What follows is my response to an article on the Netmums website that was posted this morning. It deals with the question (raised by Labour MP, Jon Cruddas) of men staying overnight in maternity wards.
I propose a compromise – let hospitals provide a choice: We could have female only wards and another where dads can stay overnight. After all, mixed wards are not unknown in the UK.
Priya was born 16 years ago now. During the pregnancy I attended every ante-natal class open to me. I took time off work when we had visits from the midwife and I was there continually during what proved to be a long and traumatic labour. When Priya was finally handed to me, like every other man who can talk honestly about the subject, I can say that my world view changed in an instant. The immediate and forceful love that I felt for this new born infant was overwhelming. Love lunged at me.
Driving home on my own three hours later was just, wrong. My wife was still struggling after the labour and could have done with someone at her side. And I felt strongly that I also wanted to be with and hold my daughter.
I would have welcomed the opportunity to stay the night. I would not have slept (and snored!). I would have been a husband and a father doing his duty willingly at the most important moment of my life.
I would just add that when Anya was born three years later, things were different. Staying overnight would not have been necessary. I had a home to run, Priya to look after, and the labour was that much easier.
Cruddas is right to raise this subject. Giving parents options seems a very sensible way forward and we should be grateful to him for speaking out. Allowing Dads to take a full and active part in the whole of their children’s life is central to the OnlyDads ethos.
This is just one (important) example of an area of life where things could be done better.
Thanks for reading. Bob.
And if you get a chance, do check out the pioneering work of Dean and Daddy Natal.