Men prove worth in birthing ward

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Men prove worth in birthing ward

Loving his job: midwife Ben Shields with a newborn at Leongatha Memorial Hospital.

By Brad Lester
MALE nurses may work in what is typically a woman’s domain but Ben Shields is embedded even deeper in ladies’ business.
The Korumburra man may be a husband at home but at work, he is a midwife.
Ben helps the women of South Gippsland deliver babies and then teaches them how to feed, bathe and dress their children.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing,” he said of his work with Gippsland Southern Health Service, at the Leongatha Memorial Hospital.
Despite working in a non-traditional role, Ben is not fazed and would not be in any other job.
“I feel that working in Leongatha, in the country, it’s a little bit more open than in the city,” he said.
After three years in the role, Ben has found himself in many positions, from assessing women and providing ante-natal care, to helping during labour and looking after mums and babies beyond birth.
“The birth is still my favourite part. A great outcome is a healthy mother and baby,” he said.
“While I do have my moments every now and then, it’s nice to see that final expression of love.”
Ben is conscious that being a man working so closely with a woman at a challenging time can be confronting for the mum to be.
“I do have fallbacks because there are extra midwives on duty if a woman does not want a male midwife, but that’s never happened,” he said.
“However I still make a concerted effort to make sure the woman is comfortable.”
Ben has found having midwifery qualifications essential to being able to contribute to the nursing team at a small country hospital.
He is the only male among 20 midwives working on the wards at Leongatha, but GSHS director of nursing, Neil Langstaff, is also qualified to work in “mid”.
When he began in the field at Royal Melbourne Hospital in the 1980s, women were even more prominent in midwifery.
“Every nurse takes their own skills and knowledge into it. Some people feel that men bring a different dimension,” Neil said.
“Male midwives can provide the support that partners need in the labour ward while the woman is birthing. I have five children myself, so I know the stress that fathers go through.”
And female midwives have not minded him being there either.
“Wherever I have worked, there has been no rivalry between men and women,” Neil said.
“It’s just great to be able to help women and bring a new life into the world. It’s one of the happiest things you can do in nursing but it can also be a sad time when things don’t go right.”
Midwives working in rural areas find the personal contact they have with patients
rewarding.
“When you work in the country, you often see the children that you delivered grow up,” he said.
“I have delivered a boy who went on to father a child who was delivered by Ben.”

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=305

Posted by SiteAdmin on Apr 13 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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