A day in the life of… a male midwife

As one of just 173 male midwives registered in the UK, John Pendleton’s used to a certain amount of curiosity about his job...

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Who:John Pendleton

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Age: 40

Profession: Community midwife.

Lives: Northampton with partner Rebecca, 40, a lawyer, and their sons Raphael, 8, and Francis, 4.

Story:

I’d been working in TV production for nine years when I decided to quit and train as a midwife. It was the birth of Raphael that inspired me. It was a lovely home birth and the midwife arrived at 2am, stayed for 12 hours, delivered the baby, then came back most days for a fortnight. I liked the idea of being part of someone’s life during such a significant time. I was also looking for a new career where I could spend more time with my family.

I spent three years training and qualified in 2009. People are often curious to meet a male midwife so I get lots of questions. Occasionally they assume I’m a doctor. I’ve never had any hostile reactions.

Diary:

7am

I get up and help Francis dress, then I get the boys’ breakfast. Rebecca leaves at 7.30am and our nanny arrives at 8am.

8.20am

I drive to the midwifery clinic, which is based in a doctors’ surgery. I collect messages and return calls. One new mum has symptoms of the breast infection mastitis. She can’t get a doctor’s appointment, so I arrange a prescription of antibiotics.

9am

My antenatal clinic starts – this morning I have 11 patients. The first is 34 weeks pregnant and we discuss where she wants to give birth. She’s keen to have a home birth, so I write a referral. Northampton has a very high home birth rate, about seven per cent.

Later I see a pregnant teenager for a routine check-up. Last week the hospital wrote to say she’d been to A&E with injuries consistent with domestic abuse. I ask her and she says her boyfriend caused the injuries, but she doesn’t want to press charges.

Sadly I see this kind of thing quite a lot. I check she doesn’t feel in immediate danger and give her numbers for a helpline. I also take the boyfriend’s details as some checks will be done on him. We have to think about the environment the baby’s being born into, as well as the mum’s safety.

1.30pm

After lunch in the staff room, I visit the health visitors at the surgery and we share information. I tell them about the teenager and they agree to go round to support her.

2.15pm

I have four home visits today. The first is to a mum with a two-day-old girl. She’s upset because she’s struggling to breastfeed and had to use formula, which she didn’t want to do. I help her get the baby latched on, give her details of breastfeeding groups and arrange for a colleague to go round tomorrow.

4.30pm

My final visit is to a mum with five-day-old twins who had a caesarean. I take the suture out of the wound and make sure it’s well healed, clean and dry. I check and weigh the twins and arrange another visit for five days’ time.

5.30pm

After driving to Northampton General Hospital to drop off paperwork and input data, I’m done for the day, but am on call until 8am in case the home birth team needs back up. Back home, I say hello to the boys and chat to our nanny. She leaves and I take the boys to Tae Kwon Do.

7pm

Rebecca’s home now and she puts the boys to bed while I make supper – roasted veg with couscous. Later we watch Call The Midwife. I keep my phone on, hoping no one calls me!

The best bit of my job… building relationships with women and their families at such a significant time in their lives.

The worst bit… the paperwork – too much form-filling.

If I wasn’t a midwife, I’d be… a ballet dancer. I’d love to do something so physical and liberating that pushes your body to the extreme.

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