Barney The Labrador Watches His “Mom” Give Birth In Hospital

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?


Related Care2 Coverage

Listening Dogs Help Kids Learn To Read

Alabama Passes Bill To Allow Autism Therapy Dogs In Schools

The Love of a Good Dog


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Wendy Woodbury
Wendy Woodbury4 years ago

Wow, the author is certainly full of herself and awfully judgmental. Different things calm different people so yay for personal choice. Personally, Enya would make me want to hit somebody; I'd far rather have the dog. And no, dogs are not necessarily dirty animals any more than people are dirty animals. Actually, I've seen some very dirty small children allowed to run rampant, scream uncontrollably, and put their grubby hands all over everything in sight. My preference would be to ban them long before I banned a dog from any place at all.

I am pretty surprised this site even accepted an article like this. I thought they were a bit more enlightened, shall we say. My 2 cents would be to pass on this author's work in the future.

Nikhil D
Nikhil Dutta4 years ago

Great Idea

Cat Albers
Cat Albers4 years ago

Yes, dogs should be allowed. They are part of families and they are healers by nature. They would help more than a lot of doctors/meds.

patricia l.
patricia l4 years ago

Every situation is different. I have Beagles and they very attuned to my moods and health. If I am sick they hang out and try to lick me well. If I am in pain they are upset. I would not submit them to the torture of watching me and hearing me give birth. I imagine they would be so upset that they would howl. I once had a painful kidney stone and was actually keening from the pain. My Beagle who would not leave my side began to howl with me. Sounds funny and I did laugh through my tears of pain. Still...the bottom line is that the Beagle WAS UPSET!

Caroline W.
Caroline Walcot4 years ago

"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?"

Grow up, Judy Molland. A fully trained adult dog does not pee inside a building, ESPECIALLY A THERAPY DOG.

And if patients vomit on the floor, is that counted as "dirt"?

And when babies are born at home in home births, is the midwife wallowing in mud and sewage waste? No, of course not.

Hospitals are excellent places for giving new anitibiotic-resistant bugs to people who entered without infections. I caught a horrible 'flu-like respiratory infection purely from visiting a friend in hospital where she stayed two weeks.

Hospitals are not the squeaky clean places people portray them as. So why ban a dog?

Kris Robison
Kris Robison4 years ago

Perhaps covered already. Birth is NOT a sterile event. Writer of this article not informed.

AnimalWhisperer Rosi

Discernment as ever, within any given situation is the key to wisdom. What is right within one situation, will not be right in another. Humans need to use their powers of intuition, and discernment as animals do, for they make decisions within milliseconds! Humans are just as capable of so doing, but numerous of us simply do not believe in ourselves. If we allow the natural flow in all matters, we will increasingly learn to trust ourselves. Animal Whisperer Therapist Rosi Caswell

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters5 years ago

I am not too sure about this, women seem to think differently. As a man I was there for my wife giving birth to our lovely daughter, best moment of our life. But I could not vision myself to share that moment with my best friend, a dog. I feel there are limits to what we should or not do. I love our dog, a male Rottweiler, he is only one year old and he would have gone ballistic.
On the other hand, Labradors are very gentle with a manageable temper, so I guess she thought she would bond her newborn to that Labrador, her best friend. If any dog can do this, it would be a Labrador.

elaine v.
ain v5 years ago

wow, i find it funny that you should even ask if they should be allowed, considering you dedicated a whole post of disgust answering it yourself.

but yes, i would want my dogs to be around when i give birth. all three of them, in fact.