Meet Patrick, the male midwife. . .
Published 22/02/2011 | 05:00
It may be one of the most gender-specific professions, but Patrick White has been bucking the trend for 11 years now.
The 38-year-old from Skibbereen is one of an estimated 10 male midwives in Ireland -- and the only man working in the midwifery department of Cork University Maternity Hospital. He is one of several midwives featured on From Here to Maternity.
Patrick was attracted to the practice while studying nursing at Cambridge. "I fell in love with it straight away. Every single day is rewarding because you get to share in some of the happiest moments of people's lives. Every so often, I bump into parents on the street and they remember me."
Although male midwives are uncommon, Patrick insists he has never encountered prejudice. "People have been very accepting," he says. "I suppose some might have felt that the idea of a male midwife was unusual when I first started, but I'm part of the furniture now.
"The staff at the hospital were very supportive right from the beginning and none of the parents have ever questioned it. The fathers, in particular, tend to be intrigued by a guy doing this job."
While most of his work brings him happiness, there is heartbreak when an infant dies in childbirth. "Unfortunately, not every parent gets to leave with a baby. It's the sad reality. Obviously, it's devastating for the parents, but it's tough for us (midwives) too.
"We're there for each other in times like that and it's important because you need that psychological support."