Should Men Be Allowed To Stay Overnight In Maternity Wards ?

The National Health Service in the UK recently announced a new policy according to which fathers can stay overnight in the maternity ward. However, the decision has received mixed reactions from mothers and obstetrician.

Towards the end of pregnancy, the fathers are in a state of uncertainty and fear. They have minimal involvement during birth, which could primarily be supporting the mother through labor and birth. However, after the baby is born, both parents need to be present postnatally to obtain the knowledge and skills of taking care of the baby.

Such was mentioned in a report published by the Royal College of Midwives, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Fatherhood Institute in 2011.1 The Royal United Hospital in Bath came out with a scheme to let fathers stay overnight in the ward—the scheme proved to be successful in supporting and helping women who were birthing late night or in early morning hours.

Dr. Irene Gafson, who is an obstetrician and

Advertisements
gynecologist, asked 96 random mothers after their delivery whether they wanted their partners to stay for longer hours. The answers were affirmative in most cases—a majority of mothers wanted their partners to stay with them for a longer time and supported the decision of letting them stay overnight.

However, few women criticised the idea to allow men to stay in the maternity ward overnight or for prolonged hours. Many women say that they feel vulnerable in the presence of other men and get gravely worried about their baby’s safety. Mothers mentioned that they were at sheer unease due to a plethora of reasons that threatened their dignity and privacy.

One woman mentions that the curtains between the two beds were then with gaps between them. It made her uncomfortable to find a man sitting on the other side of curtains even when he was next to his own partner. The mothers feel more fearful if they have undergone a c-section and are unable to move or pick up the baby.

There is a violation of their privacy when they have to go to the

Advertisements
bathroom or the nurse comes to change the catheter—unfortunately, a layer of curtain offers minimal privacy. Women complain that they have to move across the room to the washroom may be stained in blood or are breastfeeding their baby. Due to the presence of a man, they don’t feel free and have to think twice.

Sometimes, the other fathers are in a conversation or on phone, which can be disturbing and prevent the mother from getting some rest at night.

However, Dr. Gafson says that mothers could be provided with a personal room for their privacy and comfort. However, the hospital won’t be able to design a maternity ward at such a scale to accommodate all mothers. To keep specific timings for fathers to be present in the ward would mean being unfair to those mothers who deliver babies at night or early morning. The fathers would miss out on the first few moments with his newborn. Even the mothers feel isolated when they want their partners to be beside them in the couple’s most joyous moments.

The fathers would miss out on the first

Advertisements
few moments to bond with their newborns. Even the mothers feel isolated when they want their partners to be beside them in the couple’s most joyous moments.

Some moms, however, think differently about it and feel that husbands should be sent home to take rest unless it is medically necessary for them to stay. They could turn up next day leaving the mothers with much-needed privacy and some sleep. Social psychologist Dr. Elle Boag, Birmingham City University says that after the birth, the families need some time and space to bond and that should be respected. H

Social psychologist Dr. Elle Boag, Birmingham City University says that after the birth, the families need some time and space to bond and that should be respected. However, a mother should be given her domain, and in the vicinity of other men, she might sense it as an invasion. It may also trigger women to discharge themselves against the advised time and find a better hospital to birth the next time.

The question of letting fathers stay in the maternity ward for prolonged duration still lingers with

Advertisements
equally reasonable approvals and disapprovals. What is right in your opinion?

References[+]