Men on Maternity Wards

Alexandra's blissfully unaware daddy's gone home and mommy's in charge!

Alexandra’s blissfully unaware daddy’s gone home and mommy’s in charge!

I’m on a parenting forum (not THAT one!) and very often interesting discussions come up about all sorts of topics relating to babies, parenting and more. A few weeks back (I write down ideas for posts and then tend to sit down and pen a couple in one go so as a result I’m sometimes massively behind the times!) there was one which got me thinking hence deciding to write a post on it.

They were talking about the rights and wrongs of having male partners staying overnight on a maternity ward. Personally my experience is the two nights after I had Alexandra I was in a four-bed bay and Dylan had to go home overnight. Once I became unwell, I was moved into a private room and we were then given a camp bed for him to sleep on and he stayed every night until our discharge 12 days after Alex was born, even on the nights we were moved back up to the labour ward.
Personally I couldn’t have coped without him at that point, especially as I was becoming so unwell it was often up to him to do the lion’s share of the childcare. If he hadn’t been there I would have needed much more input from the midwives and healthcare assistants who were already speaking a disproportionate amount of their time with me due to the extra needs I had compared to most women they see.
I completely get that it’s not practical to always allow men to stay on the wards, especially when their partners are on a ward rather than in a side room. After all, the other women might want their privacy after having given birth themselves. But from a mental health point of view (and a physical one too where it’s been a traumatic birth) I think there’s a real argument for men being there.
It’s one thing a woman who’s had a straightforward birth and is likely to be out after a day spending that one night on her own with the baby (although to be honest even the thought of that while I was pregnant scared the hell out of me) but quite another if they’ve had a section or something go wrong or they or the baby are unwell. Having a partner there to support you, get up and see to the baby or even just to calm you when you’re worrying about something in the middle of the night is pretty essential in my books.
Of course in an ideal world we’d all be back at home super quick and have that early time to bond as a family, but we all know it doesn’t work like that! Also in an ideal world they’d be enough midwives to go round and all the rooms would be private rather than shared bays. But now I’m really getting into the realms of fantasy!
Harriet and Alexandra X

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