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‘What's it like being a male midwife?’

02 July 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 7


After 30 years of men in the profession, John Pendleton wonders why do we still need to ask this question?

As a clinician I consciously made the decision not to focus on my separateness as a ‘male midwife’. This evolved partly after uncomfortable experiences with mentors who were unsure as to how to introduce me to labouring women. They would send me off to find a piece of equipment then disappear into the room of the woman we had been assigned. Waiting for permission to enter, I would overhear conversations such as, ‘I'm working with a student, he's a man—is that OK? You don't have to have him if you don't want.’ This highlighted to the labouring woman that this was an unusual situation which went against expected convention and placed me in the role of what Simpson (2008) calls the ‘voyeur’. If she ‘bravely’ volunteered to accept me into the room, I had to work hard to overturn this initial negative perception to reach the same point of acceptance that my fellow female cohort members automatically enjoyed.

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