‘Am I a sexist pig for refusing a male midwife?’
Some women wouldn't care. For others, the situation would be a hard no.
Regardless of how you feel, one thing is for sure: the idea of having a male midwife deliver your baby is divisive AF.
On one hand, in an equal society, it's important for men and women to feel welcome and supported in any profession. On the other hand, delivering babies is considered by some to be secret women's business.
The topic is so charged that one pregnant mum was losing sleep over whether it was fair to request a female midwife for her labour care.
"I just feel so uncomfortable at the thought of having a male deliver my baby," she wrote on Mumsnet. "It's not a sexual thing. I don't think a man will look at my vagina and get turned on or anything like that.
"I would feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, exposed and embarrassed if there was a man present (other than [dear husband])."
The mum explained that she was pregnant with her third baby, so this wasn't a case of a first-time mum who didn't know the ropes.
"I think it's great that there are male midwives. It must take a special kind of man to want to do that job and I expect they're very professional and amazing," she explained.
"I know people will say, 'when you're in labour you won't care who's in the room,' but I will care. I've given birth three times before and I did care then.
"I enjoyed my previous births and was comfortable being surrounded by lovely women caregivers. I felt very feminine and powerful.
"I didn't care if the female caregiver had given birth herself or not, so it's not even a case of feeling that the male midwife wouldn't have empathy."
She went to the online community to ask how she could include in her birth plan a request for a female-only birth team "without sounding like a sexist pig."
Read about the photo of a baby boy and girl in scrubs that sparked outrage and the phrase midwives have been banned from using when talking to labouring mums.
Some felt strongly that the mum was in the wrong.
"You are being very unreasonable," wrote one person, punctuated with a red, angry emoji. "I'm actually quite cross because this is an entirely sexist way of thinking!"
Another wrote simply, "You are being unreasonable to request a change of midwife for any reason."
One person said the hospital would have seen requests like this before. "They are prepared that some women will decline to use them, so don't worry."
Other commenters agreed. "The priority when a woman is giving birth is that she feels as comfortable as possible. If a woman feels nervous, afraid or uncomfortable, that can adversely affect the progress of the labour."
Some shared their experiences of having male midwives.
"I had a male midwife for my first birth, I can honestly say at the time of pushing out a baby, especially a back-to-back or instrumental delivered baby, you won't care…"
"Years ago my mother had a male midwife. She found it fine but felt that rather than listening to her, he only listened to my father.
"I experienced the same with male doctors when I was recently pregnant, however when it came to pushing - I ultimately did not care who was in the room."
Some commenters questioned whether the mum would refuse a male doctor if the birth turned into an emergency situation.
"Are you uncomfortable with male doctors who may end up delivering? Or the [male] medical students who might stitch [you up]?"
"Say it goes to c-section. Are you OK with a male surgeon, anaesthetist, paediatrician?" another asked.
The mum responded that she wouldn't want a male obstetrician or male student either, but that the point was irrelevant as at her hospital all the doctors were female.
"Obviously if it were a life or death situation for me or the baby then no, I probably wouldn't care who was assisting," she wrote.
"But for me to have a natural birth… I would only feel comfortable under the care of females."
Whatever the mum's motivation for not wanting males to care for her, one commenter neatly summed up our thoughts. "Your body, your birth, your choice."
This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.