Meet McMaster’s first male midwife

Men are attracted to obstetrics, so why not midwifery?

When Otis Kryzanauskas was four years old, he didn’t want to be an astronaut, a police officer or a firefighter.

After witnessing his younger brother’s birth at home — and cutting the cord — he decided he would one day be a midwife.

Next spring, he’ll be the first male graduate of the Bachelor of Midwifery program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

Kryzanauskas, who has participated in almost 100 births already, believes that he may be the first male midwife to graduate anywhere in Canada — ever.

Why are there so few men in this fast-growing field?

Midwives provide primary care to women and their babies during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period. According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, midwives spend an average of 20 to 30 minutes more per appointment with their patients than other medical professionals do. That could explain why demand for midwifery services is increasing. Rare two decades ago, over the course of 2010, there were 14,000 midwife-attended births in Canada.

That’s thanks to a growing army of professionals. The number of registered midwives in Canada grew from 207 in 1997 to more than 626 in 2006. There are approximately 850 today.

The Ontario Midwifery Education Program at McMaster, the oldest in Canada, started in 1993. Outside of the Ontario program (which also has students at Laurentian University and Ryerson University), there are programs at the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, the University of British Columbia, the University College of the North and Mount Royal University in Calgary.

So why is the field growing without attracting any men? It’s not like there aren’t male obstetricians.

Eileen Hutton, the Assistant Dean of the Midwifery at McMaster, thinks part of the problem is the name. “People hear the name midwife and think it has to do with the practitioner,” she says. The ‘wife’ in ‘midwife’ actually refers to the patient. For whatever reason, male midwives are common in the Netherlands and U.K., she says.

Either way, Hutton argues that gender is “irrelevant.”  Most women only care that their midwife knows what he or she is doing.

Kryzanauskas reports that being a male isn’t a problem for patients and he hopes more males will consider the profession. “Come on and apply,” he says. “The field is wide open.”

Meet McMaster’s first male midwife

  1. It’s so heartening to see a bright, talented young man go after his dreams. Way to go, Otis! :)

  2. I agree with Andrea! My second birth was with a (female) midwife, but I would think that a man could just as well had done the job. No one in their right mind would question women plumbers of brain surgeons. Why not a male midwife? Way to go!

  3. @elizabeth. Would you agree if someone said that birth is not a mechanical process like plumbing or brain surgery? In my view Birth is about human relationships. It involves emotions, feelings, sense and intuition. Much of these are hormonal which are functions of biochemistry. Plumbing and brain surgery are not relevant examples in this case.

    I would rather compare it to another human relationships thing, like mothering.

    Can a human male adequately fulfil the role of a mother? What do you think of 2 males raising your child? Can a male who has not given birth to your child, do as good a job as you at raising your child? What do you think? Can a man, who has not experienced all of the biological and hormonal changes you have (when u went through birth), can he do as good a job as you?

    I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have the same hormonal balance as a woman and there are certain tasks that a woman can do far far far better than I could ever do. Due to my biological limitations I simply an unable to do these things.

    While I no doubt that men can be extremely compassionate individuals, biologically speaking we are simply limited. This is why I wish Otis well and think he will do great.. at the mechanical and compassionate parts of the birth process. For the empathy part and maternal presence however, we will have to rely on Doula’s.

  4. Way to go, Otis! Otis helped deliver my son, and saved my butt by also grabbing the camera on the way out of the house when our home-birth turned into a hospital one. I owe him bigtime!

  5. @yasir – You didn’t ask me, but to answer some of your questions, I see absolutely no issue with two homosexual men adopting a child. I see no reason, biochemical or otherwise, why two men (or one man, or two women, etc) can’t raise a healthy, happy child. Also, it seems to me that you don’t need a vagina to love …

    Back to the real issue here – just like males can go into obstetrics and gynecology, men should be able to become midwives, if that is their calling. Good job, Otis, and best of luck.

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