Did you know that driving whilst sleep deprived is the equivalent of being well over the legal drink drive limit? Not surprisingly this has led to many fathers not feeling confident when driving their newborn babies home from the hospital. When I had Spud I was admitted into hospital at 1am on the Saturday morning and he wasn’t born for another 24 hours. We had both only had a few hours sleep on the Thursday night and both didn’t sleep well whilst I was in hospital. By the time Spud was born the Hubby and I were both knackered. Nobody really considers how the Dad might feel because after all the Mum is the one doing the actual hard work! Luckily for us I then had to stay in hospital until the Tuesday so the Hubby was nice and refreshed for our drive home.
Britax, in conjunction with Loughborough University, have recently conducted a survey of 1000 British fathers aged between 18 and 40 and found that 1/3 admitted that they didn’t feel safe driving their baby home. Over a quarter couldn’t even remember the journey home and 1 in 10 drove on only one hours sleep within the previous 48 hours. 60% admitted that ordinarily they would never have driven when that tired. However 85% said that they would do it again as they had no other option.
Louise Reyner, Senior Lecturer and sleep expert at Loughborough University, says, “The excitement of being a new dad can overshadow tiredness, and it is only when things begin to settle down on the drive home, when dads may realise how sleepy they really are. Then it is likely that their driving impairment is worse than being well over the legal alcohol limit – would you otherwise be driving in this state? Take care of your new family and think before you drive.” With this in mind Britax and Loughbourgh University have produced the following guidelines.
· Plan a route home from the hospital that you feel comfortable and secure with (this may be different to the route you took to the hospital)
· Try to get a couple of hours sleep before picking up mother and baby from hospital, or failing that, make time to take a 15 minute nap before you drive
· Followed by drinking one or two strong cups of coffee
· Wrap up your baby so you can keep fresh, cool air circulating in the car
· If you don’t feel safe, pull over and take a break
· Grandparents or a family friend could take the strain off dad by driving the family home