Opinion: 'Why Dads Should Be Allowed Stay In Maternity Hospitals'

An increasing amount of research suggests a strong link between early father-infant bonds and the happiness of the entire family. 

When people think of labour or giving birth the picture that springs to mind is usually a mother holding the newborn. But, this baby is half mum and dad and believe it or not your birthing partner, which is usually the father, helps throughout labour more than you might think.
Although the mother does all of the physical labouring it is usually the father who is supporting her and getting her through it emotionally.
I held my husband’s hand throughout all of the births and he was a massive part of keeping me mentally well and calm during my labours.

After I gave birth each time and my husband had to go home each night it felt very lonely and left me feeling very vulnerable. I wish he could have stayed with me not only for the help and support with our new-born but also to give them the proper opportunity to bond with each other.
There's a big debate happening about just that on Twitter sparked by a viral tweet posted by Annie Ridout, which stated,

"My local hospital doesn't allow partners to stay on [the] postnatal ward after their baby has been born. I think this is outrageous - unfair on the mother; unfair on the father, who's being made to feel unimportant. He needs to bond too."
When people think about bonding with a newborn, images of a mother and her baby tend to come to mind. While it is essential for mothers and their babies to develop a deep connection, it's also important for fathers to spend quality time bonding with their babies.
An increasing amount of research suggests a strong link between early father-infant bonds and the happiness of the entire family. 
The research has also shown that when dads spend time with their new-borns and begin developing a strong relationship with them from the very beginning, they reap a number of benefits. 
Fathers experience less stress and increased confidence when they have their own special time with their newborns.
Strong father-child bonds can help counter issues such as depression later on in life. Men who report that they had a good relationship with their fathers during childhood were found to be better equipped to handle stress.
Children who experienced close interactions with their fathers from an early age tend to be more successful academically, have better relationships with their peers and be less likely to get involved with crime or abuse drugs and alcohol.
A child’s physical and mental development is significantly boosted when their dad has played with them from the start, compared to children whose fathers took a more hands-off approach.
These important findings should be communicated to parents — especially to dads who may feel that their level of involvement with their new-borns doesn’t matter all that much.  
Why Is Skin To Skin So Important?
Skin to skin time is often suggested as an optimal activity to give your baby a better start. However, research shows that we shouldn’t look at skin to skin as something to do to boost our baby’s start but rather look at it as the biological norm that it is. Because skin to skin between mother and baby immediately after birth is the biological norm, we now know that interrupting immediate skin to skin actually has risks.

Why Dads Should Do Skin To Skin Too:
Research shows that just 30 minutes of skin to skin with dad actually rewires dad’s brain. Mothers have the advantage of the natural hormonal changes during and immediately following birth, especially the hormone oxytocin, to help their maternal instincts kick in. For dad, time spent with and caring for Baby helps the bonding process.

When dad spends time skin to skin with his new-born hormonal changes occur including a rise in dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for many things including pleasure. A rise in dopamine plus the release of oxytocin means dad’s brain creates a positive association with close interaction with Baby.
Why Is This Important?
Certainly, many dads have gone without skin to skin contact and been excellent, hands-on parents. It isn’t something that if skipped will mean a poor parental bond. However, it does seem that research shows this natural rewiring can be an important part of early parenting. Perhaps it’s something to do with a biological positive association with baby.
When it’s 2 am and baby is crying…again…that positive association could mean coping just a bit better. When Baby is fussing with her mama, it could mean stepping in without request to offer a hand. It might mean being just a bit more confident in being more hands on.

Whatever the benefits I strongly agree that fathers should be allowed to stay in maternity hospitals, for their chance to bond with their new-born. But also hugely for emotional support for the mum too.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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