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How does it feel to have a male midwife or health visitor?

Zach’s fourth birthday is rapidly approaching (how the heck did that happen?!) and I have been thinking back to his birth and early days.
My first health visitor was a man and I did not feel comfortable about discussing contraception, breastfeeding, the sheer exhaustion of having 3 children aged 5 and under. I don’t think it helped that the man wasn’t English and I resorted to that classic English thing of speaking LOUDLY AND CLEARLY.
I didn’t want to share my real feelings with him but I genuinely don’t know if that was due to his gender or nationality. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t matter but having been through a huge physical and mental experience, I really wanted a woman who would be sympathetic and understanding. All the skill in the world counted for nothing when I needed someone to chat to.

I wonder how it would have been to have a male midwife throughout my pregnancies, if I’d had a chance to build a relationship. My community midwives were all about 15 years or more older so they felt mumsy and reassuring to me. My midwives at the actual births were older for Matt and then young and childless for Anya and Zach: the former was bossy and unsympathetic (until they saw the size of Matt’s head and instantly forgave me for screaming!) but the latter were lovely and supportive. My health visitors, except for Zach’s, were brilliant and excellent at developing a rapport with me.
Based on my own experiences, men are more than capable of the professional side of being a midwife or health visitor. However, birth is a uniquely female experience and I’m not convinced that men can ever fully understand despite all their experience and training.
I asked my fellow bloggers for their experiences with male midwives and health visitors and here is what they said:

 

Vicki: Blossomeducation.co.uk
I could never really understand why people discount male doctors when going for check ups. However, I sort of understand why people don’t want to have a male midwife based on the positive experiences I had with mine. Personally, I found their own stories of child birth and them understanding the pain (and trauma) really useful. I never felt as though I was being dismissed and knew that they understood me from their own perspective. Having said that, if you had a midwife who didn’t have her own children, you could potentially feel similar to the male midwife. At the end of the day, they’ve all had the same training and I’d like to think that, regardless of gender and own family situation, they’d be professional, but also warm, approachable and understanding.
Lisa: babynotincluded.co.uk
I did with my first who is now 20 and it was very unusual back then. He was lovely though
Jenny: midwifeandlife.com
I didn’t have one but I’ve worked with a few Male midwives who were excellent at their jobs- it also depends on the person rather than their genitals. Some female midwives are cold and unsympathetic, whilst some Male midwives are your best support.
Clare: mymoneycottage.com
I was asked if I’d mind having a male student midwife when I was in labour with my eldest son who’s now 13. At the time I refused, I felt very vulnerable and was quite young, I just didn’t want another man in the room. I think if I was asked now I’d be ok with it though. I have far fewer hang ups than I used to!
Kate: refinedprose.com/
I had a male midwife with my second baby. He was well-known in the community because he was the only one! He was a lovely guy, however there’s no way I’d have been comfortable letting him give me a sweep. If I see a gynaecologist once, that’s fine. Getting to know somebody across many weeks and then being naked in front of them is quite different! It was bad enough with my first midwife who was a woman. Aside from that aspect, I had no issue.
Sophie: sophobsessed.com
I had a male midwife for a period with my second. I’m ashamed to say at first I wasn’t sure when I saw his name on my paperwork but as soon as I met him it was like any other health professional and I was sad when the shift rota changed and I lost him! I also had a trainee male midwife after that who was brilliant!
Laura: fivelittledoves.com
I had a male midwife during my second delivery who was wonderful. He couldn’t thank me enough for allowing him to nurse me as he said so many women on the labour ward refuse a male midwife.
Irina: wavetomummy.com
I had a male midwife in my second birth. He asked me as he came in if I was OK with him being the midwife. I didn’t have a problem with his gender, and I anyway had had plenty of male obstetricians “down there” already so a Male midwife wasn’t anything strange. We got chatting and I found he was a career changer, from carpentry to midwifery. After having witnessed his wife’s very difficult labour he wanted to become a midwife. He was great! Very helpful and gave great support, just like any other good midwife, male or female, should do.

 

Becky: themummyadventure.com
I had a male midwife as my community midwife in my first pregnancy and he was awful. He made mistakes on my notes that seriously impacted my care and seemed to nervous to use words relating to the female genitalia. I don’t have a problem with male midwives but I was very glad that he retired before I had my second as I found him pretty incompetent
Laura: themammafairy.com
I had a male mid wife on my first. Hand on heart he was the most compassionate of all the mid wives i had across both pregnancies
Hayley: seestayexplore.com
I had a male health visitor with my son and although I was a little nervous about it at first, it was absolutely fine and he was the best one that we had. I thought nothing of having a male doctor throughout my labour or visiting one when I had mastitis so I’d be being pretty hypocritical to have something against a male midwife or health visitor when they’re doing much the same role.
Sophie: mamamei.co.uk
Due to past trauma I really didn’t want any male medical professionals. But actually once in labour I didn’t care and he was actually just as caring if not more than some of the females in the room.
Emma: happyfamilyhub.co.uk
A professional is a professional, regardless of their gender in my opinion. During a traumatic birth, my daughter was delivered in a room full of people, mostly female midwives but also one male (no idea if he was a midwife or doctor to be honest, I was just glad of the help!). The term midwife in itself is a bit sexist, male or female, as long as they do their job I don’t mind either! 🙂
What are your experiences of having a male midwife or health visitor?


8 comments

  1. Interesting. I’d never considered this before and I had female midwives/health visitors for both of my babies. I do think I would have been uncomfortable and I’m with you that it’s a female experience and a male can never fully understand. It’s lovely to read the different experiences people have had though #DreamTeam

  2. I have had a male consultant and obstetrician for various things, but I don’t think I would have liked a male for my check ups during pregnancy or in the labor ward. Having said that, I have zero recollection of who was actually in the room when I delivered my daughter, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered at the end of the day. In my opinion though, there is just something to be said about someone who has given birth and knows exactly what you are going through. #DreamTeamLinky

  3. A really interesting post. At our hospital we did not see a single male midwife and I found it strange. It is of course perfectly normal for a woman to feel more comfortable with other females but I wondered whether men just did not go into the profession or were not welcomed.
    #dreamteamlinky

  4. My former dr is male – he was brilliant and there was pretty much nothing I wouldn’t say (because he’s a dr not a person right?) He moved city (devastated) and now I have a new dr who is also male. My kids have a female dr. Gender wasn’t really part of it. I just need a dr I think is good and my kids need one who is super thorough to the point of irritating….ha! But if they made me feel uncomfortable, then I wouldn’t see them because you need to say everything to them otherwise it’s a waste of time #Dreamteam

  5. Brilliant discussion. I had a male lead surgeon and there was definitely 2 other males in the team when I had to have that dreadful C-Section. Hands down, the male lead was absolutely incredible. If there was a choice, I would have actually opted for a male midwife or health visitor. The ladies in the postnatal ward were absolutely horrendous and bitchy. Thankfully, the male lead rescued us when I was being withheld pain relief after the op, because they seemed to be under the impression that I had opted for a c-section. I hadn’t, but it really shouldn’t have made a difference to how they cared for someone. So yes, championing the male midwives and health visitors all the way. #DreamTeamLinky xxx

  6. It is a really interesting topic and one I hadn’t previously thought of. I had both positive and negative experiences with midwives who were all female. In fact the midwife who I thought was amazing didn’t have any children so didn’t have the perspective of understanding the childbirth experience either. #DreamTeamLinky

  7. I haven’t had a male midwife (yet!) but don’t see the difference between a male midwife & a female mifwide who hasn’t had kids – when you know, you know! #DreamTeamLinky

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