New campaign to allow partners to stay on maternity wards.

(283 Posts)

MN have started a thread about possibly supporting a new campaign to allow partners to stay overnight on maternity wards.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/mumsnet_campaigns/a2129215-What-do-you-think-about-spouses-partners-staying-overnight-on-postnatal-wards?msgid=48200610#48200610

I feel very uncomfortable about this for lots of practical reasons, but also partly because it feels like another safe space for women being sacrificed for the convenience of men. However, I'm aware that I may be underplaying women's right to have whatever support they want.
Is this a feminist issue and how are the rights of one group of women (to feel safe) balanced against another group of women (to have the support they want)?

almondcakes Thu 10-Jul-14 14:04:57

It is a terrible idea for all the reasons people have given on the other thread.

As someone pointed out on there, no other groups of adults would be expected to put up with it.

AuntieStella Thu 10-Jul-14 14:06:46

I'velooked at the MN thread you linked.

The weight of opinion is very heavily against overnight visitors (of both sexes) in postnatal wards.

What wanted is better postnatal care in wards with more staff (and/or trained peer supporters) and better laid out wards.

Change to visiting rules is easy/cheap, and diverts attention from the need for more thought, planning and (when possible) resources.

expatinscotland Thu 10-Jul-14 14:09:14

I am not interested in such a campaign. I would rather see ,itch better postnatal care than spend the night in a room full of strange men right after I have given birth. Horrible infection control, too.

I suppose I'm wondering if this is a purely argument on a purely practical basis, or if there is a feminist dimension as well which should be considered.

almondcakes Thu 10-Jul-14 14:26:07

The feminist dimension is that just because someone has a female body and has just given birth, that doesn't mean they are entitled to less privacy than any other patient.

LurcioAgain Thu 10-Jul-14 14:27:56

This is what I've just posted on the other thread:

No. I'm sure most of these reasons have been covered upthread but:

1) Privacy - I don't want strange men around the place while I'm waddling around in my nightclothes or desperately trying to establish a decent latch with a newborn, or trying to pump.

2) Threat of violence - a significant number of women have the horrible experience of having violent partners. I want both me and them to be protected from having such men in the vicinity overnight on a post-natal ward.

3) Cost - the NHS is stretched to breaking point already. This wouldn't be zero cost. I'd rather the money was spent on more midwives.

I'd just add here that I hate the way the language of human rights is co-opted into this sort of issue. Nice for some proportion of women giving birth? Sure, I'll buy that (though I'm not one of them). A human right? Up there with the right to life, to be free from violence, to clean water, sanitation, food, freedom of speech, the right to vote? Err, no, I don't think so. It trivialises the notion of "human rights" IMO.

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:33:50

It's also tied into the idea of women's spaces.

You can't get more of a woman's space than a post natal ward.

Interesting that most people instinctively see the value of it even if not framed in explicitly feminist terms.

whatdoesittake48 Thu 10-Jul-14 14:36:02

When I gave birth - I insisted my husband stayed with me and he insisted too. I had asked to leave, but they wouldn't let me until the following morning and I didn't want to be in a strange place, with a new baby, without his support.

This was 15 years ago and it seems very wrong that something hasn't been done to allow women the right to choose who they have stay with them when they are in a vulnerable state.

I needed my husband and i was not going to accept that they wanted to send him away. It would have completely undermined his role as a father and it is this policy which sets us women up as the sole carer in a child's life and the father as a sidelined "other". it isn't helpful for children, for child rearing or for for us as mothers.

I think the real feminist issue is the fact that men need to be a part of the birthing and rearing process from the very start. They need to recognise their role as carer and support and have a hands on role from the moment of birth. not sent home to spend the night alone and worried about the woman they love and their child.

I recognise that this seems as tho it is taking the father's wishes over that of other women, but if this was seen as the norm, it may percolate down to other places where men think something is a woman's only arena (many parts of child rearing - doctors visits, school trips etc).

Believe me, I am very much a feminist - but men are all too often sidelined when it comes to child birth and that is to the detriment of women. I believe that we would not accept it if it were the other way around.

Imagine if our child was handed over to our partner just after birth and we were told he would take it home for the night while we "get some rest"...parents should not be enforceably separated from their children - ever. When my child had an operation, we were encouraged to stay with her the whole time. Why is it different just after birth?

I worry that the issue of safety paints all men as perpetrators - perhaps this issue could be better dealt with by providing single rooms or security.

it is certainly about choice - women could make the decision about this in advance and then be offered either a "family" ward or a mother only ward.

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:39:42

I would have been raging with you whatdoesittake if I had been on the ward with you.
Surely you can see why.

FairPhyllis Thu 10-Jul-14 14:41:40

It's a feminist issue because only women give birth and need to stay on post-natal wards - hence this proposal only affects women wrt standards of care/privacy/safety/dignity as inpatients.

No other hospital specialty would be pressured to reintroduce mixed-sex wards or have patients' partners stay overnight - only the one which deals specifically with women is.

Imagine if a patient on a male post-surgical ward was told they would have to put up with large numbers of non-patient strangers on the ward at night, wandering around, staring, making noise, going in and out, taking up the nurses' time, using the bathrooms, disturbing people by using phones or computers ... I don't think they'd be very happy.

LurcioAgain Thu 10-Jul-14 14:41:45

But this is one of those issues where "choice" is being bandied around yet again as if it automatically places a feminist stamp of approval on an action, and as if that is all there is to be said on the matter. I'm sure your DH is lovely, What, but I only have your word for it, and something like 1 woman in 4 is subject to domestic violence. I do not want the men carrying out that violence around me just after I've given birth. And for those of you of a liberal persuasion, may I remind you of John Stuart Mill's rather nice distinction between negative and positive liberties? Someone else has the right to ask for the moon on a stick until it conflicts with my right not to have the moon on a stick in my vicinity - and where there's a conflict of interest, the decision should come down on the side of those uncomfortable with a situation where complete strangers of the opposite sex are going to be placed into their space in the middle of the night.

7Days - I think you've identified my discomfort. There was a very interesting thread recently about space, how men fill space and take possession of the space around them while women tend to make do with less space. I think this campaign reminded me of that debate. About women on busy wards being asked to cede what little space (physical and emotional) there is to men.

almondcakes Thu 10-Jul-14 14:42:02

The mother would not get sent home away from the child because the mother is the patient.

Men are sidelined when it comes to childbirth because they don't give birth.

They literally are on the sidelines.

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:50:33

There is of course a case to be made for getting fathers more involved in childcare etc. But that can just as easily be achieved without encroaching on womens' dignity, privacy and safety when they are at their most vulnerable.

MrsCakes Yes you've articulated just what i was driving at

quertber Thu 10-Jul-14 14:55:50

Is the OP seriously suggesting men on a maternity ward are going to become dangerous?

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:56:08

It would of course be lovely for the new dad to stay with his newborn too.
I am in favour of happy dads!

But the numbers are this, in a 6 bed ward, going by the frequent comments on the other thread of 'Yes to my DP, No to yours'
6 happy dads
1 happy mum (per happy dad)
5 unhappy mums

So not worth it, imo

JennyOnTheBlocks Thu 10-Jul-14 14:57:23

Smells too much of 'what about the menz' for my liking

As mentioned up thread, after a birth, unless the baby needs medical intervention and is then in SCBU, then admission to a ward is for the woman's benefit. the baby is there because it's better to have them together wherever possible.
A man does not need to stay with them, he has no purpose on a maternity Ward.

quertber Thu 10-Jul-14 14:57:53

"how men fill space and take possession of the space around them while women tend to make do with less space"

Utter nonsense. Haven't you noticed how girls-only clubs are allowed yet boys-only clubs are branded "sexist" and forced to allow girls in?

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:58:05

Some will quertber some do on public transport, some do at football matches, some do at home. I'm sure those guys become fathers too.

I'd rather not need security guards on the post natal ward just in case one of them turns up.

I'd rather spend the money on another HCA

7Days Thu 10-Jul-14 14:59:11

Oh. You're one of them. Won't be engaging any more

Where have I said anything about men being dangerous? On maternity wards or anywhere else.

PetulaGordino Thu 10-Jul-14 15:00:58

i don't really feel qualified to comment on this as i haven't given birth (though chances are i will in future so i have a vested interest)

but a definite no from me, for all the reasons articulated here and on the other thread. it's coming at the problem from completely teh wrong angle. sort out the care problem

PetulaGordino Thu 10-Jul-14 15:01:38

quertber has an Agenda. see recent posts passim

quertber Thu 10-Jul-14 15:05:55

"Oh. You're one of them. Won't be engaging any more"

Must be a sad life if you hate and refuse to engage with approx half the population.

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