Male Midwife Gets Banned From Breastfeeding Training Class (What's Next, No Male OB/GYNs?)

BreastfeedingA man studying to become a midwife in the UK has been banned from a breastfeeding class because the women in it weren't comfortable with a male presence. It's a completely backwards situation that is going to backfire and put male midwives at a disadvantage. As a woman, I get it, but as a mom and someone who wants to see more public acceptance of breastfeeding and comfort with women's bodies, I think it sets a terrible precedent.

In the UK, there are 20,000 midwives, only 132 of which are male. It's a rare profession for a man, and we should support the idea that some men may choose to go into a caring profession that is so heavily focused on women and their bodies. This isn't something we should be discouraging at all!

Also: how many women deliver their babies with male OB/GYNs? My guess is a whole lot. So how is this different?

Midwife-in-training Chris Butt said he obviously sees the intimate parts of women in his work all the time. He doesn't deliver babies behind a screen, after all. So what gives?

I have never wanted a male OB/GYN and I also never nursed in front of a man other than my husband. So I get all those things. I get why a woman might not want a man in her class. But how is he supposed to become a midwife without being in the class? Also: how can we ever change men's attitudes about breasts and nursing if we never let them see us in action?

Boobs are only as sexual as we let them be, and by keeping them covered around all men, we make them more mysterious and sexy. Isn't that an odd truth? As a modest woman myself, I can SAY that, but then, in practice, I always nursed under a cover.

So how do we fix this? I think we all need to acknowledge that men play a role in society when it comes to breastfeeding. Any mom will tell you that if her husband or partner wasn't supportive of breastfeeding, then breastfeeding wouldn't have happened. Men matter in this equation. It's a fact.

Babies don't happen without men and nothing in our society will change if we don't get the men on board, too. The best way to make that happen is to expose them to it all. The more they know, the better.

So this class banning a man who is specifically TRYING to do something different and be outside the mold is part of the problem. A man becoming a midwife is something we should encourage. We need more of them.

Do you feel comfortable nursing in front of men?


Image via fifikins/Flickr



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Rosas... RosasMummy

I can't believe you think ANY mum would say they wouldn't have breastfed if their partner wasn't supportive, obviously some women would let their partner make that decision but I'd say they are in a minority.

nonmember avatar Megan

Im so torn on this, I prefer male Obgyn but WOULD feel uncomfortable with a male in my breastfeeding class. I favor the natural route of midwifery and am very thankful that there are men wanting to take that route and respect birth in a non hospital type setting. That said, for some reason it is different for me; I realize the hypocrisy of not being bothered if a male dr. sees me, but not a midwife; it's just how I would feel.
The only thing I would think could be making me feel that way, is that you develop an emotional connection with your midwife/ives, natural birthing is very spiritual, connecting on a mothering and emotional level that hospitals and obgyns can't touch. Hospital and Dr. office is not emotional, its disconnected. SO as a married woman in the middle of a midwife led pregnancy, I would feel a little uncomfortable with a midwife male being in my breastfeeding class and would be covering up way more than I'd like to in a class where I'm trying to be open and learn.
Women go to midwives to feel safe, comfortable and respected; sometimes having a male present at such an intimate time (especially when you already have a male partner/spouse) does not make a lot of women feel that safety, respect and comfort they are looking for.

Betwe... BetweenCourses

I have 5 kids #6 soon, have used a male ob one time, and only bc he was covered by our insurance to do a homebirth.... But male ob/midwives do make me uncomfortable. I don't take my automatic transmission car to a guy that only drives stick, or who is amish to fix it. I would question why a guy, now, wants to go into a profession that most customers want the professional to be female

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

Ive always been more comfortable infront of men than women! I don't cover but am very modist. Most people don't even notice what I'm doing but women tend to always have a reaction good or bad. Men look suprised for a second and then tend to pretend nothing's going on. I've never had a man make me feel uncomfortable. Maybe they just take longer to form an opinion?! (lol... But... :) )

miche... micheledo

I have nursed in front of men . . .

However - with my first born the breastfeeding consultant that came to my hospital room actually handled my breast, manipulated it, and put it in the baby's mouth to show me how it was done.  Having a male do that - NOT happening.  :D

He should be allowed in the class - but I wouldn't let him touch my breast.

jalaz77 jalaz77

I guess it doesn't bother me. He can look at the most private part of my body but a boob is a problem??

SickO... SickOfMorons

So, you all want to be able to nurse in public, but a male lactation consultant is bad? I thought breastfeeding was beautiful and natural. Why would a man being in the room bother you?

MomLi... MomLily67

Woman Ob/Gyns make me uneasy, I prefer a male doc checking me. I think it has to do wiht the fact that a lady ob i met at a party was saying mean things about her patients body parts. My OB's parents and mine were friends so I've know him for a long time, and don't feel a bit embarrased. Feel the same about a male midwife or lactation consultant.

I can't believe there are so many prudes!!!

nonmember avatar Shannon

After I gave birth to my twins, I think everyone in the hospital saw my boobs... Nurses, doctors, interns, food service, janitorial staff... Who cares, I was feeding my kids, not filming a porno.

Tripl... TripleC14

I'm of two minds about this. I understand the sentiment of the women that were uncomfortable, but also feel the male class members need to participate. Perhaps a compromise could be found, letting the women know in advance that male midwives will be present on X days so they can choose whether or not to come.

SickofMorons, what on earth does feeding your baby in public have to do with a male midwife participating in a class which likely involves handling women's exposed breasts?? I nursed in public under a cover many times, but don't allow random men to touch my body. I don't see the contradiction. You should refer to your screen name for some inspiration...

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