Hospital restrictions made exciting time nerve-racking for soon-to-be parents

Previous tough rules added to first-time parents' anxiety

Now one regional centre has improved its COVID status, restrictions on its its hospital visitor guidelines have been loosened.

The decision to adapt the rules is expected to be well-received after soon-to-be first-time parents went public about their anxiety at the prospect of a very different delivery day to the one they had expected.

Ballarat Health Services acting executive director acute operations Carolyn Robertson said on Thursday, visitor restrictions were subject to change based on an assessment of the level of risk of transmission in the community.

Earlier this week, Kira Murphy and Daniel Grist submitted a complaint to Ballarat Health Services about 'strict' rules that dictated a partner or support person can attend during labour, but must leave two hours immediately after birth.

Ms Murphy was due to give birth to the couple's first child on Sunday and found out during an appointment with her midwife on Monday about the rule.

"Up until the appointment on Monday we were so positive and excited," she said.

"Following that it has really taken away the excitement a little bit and made us a bit nervous. As soon as I left (the appointment) I couldn't stop crying. The more I think about it, it is a really hard thing to do and not be able to have your partner or support person there."

Ballarat Health Services.

Ballarat Health Services.

Victorian government guidelines state a pregnant woman or maternity ward patient can have their partner or support person visit or attend hospital with them. The guidelines recommend individuals check with their hospital as they may have additional restrictions for visitors.

Ballarat Health Services' website states one partner or support person can attend when the patient is in labour and for two hours immediately after the birth. No partners are permitted for clinic appointments.


There is no time limit for visitors in many Melbourne hospitals including The Royal Women's Hospital and St Vincent's Private Hospital.

"Why is it different for BHS if there can be visitors in Melbourne where there has been cases? Why is it so strict here?," Ms Murphy said.

"It makes it difficult. We are first-time parents so we already don't know what to expect and you just hope that it all goes smoothly.

"But if I had to have a c-section and I am in there for a few days, it is a long time to be away from your partner and it is hard on them as well. It is already hard to think about if it doesn't go to plan and now it is going to be even worse."

Ms Murphy said Mr Grist was anxious about missing out.

"They said if I have to be induced you have to go in for the induction by yourself and once you are in labour your partner can come in," Ms Murphy said. "He hates the idea of dropping me off at the hospital and then going home to wait."

Ms Murphy said the two-hour limit did not make sense.

"Say I had to get stitched up, they say the baby should be skin to skin on the mum for two hours and then they should go to the dad for skin to skin. They will be missing out on that as well," she said.

Ballarat Health Services acting executive director acute operations Carolyn Robertson said in a statement staff were currently reassessing visitor restrictions based on information available.

She said the two-hour time limit for a patient's support person after birth was brought in based on lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 activity in the community.

"The welfare of our community... continues to be at the forefront of our response to COVID-19."