An online petition calling for the provision of adequate bathroom facilities at Wollongong Hospital's temporary birthing unit has racked up more than 1650 signatures in just two days.
The birthing unit will be temporarily relocated to a former intensive care unit for up to six months from January, while a $2.2 million upgrade of the existing unit takes place.
However Thirroul resident Kate Brandreth, who started the change.org petition, said the lack of private bathroom facilities was "unacceptable" and she's called on NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to intervene.
She's asked for a hold on the upgrade until these essential facilities are able to be provided.
"The temporary birthing unit has no private bathroom facilities - which means there's no baths, so no water birth facilities, and no private showers or toilets," she said.
"It's unacceptable. A private bathroom and options for a water birth are essential for women in labour.
"While I was in labour I was able to use a shower for pain relief - I can't imagine having to go out of the birthing room to try and access shared facilities while in labour.
"So I started the petition to call on the health minister to provide the necessary bathroom facilities in the temporary unit, and the response has been overwhelming."
Wollongong woman Kate Sergent is one of many who've signed the petition, and with her due date in early February she'll be among the hundreds of women who will have to give birth in the temporary unit.
"I gave birth to my first child at Wollongong Hospital in 2018 and was really lucky to be part of the Midwifery Group Practice program, so I had a very positive birthing experience," she said.
"It's fantastic that the birthing unit is being upgraded but I assumed that any temporary unit would have access to private toilets and showers, as well as a bath.
"I'm in disbelief that those basic facilities won't be available. I'm 31 weeks pregnant, busy with a toddler, and this is adding so much stress and anxiety.
"Instead of a peaceful lead-up to the birth, I'm worrying about the facilities being sub-standard."
Better Births Illawarra (BBI) president Giselle Coromandel said the advocacy group remained committed to working with the hospital to come up with solutions to solve women's concerns.
"We're pleased to announce that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District will host a public forum at the hospital on December 17, at 6pm, to better inform women what will, and won't, be available," she said.
"That will keep women informed so they are better able to prepare themselves, or look for alternatives if needed."
Wollongong Hospital Maternity and Women's Health Service Lead Barbara Atkins said the temporary move had involved significant planning and consultation with midwives and doctors as well as consumer groups like BBI.
"There are three private showers in the relocated space for women to use and we do not expect the availability of bathrooms to be an issue," she said.
"The temporary space is a former intensive care unit that has been fully refurbished. It is located on the same level as the current birthing unit, is close to operating theatres, and lifts open directly to the entrance".
Ms Atkins said no other maternity services would be affected by the relocation.
She urged women wanting to see the temporary unit to look at the district's YouTube channel for a walk through the facility.