Wednesday 16 January 2019

How Dan went from builder to male midwife

One of the very few male midwives in Ireland is setting up a home birth service.

Dan Oakes (34) worked in the construction industry until the experience of witnessing the birth of his first son made him change career.

Now a newly-qualified midwife, he is establishing a home birth service involving midwives in the North East, as well as in Dublin, Wexford and Cork.

His 'Neighbourhood Midwives' service will offer women the choice of giving birth inside a pool of water.


"Giving birth in a pool is such a good way of managing pain and helping labour along," he said.

Dan, born in Alaska, moved to Ireland 10 years ago to live in his father's native Dundalk. He got a job as a project manager for a construction company.

He and his wife Heather's first child Finian was born in their home in Dundalk with the help of a "fantastic" midwife.

"I knew then that I wanted to train to become a midwife. The birth in a pool at home was the most awe-inspiring event of my life," he told the Herald.

To qualify as a midwife, he was present at the birth of large numbers of babies and had to facilitate 40 births to complete his training.

He said he expected he might encounter some expectant mothers who might not have wanted a man to be their midwife.

"I was a little surprised that not one mother objected to me as a man," he said.

He qualified in 2013 and launched 'Neighbourhood Midwives' a few months ago with his midwife colleague Tracy Donegan.

They intend to recruit up to 120 midwives across the country.

He said nearly all health insurance policies cover the costs of home births. Expectant mothers will have the reassurance that no home births can go ahead without the prior approval of a medical doctor.


A significant aspect of the home birthing approach is that mothers are secure in the knowledge that in the event of any complication arising, they will be immediately transferred to an obstetrics unit in their nearest hospital, he said.

He claimed there is mounting evidence that women giving birth to their second and subsequent babies are "safest at home".

All Neighbourhood Midwives are qualified and registered with Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland or the Nursing and Midwifery Council. They all have experience of working in the HSE or the NHS in the UK.

For more information about the home birth service or midwifery posts, contact danoakes@neighbourhoodmidwives.com or at 085-1050161.


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