Excited expectant parents are not allowed to have professional photos taken of the birth of their babies at Queensland's largest hospital.
But following the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital (RBWH) crackdown on the snaps, a Brisbane-based birth photographer has asked the hospital to relax its rules, venting her frustration in a lengthy Facebook post.
Michelle Palasia said she received confirmation from the hospital, in Herston, Brisbane, that their policy around birth photography has changed, affecting both the birth centre and the birth suite.
"Photography is allowed BEFORE the birth and AFTER the birth but no photography will be allowed of the ACTUAL birth itself. This, in itself, is quite ambiguous but that's a discussion for later!" she said in a Facebook comment posted on Monday.
Ms Palasia started a petition that has garnered more than 9000 signatures at the time of writing.
"Every parent has the right to document their birthing experience. To enforce restrictions on this is beyond ridiculous," one angry parent wrote in the comments section of the petition.
"As someone who has lost her precious baby shortly after birth, photos are all I have to remember my son by. For me and the many other families who lose their babies every day, not having these photos would cause immense further heartbreak," another wrote.
The professional photographer claims that parents have not been told about the policy.
However RBWH executive director Dr Amanda Dines said the hospital's policy has been longstanding, despite the fact photographers said they have "thousands" of images of "during birth" photos previously taken at the hospital.
Dr Dines said the hospital isn't against mums and dads having a professional photographer before and after birth — just not during, as it is a safety concern.
"Complications are rare, but can arise very quickly during a birth, so it's crucial our team can perform their duties with the utmost care and attention, with no other distraction, so they can continue to provide focused care," Dr Dines said.
"While we make every effort to make our birthing suites as warm and homely as possible, they are clinical procedural areas. They are still highly technical areas with a range of emergency equipment on hand, so having additional people with additional equipment can potentially get in the way of the work our clinicians need to do."
Ms Palasia said the policy was another example of birth autonomy being stripped away from photographers.
"Seeing these images and reliving the moment you met your baby, floods the body with oxytocin which not only enhances your relationship with your baby by triggering nurturing feelings and behaviours, but also assists in the release of milk in breastfeeding."
She said that from a psychological point of view, a documented birth story can also act as a therapy tool after a traumatic birth.
"I know of psychologists that have requested clients take their documented birth story with them to their appointment to help process what they've been through."
Dr Dines added that parents can still take personal photos of the entire delivery process, including during birth.
"We have always encouraged parents to document what is one of the most remarkable experiences they will ever have, however we have also always asked that this is done in a way that supports the important job our midwives and doctors do," she told news.com.au.
Sydney-based obstetrician Dr Ric Porter, who has delivered more than 5000 babies over the past 40 years, said he has never come across a professional photographer being in the delivery room — and while he doesn't have a problem with it, he can understand from a medical perspective why the ban has been enforced.
"If something was to go wrong or suddenly it was an emergency, you don't want extra people in the room.
"You are working hard and sometimes it is a life and death situation, so you don't want any extra people in the room. We even have to ask close relatives to leave sometimes."
On the Today show this morning Daily Telegraph's opinion editor James Morrow weighed in on the debate, saying he agreed with the hospital's longstanding rule.
"It's not your wedding, this is a birth. It is a very personal medical procedure and I think the question really is, who is this all about?" Morrow said.
"Ultimately it's about bringing a healthy baby into this world and going home with a healthy baby.
"If this is getting in the way of the delivery process then yes, you really want to crack down."