People Are Debating Whether Dads Should Be Allowed to Stay Overnight in Maternity Wards


New mom and dad in delivery room

During the delivery process, there are many powerful moms who do all the work of giving birth while dads hang back and wait for baby to come. But what if your husband wants to be supportive but can't because your hospital requires that fathers leave after their baby has been born -- even if mom needs to spend a few days longer in the maternity ward? Well one woman is pushing back against this practice and has sparked a huge debate online on whether dads should be allowed to stay in the maternity ward so that they can bond with the baby, too.

  • One woman called out her local hospital that forces dads to leave the maternity ward and is slamming how unfair the policy is to both partners and new moms. 

    Bonding with the baby after birth is not just for mom, Annie Ridout argued in her viral tweet. She believes it's important for both parents to get quality time with their new little baby, while also giving mom some much-needed postpartum support. Which is why this mom from the UK is pushing back against this archaic ban. 

    "I think this is outrageous -- unfair on the mother; unfair on the father, who's being made to feel unimportant," Ridout wrote. "He needs to bond too."

    Although her husband was allowed to stay with her overnight after the birth of her first two babies, Ridout shared how ridiculous her local hospital is now and people are getting heated.

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  • But some people were all for dads getting the boot after visiting hours are over. 

    "It sounds like a good thing, but after I had someone’s threatening partner staying next to me whilst bedbound, I changed my mind," one person responded via tweet. "You want your own partner there, but I really didn’t want anyone else’s..."

    She later added that to her a maternity ward is a women-only space. "I now think that maternity wards -- where women are in their most vulnerable state & there are newborn babies -- should be safe, female spaces. I’m not a fearful person at all, but I’ll not forget that experience."

    And one woman wrote that her husband actually made her stay less comfortable. "Totally understand but I have a bit of a different perspective," she wrote. "We preferred him to stay at home and then come back refreshed the following day. Also I wished that partners hadn't have been allowed to stay as I got so little sleep due to the loudest snoring husband in my ward."

    "It's a really contentious issue -- the arguments against it are a) too many people on a ward makes life harder and b) it's a very vulnerable time and for a woman sleeping on a ward to be sharing space with a man is a big ask," another person added.

  • But others argued that letting dad stay is crucial for a new mom.

    "I'm so pleased to say my local hospital does [allow dads overnight] which I was so, so, grateful for," one mom shared. "I desperately needed and wanted my husband with me. He also did first nappy and clothes change and was there the whole time. It's ludicrous that a hospital wouldn't allow that!"

    And another woman agreed, saying it was weird when her husband had to leave. "My husband was sent home, I had our first at a little birthing center and she was born at 7pm," she wrote. "We got sorted out, had skin to skin, he got me settled in my room and then had to leave. He says it was the oddest night of his life going from euphoria to solitude!"

    "I’m 100 percent with you," a third person added. "My partner was with me for my first and I very much intend for him to be there with my second (permission or not). It’s not about being weak, it's not about bonding it’s that it’s an incredible experience. There is NOTHING like sharing new life."

    Ridout later added that she wasn't arguing that dads deserve the penthouse suite  -- just that they should be able to hang out and help the mother of their children if they need them.

    "I’m not suggesting plush double beds or even single beds," she wrote in a later tweet. "But that dads can stay through the night, kip on a chair if they want, help the new mother who has just GIVEN BIRTH and feel valued as that new baby’s parent."

  • But after the online debate, Ridout thought one user's suggestion that they have both a partner ward and a no-partner ward was a perfect solution.

    Although most hospitals don't have this ban in the US, the problem of whether men should be allowed in the maternity ward overnight is still an issue here, too. For some hospitals, like New York University's Langone Hospital, rooms can accommodate up to two people after baby is born, while others can't.

    But it's important to remember that it wasn't too long ago that men weren't allowed in the delivery room at all. In fact, National Public Radio reported that men were first allowed in the delivery room in the 1960s and those numbers increased as more fathers pushed to be there throughout the '70s and the '80s.

    "I'm certainly not a medical professional or anything like that," Cole Cooney told NPR as an explanation for why he wants to be in the delivery room for his wife's 2017 birth. "But I know my wife a lot better than any of the people at the hospital. And so being able to advocate for her is really important."