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Dads and Ante-natal Scans

(79 Posts)
Tom Tue 06-Mar-01 10:50:59

I wondered if I could tap into people's experiences of this one: We are lobbying the DTI to give expectant fathers the right to have time off work to attend ante-natal scans; the 12 week dating one, the 18 week abnormality scan and any subsequent ones (usually only done if an abnormality has been discovered).

We think that these scans are really important for expectant dads - while mum-to-be has been going through 12 weeks of physical changes, the scan is often the first time a dad-to-be really feels the "reality" of the pregnancy and impending parenthood. For me, it was an increadibly powerful experience that really drew me into the preparation for parenthood and supporting my wife. The 18 week scan was amazing, because the foetus looked so much more like a baby. They discovered a problem, and I'm glad I was around to support my wife, who was quite shaken by it. We had a few more to investigate the potential problem, and I'm very glad I was there - they were anxious times. I think we should get the right to have a couple fo hours off to attend these scans - what do others think?

What are other people's experiences - what impact did the scan have on dad-to-be?

Croppy Tue 06-Mar-01 11:18:29

Tom, is it really the case that employers are denying staff the couple of hours off it takes to attend a scan? Maybe I'm naive but these appointments can usually be made at the start of the day meaning someone can just come in a bit later that morning. In my experience it is 100% normal for men to attend these. I only ask really because there is SO much red tape, bureaucracy and legislation for employers to deal with that a backlash to family-freindly policies sadly seems to be gaining momentum.

Sml Tue 06-Mar-01 12:18:13

Totally agree - men should have right to time off work for scans - it's their baby too.

Tom Tue 06-Mar-01 12:25:33

Croppy - the evidence we have is from an NCT survey - a third of men said that they were not able to attend ante-natal appointments because their employers wouldn't allow them time off. This wasn't broken down into scans/non-scans though. I take your point about red tape, but I don't think this would involved any - it doesn't involve any for women who attend ante-natal scans (their right) - as far as I know, they just take the time off and there's no paperwork.

Debsb Tue 06-Mar-01 12:49:52

When I was pregnant with our first child my husband came to the first, 12 week scan. At the scan they found out that the foetus had failed to develop normally, and was only the size of a 3 week embryo, although with full sac & placenta. We both had to go from joyfully expecting to see a picture of our first baby, to accepting the fact that this was not to be. I don't know how I would have coped had my husband not been there, either for myself, or because I would have had to ring him at work & tell him what had happened. We were lucky in that my husband got the time off for all my hospital appointments (most of my regular appointments were at the doctors, & he didn't come to those), but I do know that this is not always the case. It appears to be more of a problem outside the 'professions', where people perhaps have less autonomy over their own work schedules. Anything which will allow these dads the right to participate has my vote.
Oh, we both work in IT so perhaps we have it a lot easier than most, but my sisters husband is a mechanic so I see what he has to put up with.

Tigger Tue 06-Mar-01 12:53:55

I am self-employed and boy aren't I glad I don't have to ask my employer for time off for things like my scan etc. Why are employers so anti-parents?, the attitudes need to be changed, even when it comes to ilness some people feel guilty about taking time off. Why is this, employers cannot expect people to behave like machines. Right I'm off, youngests birthday today, he's 4, I can hear the birthday tea beckoning to be made, cheated mind you and bought a Bob the Builder cake out of Safeways!!!

Emmagee Tue 06-Mar-01 12:54:00

I think what this reminds me is that we the parents often think of a scan purely in terms of getting to see the baby, whilst they have a huge diagnostic role. It's easy not to realise how important they are and Debs your message hit home. Yes, Dads must be alowed time off to come too

Croppy Tue 06-Mar-01 13:17:12

I certainly agree wholeheartedly on the scan issue. But antenatal appointments are every month and this could mean a half day off every month for 8-9 months. It never occurred to me to bring my husband to any as I was only in there for 3 mins each time and it was all very routine. I can understand employers not being too keen on giving the green light to men to attend these sorts of appointments.

In any case, generally for the 12 week scan, the pregnancy has not been publicly announced until this is over. Where I work, most of the men pretend the scan appointment is a doctor's appointment or boiler problems or similar as they don't want to tell their colleagues about the baby until they know everything is ok. I still find it difficult to believe that any employer would deny time off for a scan.

Lil Tue 06-Mar-01 14:06:54

Yes, Croppy I think they don't get the time off because they don't push hard enough.Its the same as what you were saying about how men don't have the bottle to leave work on time, whereas women have(or have to!). Tom, this is probably more about the men themselves, and as Croppy says, legislation isn't always the answer. It's that male mindset you keep talking about.

Bugsy Tue 06-Mar-01 15:55:51

I don't think that employers are trying to be mean about ante-natal appointments with regard to men. I think it is great if Dad's can make it to the scans but they are not really for parents to get involved with their babies, they are actually for checking the health and development of the baby in-utero. Being able to see the baby is obviously a wonderful opportunity but it really is an added bonus. As far as the other appointments are concerned for simple bump measurement, blood tests etc, it does seem slightly unneccesary for Mums & Dads to go. To be really honest if I could have sent my bump on its own for these bits I would have done, as I found them hugely inconvenient (this does not mean I am not grateful that they are being done but I always missed hours out of my working day for an appointment that usually lasted less than 5 mins).
As someone else said, most men who think they may have a reluctant employer and who really want to go, can usually think of someway of being there.

Tom Tue 06-Mar-01 16:02:56

Lil - don't you think that having the right established would set up an 'expectation' that the father should go - thereby changing attitudes?

Bugsy - yes, the scans are for medical reasons, but it's also accepted that they are important for the parents relationship to the pregnancy. This is particularly the case for fathers, because we don't get the physical changes that you have during the early months. I know that for me and countless other men, the scan is the point at which the pregnancy become "really real", and it has a very powerful effect of drawing us into preparing for parenthood. Also, if medical problems are found, wouldn't you rather the men were there?

Lil Tue 06-Mar-01 16:33:51

Tom, with what you've learnt about the process of change etc Do you think that we really have to keep legislating on issues of common sense? isn't there a way of 'educating' instead?

Bugsy Tue 06-Mar-01 16:38:10

Tom, I can think of lots of men (and women, myself included) who went to see the scans but found themselves no more connected with parenthood as a result. I don't think too much emphasis should be put on medical tests, visual or otherwise and a parent's relationship with their unborn child.
I would like my husband to be involved with any pregancy I may have had / will have but I do not think that having legislation allowing him to be at the scan is necessarily the best way.
However, I do not knock your campaign as it raises the profile of parenthood in the UK which is no bad thing.

Kate71 Tue 06-Mar-01 20:22:54

I agree that men must have the right to time off for scans should they wish to go.

My Mum came with me for my first scan as I was too scared to go alone. She cried when she saw 'Little Blob'. My husband took a days holiday to come with me for my second scan. The scan seemed to have little impact on him to be honest, it was once the baby started to kick that he really began to connect with it.

Tigger buying a birthday cake is certainly not cheating. If your baking is like mine it's essentail!

Tigger Wed 07-Mar-01 15:27:26

Kate71, the last one resembled something that should be used as a frisbie!!!, it was a very good cake very tasty and moist, not dry at all, went down very well.

Star Wed 07-Mar-01 18:23:03

Message withdrawn

Hmonty Thu 08-Mar-01 10:59:57

Just to be devils advocate I thought I'd throw a thought in here...I'm definitely in favour of partners being at scans/parentcraft classes/the birth/having paternity leave etc. However, I worry about the small businesses in this country.

With all this legalised leave they could be very stung. I think an informal agreement is better for them as it gives the chance for them to allow the time off if they possible can. After all, in a compamny of, say, 10 people, someone having even an afternoon off could make a great difference to business. Imagine if you happened to have an expectant father and an expectant mother on a payroll of 10 people.

I say this as my husband runs a similar company. They haven't been in this situation yet but would be hard hit if they legally had to give all this time off. Would the time off be paid time? Who would pay it?

(I've put my fire retardant suit on and I'm waiting for the flames as I know this won't be a popular comment).

Tigger Thu 08-Mar-01 11:07:45

Adding to Hmonty's posting, who does pay for the fathers leave at the time of birth, is it the employer or the government?

Croppy Thu 08-Mar-01 11:13:09

Don't worry Hmonty, I at least agree with you. We have to be practical here. Obviously we all want increased flexibility and so on but I personally feel strongly that employers (and particularly small businesses) shouldn't bear the entire burden. As I said earlier, I think giving men the legalised right to attend all ante natal appointments would be plain daft. I can't begin to imagine why my husband would want to take a few hours out of his working day to watch me spend 3 mins handing over a urine sample and being hoisted onto the scales. Surely we should have concrete evidence that men are being prevented from attending scans before we even think about legislation to ensure they are able to attend scan appointments.

On maternity leave and so on, I would rather see more money come by way of encouragement to return to work afterwards and stay a certain length of time. Obviously that has some incentive for both parties. Overall, as a working mother my top priority is to have tax relief on childcare - something which wouldn't cost business a penny and after the impact on the economy is taken to account, would be unlikely to cost the government much either.

Bugsy Thu 08-Mar-01 11:20:10

I think that you make a fair point Hmonty. My Dad runs his own business and he dreads female staff getting pregnant. It is an administrative nightmare for small businesses as they don't usually have a HR resource and he finds trying to get maternity cover very difficult sometimes. He usually has to go through agencies, which can cost him up to 3 times as much as it would to fill the place permanently. He has told me that if he had two equally qualified candidates, and one of them was a newly married woman of child-bearing age he would not pick her. He knows that this is wrong but he says that he has to be practical.
I don't know what the answer is for small businesses.

Hmonty Thu 08-Mar-01 11:52:07

When my husband's company took on a new receptionist last year they choose a 50 something woman as opposed to woman in her 20s who was recently married and had moved back to her home town and away from the bright lights of London. My husband's partner was convinced that she was planning on children (although they obviously couldn't ask this outright). If they'd taken on the younger woman and she'd left on maternity leave the cost to the company would have been substantial.

It is awful to have to think like this and personally I want all the well paid maternity time I can get, and I want my husband to have paid paternity leave. But small companies can really suffer and in the long run this only effects how woman are viewed in the work place.

I'm with Croppy. Tax relief on childcare would help enormously. I have a high paid job at the moment and two children but I'll have to stop working when we have the next one as it just won't be viable. Goodness knows how people on lower salaries cope. Without adequate, affordable childcare a huge chunk of the country's work force are being lost....and I thought Tony wanted to get women back to work! I don't think a little extra on my child allowance is going to help me when I pay £60 a day in childcare. Being on a higher salary I don't qualify for these child tax credits but it still isn't viable to work!

Opps. Think I've started to rant.

Croppy Thu 08-Mar-01 12:06:51

Hmonty, I often wonder how it is viable for ANY woman to work in this country and pay for childcare... I work on a City dealing floor and my earnings are a multiple of the national average. However, as I start at 6.30am, a Nanny is clearly my only option for looking after our son. Her gross salary and the effective double tax means that the first £38,000 I earn goes directly to her. Add transport costs, lunch expenses, the cost of a wardrobe full of suits, the cost of our cleaner and so on and given the stresses and difficulties involved, it is barely worth it. For a woman younger than myself and less well established in her career, it would be utterly pointless.

Hmonty Thu 08-Mar-01 12:30:35

Croppy,
My thoughts exactly. I'm work in IT and am currently on a contract as it was the only way to earn enough to make it worthwhile with two children. I leave the house at 6.10am and get back around 7.30pm as I have a horrendous commute. I'm lucky to see my children during on office days as they go to bed between 7 and 7.30pm. (Luckily I normally manage to work from home a couple of days a week).

Around the first 25k of my salary goes on childcare. Then there's the cost of commuting, lunches etc. These are just the direct costs related to working. On top of that are all the incidentals - like the amount of take aways we have as we're just too tired to bother to cook. And the workmen we're paying to do up our house as we literally don't have the time to do it ourselves. Managing without a cleaner at the moment though...the level of dust the workmen are creating on a daily basis makes it pointless!

I really don't know how other woman afford to work. I'm lucky as my husband runs his own company locally and can be flexible with his working day. This means we've got away with a combination of childcare/nursery which is cheaper. However, it looks like he'll have to change job over the summer and unless we're incredibly lucky that flexibility will go. Then a nanny will be the only option and the financial viability is reduced again!

I strongly believe that our childminder has more disposible income than we do!

Obviously this way of life is my choice but if the government want women to work, including the higher paid, they're going to have to do better than raising the amount of child benefit a few pounds. Come baby 3 I'm outta here!

Hmonty Thu 08-Mar-01 12:42:09

Sorry Tom, I've completely ranted my way off the subject. I actually think it's very important for the other halves to be at the scans if this can be arranged. I recently had a 12 weeks scan and found out that I'd lost the baby. I went to pieces and would have been lost if my husband hadn't been with me. However I don't think legislating is the way forward. I think education and tolerance from employers is needed. Also flexibility of the part of the father. Surely very few companies would stop a father attending if he was willing to take holiday time/unpaid leave/make up the time later etc. Are there any stats on this??

Tom Thu 08-Mar-01 12:53:12

Hmonty - the DTI says that a company of 10 or less employees experiences a pregnancy about once in 10 years - I think having time off for Christmas dinner would probably be more damaging! It is a shame that companies discriminate against young (potential mothers) women - not sure what we can do about this - could increase leave for fathers to eliminate discrimination in favour of men, but would businesses just discriminate in favour of older people then (could be no bad thing!?)

Tigger - re: mens' time off after the birth - at present there is no statutory right to paternity leave, so any schemes are put in place by the employer. However, after yesterday's confirmation by Gordon Brown that we'll get 2 weeks paid paternity leave, the State will pay 2 weeks SMP equivalent (it will be £100 per week). I'm advising the government at the moment about this and it looks like the employer will pay, and then claim back the money from the Inland Revenue.

Croppy - I'm not too bothered about routine ante-natal appointments - I attended all of them with my wife, but it wasn't really necessary. I do, however, think the scans are important and appointments with consultants if an abnormality has been found - we went through this and it was vital that I was there. Couldn't agree with you more on childcare!

One other thought - isn't the solution to all the stress a combination of tackling high child care costs (through tax relief etc) AND reducing working hours/increasing flexibility? Part of the problem here seems to be to do with the enormous hours we work in the UK (the highest in europe).

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