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Male midwife shatters female-only stereotype

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

The occupation of midwifery has traditionally been for women but there are a few wonderful male midwives, including a veteran of nearly 30 years.

Over the past 27 years, Joshua Mashiloane (57) has brought countless babies into the world.

He is one of few men who have entered the women-dominated field of midwifery and his love of babies and respect of women and the miracle of birth have ensured that his job is a constant joy to him.

“Women must be respected. They must be taken care of like you take care of your kids and your wife,” said Mashiloane, who works at the Rethabile Healthcare Centre in Polokwane, Limpopo.

He said his job has taught him a lot about different cultures and how women from some cultures do not want a male midwife because of their beliefs.

Other patients, however, ask for him when they go for check-ups at the healthcare centre.

“In the beginning, ladies were uncomfortable with being assisted by a male... I showed them that, above all, I am a nurse and they started to trust me,” he said, when sharing memories of his early days in the profession.Joshua Mashiloane is a Midwife at the Rethabile Healthcare centre in Polokwane, Limpopo.

Mashiloane started as a nurse in 1985 before furthering his studies and specialising in midwifery to become an accoucheur, which is the term used to describe male nurses who are midwives.

He said he has helped women give birth to thousands of children since delivering his first baby in 1992, when he stood in awe of the baby in his hands and the tangible bond between the mother and her newborn.

Mashiloane said the job entails more than just helping with the birthing process; he also helps patients during antenatal visits at which check-ups are done.

“This is a women-dominated profession but there is a place for men too. The profession also helps men to respect women. I think it’s a calling. You must have passion and love midwifery,” he said.

South Africa celebrates International Day of the Midwife on 5 May.   

Did you know?

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing.