Sparkles & Stretchmarks: A UK Parenting & Pregnancy Blog: Thursdays Thing I Hate: Banning Men From Maternity Wards

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Thursdays Thing I Hate: Banning Men From Maternity Wards

Whenever I think back on my birth experience, my thoughts are mostly very positive.

As a very anxious person by nature, I had spent pretty much my entire pregnancy worrying about the birth and how I would handle it - and so the way it went was actually a very pleasant surprise. 

I was very well looked after by the hospital staff both before and after the birth, and there was very little cause for complaint during my 2 day stay there.

However, there was one rule in place which puzzled me - and which continues to puzzle me to this day.

The banning of men on Maternity wards.


At Liverpool Womens Hospital where I had my baby, and it seems at the vast majority of hospitals across the UK, men are not permitted to be on the maternity wards beyond the visiting hours allocated.

At my hospital in particular, there were set visiting hours for partners which were from 10 am - 7.30 pm.

Yes this is 9 and a half hours worth of visiting time, which some might consider ample. 

But in my opinion there should be no limitation on this.

I'm not saying that partners should be allowed to have beds on wards, or that they should be given any food or drink - there should be no cost involved in this at all. But why should a man be sent home from the side of his partner and child at the say so of the NHS? Why does he have less right to be there for the first few precious hours of his childs life because he didn't have the option of giving birth to it?

I personally, as I have already stated, am quite an anxious person by nature - I don't like going anywhere on my own and so the thought of being left alone in a strange environment was a lot for me to deal with.

I gave birth to my son via c section - so add to my usual anxiety the fact that I just undergone major surgery and was trying to care for a brand new baby for the first time in my life, its safe to say I was a bit of a nervous wreck!

I was so worried about being alone that I considered paying for a private room at the hospital, as I had been informed by staff that if the private rooms used for non-complicated natural deliveries were available - it was an option to pay a fee of £100 for my partner to be allowed to stay with me in one of them for the night.

However, we decided in the end that the £100 would be far better spent on much needed baby things and so at the end of the visiting hours, my partner left and I faced my first night alone.

I still had my catheter in, and although the feeling had returned to my legs I was obviously not yet allowed to stand up.

This first presented a problem when my baby needed feeding for the first time that night - he was in his little cot next to me, but the height of my bed and the style of his cot (non-dropside) meant that in my current semi-paralysed position I was unable to pick him up out of the cot.

Tyne in his very awkward non-dropside cot

For the first few hours I had to repeatedly press my buzzer to ask a midwife to pass me the baby, which made me feel like a nuisance and probably annoyed the midwife who I'm sure had far more important things to be getting on with.

After my catheter was eventually removed, I was then told to try and walk around - of course it was now the middle of the night and I was terrified at taking my first steps to the bathroom alone, but with my partner not there - I had no option.

Unfortunately I experienced a massive blood loss - there was a bit of concern among the staff and I was told to keep an eye on my clots and my loss as they may need to take me back to surgery if things didn't improve - to someone of my anxious nature, this was an absolute nightmare to hear and the fact that I was there alone only made me feel much much more anxious.

Thankfully things did calm down and no further action was needed.

Given the long day I'd had and the stress of the operation and the blood loss, I would have loved the chance to get some sleep - but between trying to care for my own baby (which meant having to get out of bed and hobble around to the cot to pick him up and put him back because it was impossible to lift him in and out from my bed - each pained step took at least 30 seconds so this was no mean feat!) - and having to put up with the cries of the other newborns on the ward and the constant buzzers going off in the nurses station which were VERY loud, I got no sleep at all.


Seeing my partner eventually walk through the door at 10 am the next morning was the biggest relief I have felt - and once he was there to look after the baby and pass me things I needed, I was finally able to snatch a bit of sleep in between the constant interruptions from various people wanting to check on various things.

Again, that night, my partner was sent on his way at 7.30 pm - and again I faced another night of no sleep, and no rest. 

Considering how much it is drummed into you following a c section that you should rest as much as possible,  it's a bit of a joke that you're left to fend for yourself with no support whatsoever until you're eventually allowed to go home.

I don't think it's only women who have gone through c sections who would appreciate having the support of their partner either - natural birth comes with its own set of problems directly afterwards, and I'm sure the pain can be just as difficult to deal with on your own.

I was told by staff that the reason men are banned from the wards after a certain time is for the privacy of other women on the ward - I'm sorry but this just doesn't make any sense to me.

Every bed comes with curtains that go right around it - on my ward, everybody had their curtains drawn most of the time anyway - if you want privacy, its easily achieved!
And yes, when you're walking to and from the bathroom in your nightie it can be a bit embarrassing - but that is the case all day long, during all visiting hours - what difference does it make whether men are only there during certain hours?! Women on these wards are undressed ALL day, not just at night!

Plus I don't really understand why men are banned after a certain time for the sake of respecting the privacy of the women on the ward, yet the only midwife on duty on my first night after giving birth was a man - so I had no option about him removing my catheter and administering a pessary - I realise this is a different matter but that midwife was still a man on the ward, and one who was seeing FAR more of my nether-regions than any visiting partners would have done!

And yes - there could be security issues, but that is the case with ANY visitor and even the patients themselves.

I have even heard stories of women in labour having to go through the first stages alone because they were unfortunate enough to go into labour at night, and so there partners were sent home until things progressed enough - I think this is truly disgusting, forcing a woman to go through something like that with only perfect strangers for company?!

I know that I personally could NOT have got through that without having a panic attack.
No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot come up with a valid reason why men shouldn't be allowed to stay with their partners on maternity wards whenever it suits them.

As long as they are staying within the confines of their partners own bed area and are not causing a disturbance - then what is the problem?!

What are your thoughts on men on maternity wards? As always, I'd love to hear from you!



44 comments:

  1. After the birth of my second baby my partner was given the opportunity to stay over with me in the delivery suite on a sofa bed right next to me and baby (she was born at nearly midnight). However, having a 3 year old son too meant he was anxious to get back to him for the morning to try and maintain some normality. I didn't know that this was uncommon practice, but can say my experience with the NHS was awesome. Maybe I'm bias though as I'm a radiographer at the trust where I had my children;)

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    1. Yeah its VERY uncommon! The only way that was an option for us was to pay the £100 per night charge - and you don't even get a bed for that, its just a chair to sleep on! And even THAT is unusual - most hospitals don't offer it even for a cost.

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  2. Our visiting hours were even less. I think it was 2hours afternoon and 2 hours evening. As soon as I had a shower after the birth I was taken to the maternity unit and hubby had to go home. I was in a ward on my own and at dinner time I was told to go get my dinner from the other end of the maternity unit. My son was asleep so I ended up having to leave him on his own. Rush n get my dinner and rush back. For a new mum this felt awful. Going to the toilet was the same dilemma. As I was a natural birth and in a ward (4 beds) on my own I was just left to myself. I'm glad I could leave as soon as I could because I just wanted to get out of there.

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    1. Wow those visiting hours are awful! :/ It must be horrible to be on a ward alone too - I hated being disturbed by the other mothers and babies, but to be totally alone on a ward would have really creeped me out :/ xx

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  3. I completely agree with you Hayley, I had c-sections for both my babies. Mr Husbans had to leave my bedside by 9pm, which is slightly better, but I needed him with me. Like yourself, that first day post birth Inwas completely unable to do anything myself. I also hated the fact that once I had recovered enough to walk about, a trip to the loo, or even a quick shower outside visiting hours meant I had to leave my newborn alone. For me, not an option!

    I'm not sure what the solution is as I agree it shouldn't have an impact on cost, but surely allowing partners to stay with their new families should be a priority?

    Great post though lovely xx

    Kate
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

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    1. Yes, I don't understand why its not more of a priority for new families to be kept together especially now that there's more of an understanding of how important the first few hours are for bonding - surely it's just as important for the father and child to bond?!

      xxx

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  4. I couldn't have done it without my husband. I was lucky with 6yo and she was born during the day and we were discharged by 7pm so it wasn't an issue for me this time around. However I think the nights are the most lonely and when you need the support, especially if you have a newborn baby, you're shattered after giving birth, can't sleep for the adrenaline, etc.

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  5. I hate this too, I had Sienna at 6pm and by the time I was recovered a bit, showered etc, he had to go home! He said he felt horrible, we spend every night together then the night we have a baby he is home alone and his GF and new baby daughter are in the hospital on their own, it's crazy!! We even had our own room and he wasn't able to stay :( X

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    1. Aww it's so horrible isn't it?! It should be a nice happy family time. And if you have your own room, I REALLY don't see what the issue is?! xx

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  6. Oh my, I guess I'm lucky. My midwife informed me there is open visiting for partners at the hospital I'm due to give birth in. Although they're not allowed to stay over night, I find it a bit more reassuring as I'm not too fond of hospitals.

    http://aniceshark.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. I guess there must be some hours Imposed if they're not allowed to stay over night? maybe they mean they don't send them home during the day?
      xx

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  7. My first birth experience was similar to yours, however the second due to my complications and MS, ben was provided with a little makeshift bed and stayed with me throughout. I needed him so much the first time, and when the came for him to go home, I was petrified. I think they should be allowed to stay and I don't see them harm in letting them kip in a chair!

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    1. Exactly!! I'm glad they at least let him stay with you the second time though xx

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  8. I whole heartily agree, I was induced and had an emergency c-section and like you was reliant upon midwives. Sometimes I would have to wait 20 mins for them to come with Darcie screaming next to me. Would of been nice for Jamie to have stayed the whole night considering the trauma I went through. He didn't sleep at all as I lost so much blood and was very in and out of it when he left so he was very worried! He went to a 24 hour Tesco to buy baby things instead!

    xxx

    www.mummyburgess.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Aww its so horrible isn't it :/ Its hard on you, hard on the baby and hard on the man - it could all be spared by just letting them stay, I don't understand why its so impossible?! xx

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  9. I really agree with you on this. Me and my partner have discussed this many times about when we have children. Like you, I can't go anywhere by myself and suffer from anxiety. I would need him with me! Also, my partner things that by doing this, it's sometimes means that the fathers miss out on precious bonding time! My sil couldn't hold her arms out, let alone hold a baby and bil was sent home before she even got to the ward! xx

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    1. Exactly, with the medical profession being much more understand about bonding time now - I don't understand why fathers aren't given more freedom to stay on the wards?!

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  10. Another in total agreement here! After my labour, and subsequent blood loss, I couldn't get up at all. Simon was sent home at 1am, and, like you, I couldn't get out of bed to get Izzy in and out of her cot for fear of another collapse. It was that way for two days, which was fine when simon was able to be there, but when he went home I had no choice but to risk it as the midwives took ages to respond to the buzzers and newborn babies aren't in the habit of waiting!! It should be unlimited access.

    xx

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    1. Exactly! :/ It needn't be such a struggle and having the fathers staying would surely decrease the midwives workloads significantly?!

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  11. I found it difficult being in hospital with Stacey as I only ever had visitors for an hour a day, and because I couldn't get in and out of bed by myself I had to constantly press the buzzer. I hated it. I had to stay there for almost a week :(

    I was therefore determined not to have to stay in hospital when I had Oscar. I picked a different hospital to give birth in, and I'm so glad I did. I was given my own suite, which had a bed for me, a sofa bed for Nathan, it's own bathroom, numerous seating areas and a lovely, big birthing pool.

    Unfortunately, the only pain relief allowed in the suite was coedine, which I'm allergic to, so by the end of my labour I'd gone for 29 hours without any pain relief at all. I was told I could have an epidural, but I'd have to be switched to a smaller delivery suite and taken onto the main ward afterwards. There wasn't a chance of that happening!

    After I had Oscar, Nathan and I remained in the suite until 1am the next morning, when we were finally allowed home. They did try to persuade me to go up to the ward for the night but I don't like being alone and I think I would have just sobbed! Since Nathan and I moved in together 4 and a half years ago we've only sent one night apart and I hated every second of it. Lol.

    I think dads should be allowed to stay after the birth for at least 24 hours. Let's face it - most people are sent home within that time so it's not causing a massive inconvenience is it?!

    Louise x

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

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    1. Aww I didn't know you had no pain relief with Oscar - did you ever do a birth story?

      I agree, they should definitely be allowed to stay xx

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  12. Although I didn't give birth in hospital, I do believe thay men should be able to stay as long as they like. Who's to say how long they get to spend with their newborn? They should be entitled to as much bonding time as the new mother and be able to offer as much help to the new mummy too! xx

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  13. When we had our youngest little girl, she was born at 5.15pm and even though I was in a room on my own, they made my husband leave at 7pm! We were both disgusted and he was devastated. They also wouldn't let him back onto the ward until 10.30 the next morning! We both feel that he missed such an important time with our newborn little girl.

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  14. Ive been fortunate enough with both my babies that OH could stay with me until we went home after the 6 hour discharge, with Korey (now 4 months) I was only in hospital 40 minutes before having a water birth at 11:59pm. Being in one of the active birth rooms and because the hospital weren't busy we were both able to stay there until we left the next morning after the newborn checks. I couldn't have imagined not having OH there and its terrible that they have to go home, particularly when youve had a c-section. Im pretty sure I've heard something in the news in recent months about putting extra beds on wards so partners can stay but don't think its come to fruition yet. Lets hope it does soon.

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  15. After a very difficult labour, I gave birth at 2am. My partner was allowed to stay with us for half an hour after the birth, he walked us back to the ward and then was told to leave. I suffer from anxiety too and there I was at 3 in the morning scared and alone. They really need to re assess the rules!

    Hele

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  16. I completely agree with you

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  17. I agree, I had so much anxiety about this. I was told it was so that the Husbands/partners could rest and be ready and recharged ready to take care of Mum and Baby when they came home. I was lucky in that the hospital were very understanding and allowed Adam to stay past the visiting hours for Dads.


    Alex
    www.Bump-to-Baby.com
    UK based Lifestyle & Parenting Blog


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  18. I agree completely, I have had 3 day labours with both of my children, leaving me mentally and physically exhausted. When my partner was packed off home after the traumatic birth of my first child, I was pretty much left alone with my newborn, despite being so weak due to blood loss that I could barely lift him. The midwives were so busy and helped when they could, but I felt so alone and scared. I would not mind if other people's partners were there at all, as long as there were separate toilets and bathrooms for the ladies and the husbands/visitors.

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  19. i avoided all the problems that come with hospital stays by having my discharge 6 hours after the birth of 2 of mine i felt so much more relaxed at home

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  20. i had this problem when i had my son, i had my son in belfast royal hospital i was in for a week so it really annoyed me that my partner could only come on visiting hours by time i was getting put unto the ward it was 2am and my partner had no way to get home i had to call my uncle to come and get him. i think its an absurb rule.
    i was lucky with my daughter i wasnt even admitted unto a ward i had her and 4 hours later i was going home

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  21. Oh I so know where you are coming from with this post. I had an emergency c-section and struggled with all the things you mentioned too. Couldn't reach my baby, it was awful. I struggled to clean myself up, there were no showers just bathtubs and it was excruiating to have to climb up into it with stitches. I could have done with my hubby being there outside visiting hours. After a stay of 5 days I was completely frazzled and so tearful!

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  22. I couldn't agree more, after the trauma, and excitement of the birth it broke my heart my husband leaving, as well as being a bit scary x

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  23. Only allowing men between 10 am - 7.30 pm is silly. Most people work during most of this time frame and therefore they may only get 2hrs with thier new baby. I can understand parents, brothers etc not being allowed outside this period by not husbands

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  24. my partner got sent home 10 mins before i had my little girl its soo wrong he nearly missed it!

    tiffany_123_@hotmail.com
    tifffx

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  25. I agree! having a new baby is a special moment that both parents should share together, it must be hard for the men to leave their new baby and be restricted to certain visiting times!

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  26. This feels very relevant to me. When I had my first baby, he was born with breathing problems, and I was so tired and overwhelmed anyway, with this added on top, worrying all night, all I wanted was for my partner to be there with me.
    I was left alone for most part on the ward, and was really struggling, and really did just wish parters were allowed to stay for as long as we needed. Ok not to be talking through the early hours etc, but to just be able to have the choice to come help if need be.

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  27. i had my girl at 10.29pm after being induced at 6am, as i was on labour ward my partner and mother in law was allowed to stay with me till i went back up stairs which was at about 4am the following morning

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  28. i know it was hard for me to leave her at home a week after being discharged when i had to go back into hospital as i was haemorrhaging and that was scary

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  29. I think new parents should be together. I had a home birth.

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  30. when I had my first daughter, the person in the bed next to me ignored the rules and her partner slept in the chair for the entire night which was pretty much right next to my bed the only thing between us was a curtain which I found just awful!

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  31. It's even tougher if you baby is born in the evening and you're moved to the ward quite quickly and then Dad is made to go home :(

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