Giving birth the Jamie and Jools Oliver way: letting the kids watch

The daughters of Jamie Oliver and wife Jools cut their baby brother’s umbilical cord this week

Jools and Jamie Oliver leave hospital with the newest addition to the Oliver family, a baby boy who has yet to be named, and their older children Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear Maurice and Poppy Honey Rosie. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Jools and Jamie Oliver leave hospital with the newest addition to the Oliver family, a baby boy who has yet to be named, and their older children Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow, Buddy Bear Maurice and Poppy Honey Rosie. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

 

“It’s a baby boy!!” announced Jamie Oliver on Instagram after his wife, Jools, gave birth to their fifth child at London’s Portland Hospital on Monday. It was a natural birth, the baby weighed the equivalent of 16 packs of butter, and Jools “was really, really amazing, unbelievably composed”.

Extraordinarily, given than this is the chef who uses the word “epic!” to describe everything from hot chocolate to egg salad, it did not feature in his emotional account of the birth. And birth, however it happens, is more epic than Jamie Oliver’s Epic Roast Chicken Salad .

Anyway, there was more. “My two eldest girls got to come in at the very end as the baby was born,” Oliver continued, “which was amazing to witness … very, very emotional”.

Later, Jools posted a photo of the baby breastfeeding on Instagram and added: “So very proud of our two eldest daughters who cut the cord”.

All of which raises an important question – no, not “Is it really necessary to share your birth story on Instagram (preferably #nofilter)?”, but rather: “Should you let your children watch you giving birth?”

According to Jacque Gerrard, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for England, if it happens in a prepared, loving and supportive environment, why not? “It’s really positive and healthy,” she tells me.

“Those girls are 12 and 14. They would have been well prepared, and to be able to help by cutting the cord is beautiful, and so positive in terms of the relationship with the new baby.”

Few studies have been done into the impact on children of attending a birth – or, indeed, of repeat viewings of One Born Every Minute on all of us – but there is no evidence to suggest it results in trauma. And it remains relatively uncommon, even in the US, where it is on the rise: a 2009 survey of 69 hospitals in the south-eastern US found only 22 per cent allowed siblings to observe during delivery. In the UK and Ireland there is no available data, but Gerrard says that that, anecdotally in the UK, more women are asking for their children to be present at birth.

“It’s not a big thing in the UK, and it probably isn’t something midwives encouraged in the last 20 years,” she says.

“But it is on the increase. Given that we are trying to improve choice, if having children present is part of that choice, we should be supporting women. Birth is a family event, and it affects everyone. With the right support and preparation, why shouldn’t they be involved?”

(Guardian service)

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