A question for all the women reading this: would you want your pet present in the hospital while you went into labor and gave birth?
That’s what happened recently in England.
A pregnant woman in the UK wanted her dog Barney to be beside her in the delivery room during the birthing process, and St. Michaels Hospital, Bristol, granted her request. That’s probably because Barney is a certified Pets As Therapy dog who regularly attends patients in the hospital with his owner.
After the two-hour birth, Barney, believed to be a yellow labrador, stayed alongside the woman, her partner and the midwife, until the family left with their newborn child.
Administrators at the hospital had apparently approved the decision, having received the OK from infection control experts, based on the idea that Barney would be a “calming presence” during the delivery.
Really? I’m not sure how many women in labor would find a dog to be a calming presence. What calmed me during childbirth was listening to Enya, my favorite music at the time, and the anti-nausea medication I was given. But a dog? I did have a cat, but she was the last creature I wanted with me in the delivery room.
The staff at St. Michaels Hospital reacted the same way.
From The Telegraph:
Some staff at the hospital were less than impressed with the decision.
A source said: “Nurses and doctors were appalled but someone at the hospital had given the woman permission so the dog stayed with her in the labour ward.
“This is the first time any of the hospital’s maternity staff can remember such a thing happening. They’re now worried that other women will be allowed to do the same because a precedent has been set.
“Like it or not, dogs are dirty animals – and hygiene is the main concern of staff.”
Sarah Windfeld, hospital head of midwifery, defended the decision to allow the animal in during the birth.
“His owner made the request to us for Barney to be present when she gave birth as a therapy dog, not as a pet.
Hum, I wonder if Barney knew ahead of time what his function for the day was?
Seeing pets in hospitals is not rare these days. There are many hospitals around the US that now allow pet visits as a means of improving both the health and the spirits of their patients. Plenty of studies have shown how having a pet around can alleviate loneliness, provide a sense of purpose, and actually lower blood pressure.
Children with autism, and returning veterans can benefit from the love of a good dog.
But a dog in the delivery room? What about basic hygiene? However cute and friendly, dogs are inherently dirty animals. We don’t know the details, but what if Barney whined and growled? Or peed on the floor?
Isn’t the welfare of the newborn more important that this woman’s love of her dog? Will the newborn be competing with the dog for her affections?
Dogs do not belong in delivery rooms.
What do you think? Should dogs, even therapy dogs, be allowed in maternity wards?
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