Lefty or righty? Here are some astonishing statistics on the effect of your dominant hand. 2015. (accessed 18 August 2016)

Chapman V Clinical skills: issues affecting the left-handed midwife. British Journal of Midwifery. 2009; 17:(9)588-92

Johnson R, Taylor W, 4th edn. Edinburgh: Elsevier; 2016

Kettle C The pelvic floor, 14th edn. (eds). Edinburgh: Elsevier/Churchill Livingstone; 2011

Lewis L “Are you sitting comfortably”?. Midwives Chron. 1994; 107:(1277)226-7

McManus ILondon: Weidenfield and Nicolson; 2002

London: NMC; 2009

Royal College of Midwives. How to perform an episiotomy. 2012. (accessed 17 August 2016)

London: RCM; 2015

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The management of third and fourth degree perineal tears. Green Top guidelines No. 29. 2007. (accessed 17 August 2016)

Sleep J, Grant A, Garcia J, Elbourne D, Spencer J, Chalmers I West Berkshire perineal management trial. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1984; 289:(6445)587-90

Verralls S, 3rd edn. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 1993

Should left-handed midwives and midwifery students conform to the ‘norm’ or practise intuitively?

02 September 2016
10 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 9


Many tasks in midwifery are learned and taught from a right-handed perspective, meaning they may prove difficult for people who are left-handed. Experiences of midwives and midwifery students show that there are various barriers to learning and performing certain skills for left-handed people, and they are often forced to choose whether to persist in conforming to the ‘norm’ and using their right hand, or adapt elements of practice to suit left-hand dominance.

It has been suggested that the growing proportion of left-handed people—or, more specifically, the greater acknowledgement of left-handedness over the past century—may be the result of fewer left-handed people being ‘forced’ to use their right hand to conform to the ‘norm’, rather than a greater incidence of left-handedness (McManus, 2002). There are approximately 27 000 midwives in the UK (Royal College of Midwives (RCM), 2015); however, there is no official data as to the proportion of midwives who are left-handed, nor research into whether they practise with left-handed dominance.

This article was inspired by hearing the experiences in practice of first-year student midwives who are left-handed. It also documents the experiences of Julie Quilter, a left-handed senior lecturer in midwifery who trained in the early 1980s. Questions raised by this article include:

On commencing my midwifery training in late 1982, I was greeted the first morning by a senior tutor asking if anyone in the group was left-handed. I raised my hand and her words to me were: ‘Don't let them put you off… I'm left-handed and I'm still here. Tell them on labour ward that you are left-handed.’ At no time in my nurse training had the issue of being left-handed been raised as a potential difficulty with clinical skills, so this identification of my ‘difference’ was both surprising and puzzling.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month