When Ciaran Villa, The Pregnancy Coachh popped up on our social media feed, we were like, wait whut? A male midwife!? Yep, 27-year-old Irish-born Ciaran is a midwife by training as well as a nurse practitioner who simply loves women, loves assisting births and specializes in making both partners feel comfortable with the experience. So basically this dude is EVERYTHING. We chatted with Ciaran on his role in the delivery room, on being a male in a female’s world and how being a dude in the delivery room just might be to his advantage, from time to time:
OK tell us everything….
When I was 18 I applied to become a midwife. I didn’t get into the program on the medical side, so I went into different areas of study on the health side. I worked in gestational diabetes for two years. I studied the pelvic floor for two years. I studied obesity in pregnancy. I opened my own business at home in Ireland where I’ve done pregnancy coaching for the last seven years. We do mental health programs, physical health programs, and it’s going well. Last year I went back to get my medical degree, so here I am, living in England, on the midwifery journey. It’s super hands-on in terms of delivering babies and supporting moms postpartum.
With this degree, I’m a certified nurse. So on the medical side, I’m caring during labor and postpartum. I’m delivering babies. Did you know male midwives make up less than 1% in the world?
We didn’t, but that sounds about right. So was there a “Aha” moment for you in determining your life plan?
There’s no pinpoint moment I decided that this was what I wanted to do. Since I was 12 or 13, I was caring for my family, giving insulin shots to grandmother, helping her medically. At 17, I made a choice in what I wanted to do. I’ve always been surrounded by women’s health so I decided I wanted to look after a wider range of women, as well as in pregnancy and in hospitals.
What do you love about this work?
The moment I love the most is whenever you see a family leaving together as a family, and you can just see the impact you’ve made on their lives. Husbands are in panic mode and you’re there supporting them, caring for them. I love seeing the changes that take place in these couples when they become moms and dads. I love visiting them in the home and seeing the impact of this change. They can’t express how grateful they are.
Have you encountered any limitations in being a male in this industry?
At the moment, I haven’t come across limitations for me, but in the future it will happen. And I have to be open with that. But, if a female midwife walks in the room, she still may not connect with the patient. Some people may have an issue with my being a man from a religious perspective, or if the mother is a teenager. There are challenges, but things are getting better. People are starting to understand that it’s a professional job, and it’s all going well at the moment.
Are there any benefits to being a male in this industry?
One area where a female midwife has me beat is that she knows how a woman is feeling. All we really are is a bunch of textbooks. I have the knowledge all about a woman, and the knowledge on how we can support them through it, but that’s all I have. But, one bonus as a male is that I can always connect with the partner and that usually relaxes the whole environment from the start. Most men who come in have never experienced it before and usually they’re forgotten about, and it’s all about the woman. So I often support the male, too and let him know the process and what he should be doing. Most men don’t know what to do during labor. The majority are wiping sweat off their wife’s foreheads but she may not want that. There are many other supportive techniques, and as a male, I can help them. It’s a good connection process all around.
A lot of times I can see that a husband or partner is out of depth. I try and support the connection between partner and woman from the moment it starts. Whenever a male feels out of it, I can educate them. People forget to educate them. A lot of dads want to learn the process, terminology, they want to know what position the baby is in. So while I’m doing any sort of exams or medicalized treatment, I speak out loud and talk to them also and break down whatever they don’t understand so they can be part of it and not feel left out.
What do you love about women?
They are absolutely amazing. That’s the top one. Any male who criticizes women for claiming they’re in too much pain or showing off or complaining, they will never understand until they see what happens in that room. Men cannot control or visualize what can happen until they see it. After those nine months, a woman comes out so strong on the other side, it’s unbelievable. If males go play football, they cry over a sore toe and women do this for nine months, they still feed the families, still work and do it all. It’s opened my eyes. I can’t wait to have my own children so I can deliver them.”