Barney the Labrador Watches His 'Mom' Give Birth in Hospital

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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?

Dogs Ease Anxiety for Pregnant Women:

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Therapy Dogs are very well trained, don't go to the bathroom indoors and are trained to be a calm presence around chaos. My Certified Therapy Dog regularly visits hospitals to cheer up patients and also reads with young children at schools to increase their confidence and reading levels. Hopefully the author does their research on the next article, as this did a disservice to dogs who provide an important function.

March 19 2013 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There are a lot of people in the world who need to get a grip, including the author of this article. Birth is not a sterile process. It's dirty, it's messy, and it's full of germs. Many women pass some feces during the actual birth. Does the author think that fecal material is sterile? Or that it respects the integrity of "sterile field" and all the germs line up and march in the opposite direction?

Basic hygiene my Old Granny's Fanny. There's nothing about birth that even approaches hygienic, dog or no dog.

If the dog makes the process easier for mom, if the dog is well trained and doesn't get in anyone's way, what possible harm could there be?

And, to the author of the article, If someone would have played Enya in the room when I was in labor, I would have screamed and screamed. Horrible, horrible blah boring excuse for music.

January 31 2013 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Um, that's a Golden Retriever, not a Labrador Retriever.

January 31 2013 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mom and baby are way more likely to pick up an infection from the hospital and the staff than from the dog. MRSA, anyone?

January 31 2013 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tiffany L. Jones

Therapy dogs are quite common now. I agree, that someone should do some research before judging the use of a service/therapy animal. So what, the lady wanted her dog with her in the delivery room. That is one scary experience and I sympathize and acknowledge that everyone is different and has different needs. My dog was all I had through a nasty separation and when he got sick, I spent over a grand to save his life and picked up a second job to do so. Some people will never understand the benefits of a non human companion, but does it really matter what they think?

January 31 2013 at 5:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gosh….. doesn't do anything without Barney next to her? Guessing he was there for the conception too…. lucky dog!

January 31 2013 at 1:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Emily Parks

Trained dogs don't go to the bathroom on the floor or growl when they're in work mode. Do some research next time. And I'm sure the doctors checked that he was clean, had his shots, etc.

January 30 2013 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

barney is a service dog and as such has been trained to be quiet, not release bodily functions on the floor and to clam his owner. Maybe some of us need to step into the 21st Century???

January 30 2013 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The dog didn't chew the umbilical cord off & lick the baby clean, it was present in the room to calm the mother. Still better than a home birth...You are free to choose how you want your life to proceed. You have no input on her choices...keep in mind they didn't pull in a homeless hound with no shots, fleas and was a service each their own...

January 30 2013 at 5:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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