Deciding who she wants by her side during labour can be a tricky dilemma for a mother-to-be.
Most will want their partner present; but many choose to have their mother or a best friend there, too, giving extra support and encouragement.
For 32-year-old Jade Lee, there was never any doubt over the person she wanted by her side in the delivery suite: her father Cliff.
Extremely close to the man she still calls ‘Daddy’, Jade, an assistant headteacher from London, didn’t want him waiting at home for a phone call. She wanted him there with her, through every grunt, groan and contraction.
‘My Daddy is my hero,’ says Jade. ‘He was so thrilled when I told him that I was pregnant, dancing around the room and singing, “I’m going to be a grandpa.”
‘He’s always been there for me, and I wanted him to be part of the most important experience of my life.’
While most women would squirm with embarrassment at the very thought of their own father seeing them so exposed, Jade had no such qualms about letting 58-year-old Cliff witness such an intimate event.
‘My dad means as much to me as my mum. I don’t see it as “she’s female and he’s male”. He’s my dad. I’ve never been self-conscious in front of him — as a family, we’re not like that.’
And as for Cliff, he didn’t hesitate to accept his daughter’s unusual request.
‘He said instantly, “I’ll be there for you, no question,” says Jade. ‘And my mum was very supportive of my decision, too. My parents come as a team.’
So when Jade went into labour in February this year, she was accompanied by her parents, her younger sister Chelsea, her friend Natalina, and her now ex-partner.
‘The midwife kept asking if I was sure I wanted all these people in the room,’ recalls Jade. ‘But I knew what she was really asking was if I wanted my dad there.’
When Jade returned to work, it was doting Grandpa Cliff who cut back his own hours to take on most of the childcare
Nobody could blame the midwife for her surprise. According to Jacque Gerrard, Director for England at the Royal College of Midwives, it is extremely unusual for women to want their fathers to witness them delivering a baby.
‘It’s not something I’ve ever come across — and I’ve been practising for over 30 years,’ she admits. ‘But we are very pro-choice, so if that’s really what the woman is requesting, then it would be facilitated.
‘It would be similar to anyone else being present at birth. The expectation is that the person is there to support the woman emotionally.’
Jade, who had a water birth, insists she didn’t feel awkward at all, even stripping off her bikini top when she got too hot.
‘I’m not prudish. When you’re pushing a baby out, you’re not thinking about whether or not you’re naked, you’re just focusing on getting the baby out.’
While Cliff wasn’t positioned at the ‘business end’ of the birth, Jade insists this wasn’t to protect her privacy, but to avoid obstructing the midwife. Nevertheless he still played a vital role.
Jade says: ‘He stood behind my head the whole time, stroking my forehead. He kept telling me how proud he was of me and saying, “Come on, Jade, you can do this.” It was fantastic to have him there.’
And when baby Indie was finally born, Cliff was one of the first to hold her — just as he’d held Jade straight after her birth.
‘It felt very special to watch that bonding moment,’ she says. ‘I could see the love he had for me was the same love he had for Indie the moment he saw her.’
‘It was absolutely perfect. Having my dad and everyone else there was magical. Even the midwife said it was the most amazing birth she’d been part of.’
It wasn’t until afterwards that Cliff revealed how scared he’d been seeing his child in pain as she had a baby of her own. He later told Jade that he’d never truly appreciated how dangerous giving birth can be, and that he feared there would be complications.
Sadly, Jade and her partner separated a few months after Indie’s birth, so Jade moved back in with her parents. And when Jade returned to work, it was doting Grandpa Cliff who cut back his own hours to take on most of the childcare.
Many women may recoil at the idea of their fathers witnessing their labour, but Jade firmly believes that Cliff being there to witness his only grandchild’s first breath and cry has cemented their bond.
‘Indie idolises her grandpa, and he thinks she’s the best thing in the world. He’s so proud to have been a part of her birth. He loves telling people he played a role in it.’
Source: Daily Mail