Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Why men have lots to do at the birth of their children

A man named Nick is fighting for the right to cut his baby's umbilical cord. Yes. Correct. You read right. He's desperately trying to reverse a ban by hospitals on dads cutting the gooey bit of blue rope that ties mother to baby.

Mr Bird has said: "This is the only thing a father can do at the birth. I think it's important from a bonding point of view".

I know. Already - so much to say. But it gets better.

The hospital, in south Tyneside, has banned dads and family members from getting hold of the shears after a grandma cut off a baby's toe, 10 years ago.

OK. So where do I begin? Number one. How exactly does someone cut a baby's toe off? Seriously. I'm not trying to be funny but ... And then the idea that the hospital came to the conclusion that all next-of-kin should step away from the scissors, just in case it happened twice? Speaking of probabilities, I think it would be an eerie coincidence should it occur again ...

Anyway, that's not the focus of today's rant. Instead, I'd like to focus on Mr Nick Bird's assumption that there's nothing else a man can do at the birth of his child. I have done some extensive research (well, I've called Lucy, Annie and Jane), and I've been lucky enough to be in the same room as my husband at the birth of my children. Twice. Indeed. Lucky, lucky me. Contrary to popular belief, men actually can do a whole lot more than just cut the baby's food supply from mum at the end of it all. This is the list of men's other uses in the delivery room ...

1. They can turn the telly on and watch Ready Steady Cook with the sound on full volume, shouting: "Come on, you green peppers."

2. They can, and this is really special, tell you to keep your voice down when a contraction comes.

3. They can start telling you that they're not "totally ready" to have a baby. Oh yes. He's had nine months to share his fears about whether going to the zoo every Sunday will freak him out and he waits until you're on the labour ward to say that fatherhood might not "be totally him" .

4. They are truly excellent at whispering under their breath "God, I hope it's a boy", just before the midwife shouts: "It's a girl!"

5. They're not totally useless at spilling Doritos and salsa sauce all over the bed.

6. They can be totally charming when they say: "Jesus. That looks disgusting. There's no way I'm going down that end again."

7. They can be very on the ball when it comes to remembering all those antenatal classes. Ah, I forgot, of course they couldn't make those, because of last-minute "meetings".

8. They can faint. Brilliant. Well done, boys. We're about to push a watermelon from out between our legs and you decide to feel dizzy. Back of the net.

9. They can tell you that they want to go out that night and wet the baby's head at the Met Bar. Then they can spend the next 150 minutes on their Blackberry ordering magnums of champagne and letting all the other boys know there might be a cheeky pop into Spearmint Rhino afterwards at 2am.

10. They can share their hatred of every baby name you've got written down at the back of your diary and they can suddenly announce they've always liked the names Kenneth and Hilary.

11. They can ask you when you're going to start going back to the gym.

12. They can tell you they think water births are "really bloody stupid, you're not a killer whale, love," as you're about to lower yourself into a paddling pool.

13. They're not bad at telling you that you look funny when you're sweating.

14. They can call your mother-in-law to tell her to get to the hospital pronto so that she can look after you while they have a fag.

15. They can occasionally flirt a little with the cute nurse who comes in to change your sick bucket.

16. They can look at you dead straight in the eyes and ask you to promise them that this is not going to change their lives.

17. They can shout "are you seriously doing a number two?" at the top of their voices so that every other human being within a 10-mile radius can hear.

18. They're brilliant at asking you to delay your contractions so they can catch the whole of Arsenal vs Chelsea.

19. They can ask the nurse for some painkillers because they're going through hell (man flu).

20. They can don a full ER outfit and think it's hilarious to keep pushing down on your chest shouting: "Clear!"

So, you see, Nick, it's not just cutting the umbilical cord you can do. There's so much more you can offer your wife.

So, good luck at the birth of your baby and I hope that the hospital lets you have a go at being "useful". But trust me, as long as you try to avoid numbers 1 to 19 (and especially 15), then you'll be more helpful than most.

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