Should new dads stay overnight with their bubs?

Mullumbimby parents Rohini Drury and Kim O'Sullivan with their nine-week-old son, Alfie, at the Byron Central Hospital Birthing Suite.
Mullumbimby parents Rohini Drury and Kim O'Sullivan with their nine-week-old son, Alfie, at the Byron Central Hospital Birthing Suite. Cathryn McLauchlan

AT FIRST glance it seems reasonable to allow new dads an overnight stay with mum and bub in the maternity ward, but it's not that simple.

In Australian public hospitals fathers are usually asked to go home at 8pm once the new mum is settled into the ward.

One might wonder why, because surely dads deserve to be there during at this important time.

But there are many things to keep in mind.

"If it's the middle of the night and it's a shared room, in respect to other women, the fathers are encouraged to go home," clinical midwifery consultant for the Northern NSW Local Health District, Catherine Adams, said.

"You couldn't have two couples staying in the same room for privacy reasons."

While shared rooms couldn't easily support overnighting dads, alternatives are becoming more readily available.

The Byron Central Hospital Birthing Suite for example, contains three private rooms, including a double bed for mum and dad to lie together during labour.

New parents Kim O'Sullivan and Rohini Drury chose the suite for the birth of their boy, Alfie.

"It was really useful having the bed because it meant when I was resting with Alfie, Kim could go on the other side and lie with me," Miss Drury said.

She said "it seems quite isolating" for new mums to be separated from their partner overnight.

"The mother is there with the baby, feeling unsupported and isolated at this really life changing event," Miss Drury said.

She said it was nice having the support of her partner lying beside her during labour, rather than "sitting in a chair like you're a patient".

Mr O'Sullivan agreed: "I wouldn't like the idea of being separate, the idea that I was sleeping in a couch in a separate hall, or at home, I don't particularly like that."

The Byron Central Hospital Birthing Suite is part of the public health system, and its one of four standalone birthing suites across the state.

The next closest one is located at Murwillumbah.

Topics:  babies editors picks health parenting

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