In the news at the moment is the discussion on fathers rights during post-maternity care. Research has been conducted by the Royal College of Midwives and the Department of Health and has found that fathers can feel pushed out and isolated after their partner has given birth. Specifically the idea has been raised that fathers should be allowed to stay the night in hospital with their partner and newborn, rather than being turfed out when visiting hours come to an end.

90% of fathers choose to be present during the birth of their child, but many would like to stay with their newest addition for more than just a few hours (depending on the time of birth) before going home to a potentially empty house, wondering how their partner and baby are getting on without them.

Here we discuss the pros and cons of fathers being allowed to stay on maternity wards during the night:

Pros:

  • Fathers can feel ‘part’ of the newborn experience – it’s a lot easier to bond with the new baby you’ve been excited about seeing, when you’re in the same building as him or her.
  • Fathers can help mum out. Mums have just been through the most physically demanding job of their lives, they might well have been in labour for over a day and not been able to sleep for a couple of nights. To then expect these poor ladies to stay up all night changing nappies and rocking their baby back to sleep can seem like madness to some. If dads are there too, then at least Mum can have a rest
  • Fathers can help midwives out too. Rather than a mum pressing the call button because she’s dropped a muslin cloth on the floor and her stitches hurt too much to pick it up, she can just simply ask her partner to pick it up for her. Having dads on the ward, would really relieve the strain for simple jobs that midwives are involved in.
  • Spacewise, there is already usually a chair next to each bed. If there’s space for a chair, then there’s space to swap this for a reclining chair, or to put down a camp style bed on the floor.

Cons:

  • Labour is tiring for dads too. Ok, most women might feel quite violent at this admission, but honestly the chances are that the men have also been awake for 30-40 hours non-stop and also need a rest. It may seem unfair, but if one of you goes home and has a good night’s sleep away from a ward full of screaming babies, then he’ll be of much more use to the whole family tomorrow when he’s rested.
  • Other ladies on the ward may feel quite uncomfortable at having extra males present on the ward during the night. With only drawn curtains for privacy and all conversations being quite audible, it may be an unpleasant idea that several men can hear discussions with midwives about breast-feeding, stitches and the like.

In general though, we believe that it’s high time that fathers are given the opportunity to stay the night in hospital with mothers and their newborns if they wish to. After all, they’ve waited 9 months to get their hands on the little one, so don’t deny them the right to spend time with their new son or daughter. It makes no sense at all to split a family up on it’s first night together.

Please feel free to comment below if you have any opinions or experiences that you wish to share.

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