Patrick White, T&T’s first male midwife. The term ‘male midwife’ may send your brow up. But, indeed, there are male midwives and although a handful, they do exist. It’s only been 40 years since males were allowed to train in the UK, but it is a growing profession in parts of Europe.
On October 24, the Irish Examiner published the death of Patrick White, the only male midwife to have worked at Cork University Maternity Hospital.
On October 22, T&T received its first licenced male midwife. At 32 years old, Kerne Ramnath successfully completed the midwifery licensure exam, which now allows for him to legitimately practice midwifery in T&T.
It was while studying nursing that Ramnath became attracted to the practice of midwifery. Prior, nursing was not a career goal of his; rather he wanted to become a policeman.
“My mom found the ad in the newspaper and asked me if I would do nursing and I said yes,” he tells the Sunday Guardian.
But once training began, Ramnath’s mind changed about the armed service. He quickly fell in love with nursing and found it to be quite fulfilling.
His love for the profession grew once he was exposed to midwifery during a training exercise that involved being assigned to the maternity department of a public hospital.
“I was immediately intrigued and I told myself then, maybe in the future I could follow up on this,” Ramnath recalls.
The future came, but in 2013 when the Port-of-Spain resident applied for the midwifery programme offered by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, he was turned down. But this did not faze Ramnath and he applied again in 2016, this time gaining a favourable outcome.
To his success, Ramnath credited the 2013 amendment of the Nurses and Midwife Act, which made provision for males to be accepted to be trained as midwives in a more “definite way.”
He describes midwifery as a responsibility that one cannot explain or place a monetary value to. “God is putting you there to guard this door for Him, you have to ensure both mother and baby are safe.”
Baffled by the many stories often heard about the alleged horrific treatment some mothers experience during labour at the hands of medical staff, particularly at public hospitals, Ramnath says, “If any of these stories are true, they were trained well and they know better.”
But he was also very quick to make a clear distinction, “Midwifery is a separate profession from the nursing profession. It is governed by its own International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and should not be confused with a specialty area in nursing.”
He said during labour, a midwife or anyone delivering a baby must be courteous, caring, encouraging, and knowledgeable about the delivery process.
It’s also Ramnath’s belief that more men should seek out the profession, as he said it would allow them to have a greater appreciation for the woman and her ability to birth a child.
But further to this, the father of one said midwifery develops one’s patience, compassion, and responsibility.
Aside from the practice of midwifery, Ramnath is currently pursuing management and public administration studies, for which he intends to utilise in the future when he opens his own medical centre.
He thanked the North West Regional Health Authority, for the opportunity he received to train in midwifery through its scholarship programme, and the maternity staff at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, whom he said was extraordinarily supportive during his period of training.
Midwifery develops one’s patience, compassion and responsibility