Her newborn baby was unwell. Her husband was told visiting hours were over.

When Amy Carpenter gave birth to her first child and he was unwell, she just wanted her husband Brendan to stay by her side. But it didn’t happen.

Amy, a diabetic, gave birth to Ari by caesarean at Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe, Tasmania in July. Ari had low blood sugar and, within a matter of hours, was transferred to North West Private Hospital in Burnie.

For the next couple of days, Brendan travelled between the two hospitals, more than 50km apart. He sent Amy photos and videos of their baby son, who was in intensive care.

As soon as she was allowed, Amy followed Ari to Burnie. Brendan came too. At the hospital in Latrobe, he had stayed the night in her room, sleeping in a chair. But at the hospital in Burnie, that wasn’t allowed, even though Amy was in a single room.

“Visiting hours finished at 7.30,” Amy tells Mamamia. “He was allowed to stay till eight and then told to go.”

The Carpenters asked if an exception could be made, but they were told no.

“‘It’s hospital policy,’ that’s all they kept saying.”

Brendan with baby Ari. Photo courtesy Amy Carpenter. 

Every evening, Brendan had to drive an hour back to their home. Amy would breastfeed Ari in the intensive care ward, then go back to her room alone.

"With Ari’s condition at the time, Brendan was stressed, and I was overwhelmed. I’d be ringing him up, crying at night, in my room, just a total mess, and he felt bad that he couldn’t be there for me."

Ari was still having blood tests done every few hours, and Amy feels Brendan should have been allowed to spend the night at the hospital.


"They view the father as a visitor, whereas he’s not a visitor, he’s an actual parent. Therefore, he should be allowed to stay."

When Amy's story was published by local newspaper, The Advocate, there was a huge response from people backing her stance.

"Fathers should be able to stay in maternity wards - they are a valuable source of physical and emotional support for their partners," one person posted. "If anything, they lessen the burden on nursing staff."

"It's so wrong, and sexist," another wrote. "Why don't fathers have equal rights to enjoy these moments and learn?"

Ari is now almost two months old and Amy says he's doing "fine". Photo courtesy Amy Carpenter. 

North West Private Hospital did not respond to Mamamia's request for a comment.  However, the hospital's chief executive, Keith Cock, confirmed to The Advocate that fathers were not allowed to stay overnight, but could stay outside the daytime visiting hours. He said patients needed their rest and the hospital had to be secured at a certain time.

Amy dismisses the idea that partners shouldn't be allowed to stay because new mums need to rest.

"We should be able to make that choice," she says.

She believes that all new mums' partners should be allowed to stay overnight at hospital, so long as they're in a single room, not sharing with other women.

"They're a parent, so they should have the same rights as the mum."