Jamie Oliver dismisses controversy over having children watch wife give birth

‘It’s only controversial to really strange people,’ insists chef 

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The Independent Online

Jamie Oliver has dismissed suggestions that having his two eldest children watch his wife Jools give birth and cut the umbilical cord was controversial. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Good Housekeeping, which managed to span his new found appreciation of manicures, fear of mortality, childbirth, bad haircuts and Brexit – the topic few interviews now manage to avoid, Mr Oliver, 41, explained why his teenage daughters were in the delivery room at London’s Portland Hospital in August. 

The chef and campaigner’s children Poppy Honey Rosie, 14, and Daisy Boo Pamela, 13, were there to watch their mother give birth to son River, in what Mr Oliver described on Facebook as an “unbelievably composed, natural birth”. “My two eldest Girls got to come in at the very end as the baby was born, which was amazing to witness, very, very emotional,” he said at the time. 

Jools shared a picture of her newborn son shortly after the birth on Instagram and said she was “very proud” of her two eldest daughters for cutting the cord. 

“It’s only controversial to really strange people,“ insisted Mr Oliver. ”Most of the world has home births, and different countries have different habits. It was an idea from Mum and the kids, and we gave it lots of thought. As soon as the baby was out and safe, we got the nod – Poppy cut the umbilical cord! To see my two teenagers watch their mum was extraordinary. It was the right age for them, the right scenario for us, and I witnessed their initial raw emotion as the little one was handed to them. I know they respect their mum now even more than they already did. It was an amazing show of strength.”

Mr Oliver also addressed Brexit and the fears he has about how leaving the European Union could negatively affect his restaurant chain, warning British restaurants cannot function without employing staff from Europe. 

“If it affects me, it will affect every restaurant and every farm and everyone in the food industry, which is the biggest industry on the planet, and the Government will not have that. We are constantly short-staffed. We haven’t got queues of people wanting jobs. We haven’t got enough chefs. There aren’t enough going through college. Everyone wants staff. It’s an impossibility that Britain can function without European staff. End of. As far as I’m told by the Government, it is going to be law that every restaurant has to have apprenticeships, which is kind of cute and nice, but you can’t force it if there is no one who wants it.”

The full interview appears in the January issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale 8 December.