Why midwives need to cut modern dads some slack – Susan Morrison

It’s great that modern dads want to be involved in childbirth even if it can reduce them to quaking jelly, writes Susan Morrison.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 6:00 am
Dads are much more hands-on with the new arrivals these days – so let’s cut them a bit of slack if they want to get involved. PIcture: Getty

Lions may be the king of the jungle, but they don’t rule the roost. The boys with the big hair are only there to look good for the tourists and make baby lions. It’s the lionesses who do all the work, and I should know, I’ve watched Attenborough.

Simba the lion king strolls in, roars a bit, mates a bit, then sits about all day looking noble. She’s out there with the rest of the gals making sure the wildebeest population doesn’t get out of control by bringing the occasional dead one home for dinner.

The lioness is the kind of mamma we can all aspire to, although there are few human females who head out of a morning with the pride to take down an elderly antelope for the kids’ lunch. Well, not in Leith at any rate.

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Human dads used to be more ­leonine. They were distant from the cubs and rarely went on the hunt for food, unless it was for fish suppers. Things have changed, though.

These days dads are far more involved. I hear young lads chat away about nappies and feeding and how much sleep they are getting whilst they split shift the baby care. You can barely move in Stockbridge for blokes strolling about with baby carriers strapped to their fronts, like a benign alien has just burst out of their chest and made itself at home under a woolly hat.

Midwives’ air of command

It’s great that modern dads are involved – it’s just that sometimes they get too involved. The maternity unit at the hospital can’t get rid of them. They’ve taken to infesting the unit like large cats, and like large cats, they seem to be rather getting in the way.

Midwives are complaining that the lads just aren’t taking the hint and getting out from under everyone’s feet. This came as a surprise to me. Midwives are straight-talking women. Midwives do not hint. They command, and usually use clear language such as “push” and “now”.

Now they can’t get about their day without tripping over some lad lolling about like a lion, hogging the power sockets and ordering takeaways.

Let’s cut the guys some slack here. The idea that they will soon have to go home with their cub and slightly frazzled lioness has left the lads in a state of mild panic. The aura of calm every midwife carries attracts them like moths to flame.

All they need is a bit of training. Perhaps we need classes for dads, like the childbirth classes for mums. I know the dads-to-be are encouraged to go to birthing classes, but just about every young man I’ve spoken to who has gone stopped listening when the realisation of what’s going to happen hits them. That’s usually about five minutes in. One lad of my acquaintance was reduced to a quaking jelly by the mere mention on the word ­“peritoneum”.

It’s great that dads want to get involved, so let’s give them a bit of a hand to cope with their brand new world.