Meet Otis Kryzanauskas, Canada’s only male registered midwife

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Photo courtesy of Peter Power/The Globe and Mail.

Our (Canadian) copy editor Caroline loves to point out all the ways that Canada is cool — ketchup chips and all. But when she shared this bit about the country’s first registered male midwife I was intrigued:

Otis Kryzanauskas will soon be Canada’s only registered, practising male midwife. And while the disadvantages a man faces in the field are obvious, the 25-year-old from Kimberley, Ont. says the fact that he will never give birth offers one unexpected edge: “Some women don’t want their experience coloured by the [personal] experience of their midwife,” he says. “I don’t tell people, ‘Well, I did this, you can do it.'”

Mr. Kryzanauskas told The Globe and Mail he’s happy to be a pioneer, but has hardly had time to beat the drum for male midwives – he’s been too busy attending to nearly 100 births.

Why midwifery?

Maybe it was having seen someone give birth in that particular manner – a natural home birth with midwives in attendance. It just seemed like the right way to do things. That’s not to say I never considered going into obstetrics, but … I really do enjoy the continuity of care: meeting a client for the six months before delivery and then the six weeks after, you just get to know her and her family and the baby really well.

Kryzanauskas also cut this brother’s umbilical cord… which you can read all about.

Question: it seems that plenty of folks opt for a male OB/GYN with no problem — if going the midwife route, does the sex of your midwife matter to you?

Comments on Meet Otis Kryzanauskas, Canada’s only male registered midwife

  1. I find this really interesting, as in the UK there are a fair few male midwifes (although they’re still very rare) There are 3 in the London hospital where I will be having my baby (and I have had two of my antenatal appointments with one of them so far) and I have no problem at all with one of them attending my birth!

    I would be interested to hear from the perspective of people who have had a male midwife during labour, and how they found the experience though!

  2. We actually had a male midwife (a certified nurse midwife who was part of a practice of OBs) until recently. We wound up leaving that practice because of concerns about the hospital it was affiliated with (and we moved and it was a pain in the ass to get to appointments), but he was great! As with any medical provider, I feel like finding someone you like and trust is a lot more important than gender, when it comes down to it.

  3. I think this is wonderful! I love seeing men choose nurturing professions. I would have no problem with a male midwife whatsoever. What matters most is knowledge, bedside manner, trust and respect.

  4. As a nurse (and student midwife), it really bummed me out in nursing school when patients were down with their male OBGYN but were adverse to letting one of my male peers observe as a student (while still allowing female students). Of course the patient’s wishes are always to be respected and honored, but I felt like my favorite man nurses got a raw deal during school…people expected to see male docs but not male nurses? And I totally get what he’s saying about not having experienced childbirth. As a student midwife with no kids I get asked that a lot and I feel like most patients appreciate that perspective.

  5. [Trigger warning: child abuse]

    After years of therapy, I am able to talk about my molestation that occurred as a child. It helped define who I am now, and while it was a terrible offense against me (and many, many other people), I don’t want you to think of sympathetically. I am a strong, proud mama, who is able to face a lot tougher situations now because of what I have already overcome.

    That being said, when I had my first prenatal appointment, I had no idea they would do an ultrasound transvaginally. I broke into a hysterical fit. I need to get to know men before they can just dive into my vagina now. It took almost a year before I did anything with my (sweet, wonderful, understanding,) patient husband.

    My best friend is a guy. My closest sibling is a male. Some of the closest relationships I have are with dudes. But I am much more comfortable with an experienced, mothering, female presence. That’s why I spent almost 3 minus of my early pregnancy finding a doctor with a private practice, so I didn’t have to run the risk of rotating doctors and a surprise invasion of my vaginal area by a male doctor. I even requested all female nurses.

    I had a wonderful, empowering birth.

  6. during my fist birth i met wonderful and awful midwifes ( all female) and wonderful and awful doctors (mostly male).
    for me it´s about sympathy, or chemistry, not gender..

  7. I would absolutely go with a male midwife if I liked his style – for me, it’s all about the personality. I like the statement about how he can’t possibly let his own personal experience about birth colour how he speaks to a client. That’s sort of why I worry about having my mom at my birth, though she wants to be there. I know it’ll be a lot of “If I can do it without drugs, so can you!” I don’t want to take part in a toughness competition. 🙂

    A male acquaintance of mine recently did some midwifery training in NZ (he’s from Canada originally) and he ran into a lot of discrimination from women in the program which is a little disheartening. He’s so warm and lovely, I would absolutely trust him in that scenario.

  8. I love the idea, but I don’t know if I could work with a male midwife. I’ve only been pregnant once, but during delivery I wanted women nearby, and women only. Something about female energy was extremely comforting at the time.

  9. While I know I shouldn’t care and should see past gender, it has always been important to me to have a female gyno and female midwives. An individual’s personality is more important than gender though – I’ve disliked female midwives. I love that there are male midwives, but I don’t think that’s for me. I think with a midwife I see it as a throwback to having a community of women support each other during birth.

  10. My reaction to this is both Yay! And Hmmm. More power to him and the women who are down with it. But I don’t personally like to have male OBGs, or even as my general doctor. And during prenatal appointments, labor, childbirth, I found women who had been through it to be much more helpful and empathetic. So its nothing against men in general, I was annoyed with the childless women nurses too. And I could totally tell which ones had never had kids, and my attitude was pretty much YOU HAVE NO IDEA STFU! Having other women who had been there wouldn’t color my experience so much as give me a kind of support and understanding I don’t think someone who hadn’t pushed a baby out could.

  11. I wouldn’t mind one little bit.

    The female midwife I had during the birth was brill. The male ob/gyn who did my internal exam when I ended up in hospital with abdominal pains was also great. The female midwife I had at my clinic appointments all through pregnancy and after was… well.. rubbish.

    Basically, being female doesn’t automatically make you a good midwife, just as being male doesn’t automatically make you a BAD one so I’d be quite happy with a man OR a woman so long as they were good at their job.

  12. In Australia, while I would say still very much in the minority, we have male midwives. At first, I thought i wanted someone who could really identify with me but the most respected midwife in the area was a man so finally I thought I’d at least like to meet him! As it turned out, he was fully booked for the month I was due and I ended up moving too far away anyway. I still think that I’d prefer a woman (I have a female midwife for this new pregnancy) but I’m not completely opposed!

  13. So interesting!! I was just talking about the concept of a male midwife the other day, and we were discussing how it would be received. Although we opted for a birth center birth that came with all female midwifes, my OB is a male and he’s awesome!

  14. Certainly a male midwife is not for everybody and that’s totally fine. I still think that people should be applauded when they surpass gender ‘norms’ like this in such a positive way.

  15. For me, I think gender is not the most important thing. When my partner and I have babies, I want someone I’m comfortable with, especially because we are a same sex couple. So I probably wouldn’t go for a straight dude, but a gay, bi, or trans dude I would be all about. I would probably choose a man who identifies somewhere on the LGBT spectrum over a straight lady.

  16. When I was younger the thought of having a guy ob/gyn freaked me out, but now I don’t really care. Mine is a woman and I’ve always gone to her, but if I had to switch I think I’d survive and male midwives sound good to me! I don’t think being a man in any way makes him less able to do the job, it’s not like all women would be great midwives based on their sex.

  17. My husband is a nurse, so of course I’m down with switching up “traditional” gender roles in health care jobs, but… with birth in particular, I’d want at least one other person there who had personally given birth. It’s just such a raw, powerful experience I find it in no way comparable to your average OB/GYN visit. It’s like having a sports coach who’s never played themselves at the top of their field. They can know just as much or more than a professional player, and certainly there are tons and tons of players who would be terrible coaches, but all things considered I’d want someone who knew what it was like to be where I was.

  18. Something that I was thinking about was the fact that if there are male midwives, it means they WANT to be midwives. You don’t go around gender expectations unless you really want to do something. That’s not to say that the female midwives don’t want to be there, just that the male ones have a little extra pressure (trust me – coming from a female engineer)

    I agree with the wanting someone there who has actually given birth though. I think for me it would just be my mom though.

    I have a male gyno (he actually delivered me) and I feel as comfortable with him as anyone else.

  19. Trigger Warning:

    I had a bad experience with my first pregnancy, which ended in a miscarriage. I didn’t care about the gender of the peple involved at the time, because most of my friends are male so I felt comfortable with both genders. Nowadays, I have problems with having a straight male ob/gyn or sonographer for trans-vaginal scans, because of their attitudes and behaviour at the time. These are my personal hangups though and to be honest, I don’t think I would care about the gender or sexuality of the midwife as long as we had a personal connection.

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