When we give birth it's without a doubt one of the most memorable moments of our lives. I know not everyone has it easy and there's a lot of Mums' out there with some stories that they'd rather forget, but for the most part if you ask a parent the best day of their life they're going to tell you the day their child was born. I say parents because I don't think that those magical moments differentiate between Mum and Dad, or anyone else that's in the room when their loved one gives birth, I think those minutes and hours change everyone involved incomprehensibly and if we could remove the little problem of pain - I'm sure we'd all relive it over and over again. But unfortunately for some of us, myself included, it's a time lottery on whether or not you can bask in that joy with your partner in the hours after giving birth, thanks to quite honestly outdated rules on partners remaining in hospital outside 'visiting hours'.

I can't speak for all NHS hospitals, but I know at my local one and the place I had both boys, 'partner visiting hours' where from 10am-8pm, which at first glance looks great especially if you land back on the maternity ward at 10am after giving birth, you get a whole ten hours with your partner to help you get back on to your feet. But then there's the contrary, whereby if you give birth in the evening or late afternoon, chances are by the time you get onto the ward again it's time to wave goodbye to any emotional or physical support. Now I know, I know, what a fantastic job midwives do, personally I didn't have the best experiences though I can acknowledge that's rare and most midwives are pretty damn fantastic so they will help you as much as you need. But I think I can speak for most people in saying that we as mothers feel way more comfortable relying on our partners to help us rather than a midwife, maybe it's a British thing around being too polite to ask for help, but I'd have no worries asking John to soothe our newborn because I am physically exhausted as opposed to how awkward I'd feel asking a professional for some help. You almost feel in those first days as though you should know what to do, when in actual fact it's the most overwhelming experience in life.

For me the rules around partners in maternity wards is outdated, we live in a society now where men can share maternity/paternity leave, more fathers stay at home while the mother goes out to work than ever before, and in general dads are just that bit more involved - and rightly so, John has always been incredibly hands on and we wouldn't have it any other way. We're not in the sixties anymore when rearing the children was deemed the mothers job, yet it seems visiting times on our maternity wards aren't quite reflecting this change.

Now I know there may be a thousand 'other' reasons why; to allow for privacy, for noise reasons, less disruptions etc. But anyone that has stepped foot in a maternity ward knows just how little of all those there is already, between getting monitored, a variety of doctors and nurses coming to 'chat', hearing tests, medication etc there really isn't going to be much of an impact with a partner slumped in the chair for a few hours dozing. Maternity wards are never going to be peaceful, and if the NHS really wanted less disruption they should probably begin with banishing bounty representatives who are quite honestly the most invasive women I have come across. (That's another story for another day) Men truly don't need to be accommodated for either, of course it would be lovely if they had somewhere to rest but I know it's the NHS and the last thing I think funds should be spent on is my baby daddy having a bed to sleep in after I just pushed out almost 10lb of baby. If any other men are like John then they verge on narcolepsy anyway and would fall asleep on a washing line if they got the chance, so sleeping in a hospital chair for a few hours really isn't going to be too much of a challenge. Plus, a large reasoning for them to stay is so they can help, so sleeping wouldn't really be a big focus.

I was very lucky with both my boys, after having Patrick we were just into visiting time so John was able to stay, and with Noah I kicked up that much of a fuss that we were given our own room and they allowed him to stop 'as long as you're quiet' and thankfully so because as a brand new mum at 21 it was daunting. I had two vaginal and relatively uncomplicated births if we disregard a forth degree tear, and I needed the help, so I can't imagine how mothers who go through so much more and even have complex surgery to deliver, are just left alone with a baby whilst they're still numb from the waist down. It truly baffles me that this is the logic we have today. If someone had major stomach surgery, you would bring their babies in and give them to look after as soon as they're out of theatre, hell no, they'd be at home being cared for by someone else. Yet here we are leaving women to fly solo just hours after giving birth.

1 comment

  1. I'm 100% with you on this. I had to leave hospital a couple of hours after my oldest child was born as it was in the middle of the night and I was considered to be nothing more than a visitor. Similarly, with my youngest, I had to leave at the end of visiting hours despite the fact my wife had just had an emergency C-section. Yes, hospitals are overstretched but I think allowing partners to stay could only be of benefit - especially if they make room by banning Bounty reps.