short and long-term adverse effects such strict visitor restrictions in the first few days after discharge, can have on maternal health and wellbeing and the flow-on effect this may have on the health and wellbeing of the infant. 


Response from Jodi Graham, Executive Director, Women and Newborn Health Service last month
We have made a change
Jodi Graham
Executive Director,
Women and Newborn Health Service
Submitted on 26/08/2020 at 11:28
Published on Care Opinion at 11:28

picture of Jodi Graham

Dear bargainsn63,

I would like to congratulate you on the birth of your first child, and thank you for sharing your birthing story with me. I am sorry to hear that your postpartum experience with the King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) was a negative one.

I would like to apologise for the distress that the current visiting hours restrictions at the King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH), has caused you. I understand that the current guidelines that the Women and Newborn Health Service has implemented as a part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic are considerably more restrictive on our birthing partner and visitor policies. Please be assured that the visiting hours have been scheduled in line with Department of Health guidelines to ensure that both mother and baby have adequate rest time in their day to recover from their surgery or labour and birth.

Babies are precious and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as taking all reasonable precautions to protect the safety of new mums and their families. Equally, I can understand that the current restrictions on visiting hours impact the amount of support that a new mother may have from her family members and I would like to apologise once again for the distress that this has caused you and your family.

We rely on feedback such as yours to ensure that we make the best decisions for our patients and the community. As a result of your feedback, the visitor guidelines were reviewed and updated to address support partners attending the hospital on the day of a patient’s discharge. Exceptions to the visiting restrictions will be made for women being discharged outside of 3:00pm to 7:00pm. With regards to the maternity visiting hours, up to two birthing partners are permitted to attend with a woman in labour on the labour and birth suite. Those same two birth partners can progress to the postnatal wards. Once your birthing partner(s) leave the hospital, they can return to the hospital between the hospital visiting hours of 3:00pm to 7:00pm.

I do hope that you are recovering well and enjoying your time with your new child.

Kind regards

Jodi Graham

Executive Director, WNHS

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