A first-time single mother who was reported by her doctor for driving one week after a caesarean had her licence suspended.
The suspension impeded the woman's ability to visit her premature baby in neonatal ICU at John Hunter Hospital, with her describing the situation to the Sydney Morning Herald as "incredibly distressing."
The 42-year-old Newcastle mum - who chose to remain anonymous - gave birth in early September and a week afterwards attended an appointment with her GP to obtain a certificate clearing her to drive. She told the doctor that she felt fine and was no longer taking pain medication.
The GP refused the request, informing the new mum that she was medically unfit to drive and she would report her to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) for ignoring medical advice.
The RMS stripped the woman of her licence a few days after the appointment, cutting off her only means of visiting her child in hospital, which is eight kilometres from her home.
Current guidelines - which are under review - recommend that women abstain from driving for two to six weeks after a caesarean section.
"I went through the [RANZCOG] checklist before I started driving," the woman told the Herald. "As the sole parent to my child, there was no way I would have driven if I thought I was putting myself or anyone else at physical risk."
The checklist recommends women should "assess whether they can comfortably sit in the car, work the controls, wear a seatbelt, look over their shoulder, make an emergency stop, and be free from the effects of sedating medications."
"It was incredibly distressing to think that my baby could need me and my one means of getting to him was taken away from me," she explained, adding, "If something happened in the middle of the night I would have had to wait for someone to drive me to the hospital."
There is no current mandatory reporting required of GPs in such incidences where a mother starts driving sooner than the recommended guidelines state. Doctors, however, can submit voluntary reports.
"Rather than rely on the fact that a woman has recently had a caesarean, we would recommend doctors assess her overall physical ability to drive based on a full evaluation," said RANZCOG college president Dr Vijay Roach.
While Transport for NSW reinstated the woman's licence this week, the experience has left the new mother distressed.
"I was traumatised by what happened… I was distraught," she said.