Woof! Does Fido Belong in the Hospital Delivery Room?
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Arthur L. Caplan, PhDHi. This is Art Caplan from the NYU Langone Medical Center. Who should be present when a woman is going to deliver a baby? Some women may say that they would like their partner, husband, or boyfriend to be present. Sometimes that husband, partner, or boyfriend doesn't want to be. Men have been notoriously sometimes squeamish about being in the delivery room. But these days, we are used to having somebody show up with a video camera, and maybe even trying to get lights smuggled into the room, to record the wonderful event. So, we've gotten used to something that wasn't the case many, many years ago, when it was tough to have anybody in the room except nurses, or doctors, or maybe a midwife. Today, we've opened the doors, if you will, and at least allow the partner or spouse to come in and be present if they want to be.
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Continued)Should we extend that welcome mat further? A woman in England raises an interesting question to think about, because she wanted her dog to be present during her birth. She had a specially trained dog. I think she suffered from anxiety or PTSD and the dog was basically a therapy dog and helped her to stay calm and remain, not be anxious. She obviously was nervous about giving birth. I don't know if she had a husband. If she did, she didn't ask for him. She asked for the dog. And she got the dog. The dog was present when she gave birth. And there was a lot of backlash among British doctors saying, "You can't put a dog in the delivery room; it is not unhygienic. It might communicate diseases." What's going on here?
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Continued)Well it does raise the question. Should we open the door to dogs and cats and pets? Besides husbands or spouses, who else and what else might be present when a woman wants to give birth? Should clinics say, "Well, if you want the pets there, we've got a special room or a special floor where we clean things thoroughly after each delivery? And, you know, you take your chances having your dog there when your baby is born? Or are things just too buggy and microbial to ever let any kind of a pet cross the threshold?
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Continued)Well, I think there are risks, and I think the risks are pretty significant. I am not sure we should open the door to every barnyard creature we could think of to be present at birth, even when a mom-to-be might say, "I'd like to that pet of mine in here." But at the same time, I think there are arguments that some people, like the woman in England who had a special relationship with her pet, or perhaps a woman who is blind giving birth or other situations, you could imagine mabye a case being made.
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Continued)I think this is an area where we have to think hard. We don't want to jeopardize the health of the mom or the baby, or any other people who are likely to use that room for a delivery. And pets could make it tougher to keep things safe, to keep things hygienic. But there may be a case either to make a special room where this go on or, for certain people who really would be greatly advantaged by having that pet present, to allow them to be there.
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD (Continued)So I think this is a case where we got to start thinking a little more flexibly. If we can make a case for letting men in the room, can it really be beyond our means to figure out how to let a dog or a cat be there? This is Art Caplan at the NYU Langone Medical Center. And thanks for watching.
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