Midwifery is arguably one of the most gender-specific professions. However, the number of male midwives has been steadily increasing over the years, and in countries like Australia, though perhaps still considered uncommon, they are not unheard of. In Cambodia, there’s only one (that we know of)!
Seong Kim has worked as a traditional birth attendant in Kandal Village in the Prey Veng Province since 1993, and received TBA training from 2h in 2010. Here’s a snapshot of what it’s like being a male midwife in Cambodia.
Why did you become a midwife?
My mother-in-law was a traditional midwife from 1972 to 1992, and I always went along with my mother-in-law when she went to help a woman deliver her baby. I wanted to help and save the woman and her baby’s life, because I always see many women and babies die, or there are big problems during birth in the village.
What did you do when you saw problems during birth?
I told their family to send them to hospital quickly, but sometimes the pregnant women die along the road because their home was far from hospital and sometimes the problem was so quick.When the women were not seriously ill, I would always treat them with Khmer traditional medicine.
How much do you get paid per birth?
Per birth they pay $1.25 to $5 depending on the situation of the family, because most of them are poor. Sometimes they do not have money, they just give me one chicken or sometimes they give 5kgs of rice.
How many pregnant women did you help deliver babies per month?
Around 40, because I not only help my village but also help the other village, too, and many villagers always call me for help. (Seong Kim’s name is famous in the whole district – around a hundred villages).
What percentage of mothers go to the hospital or health centre to have their baby?
Around 20 to 30%, but most want to have their baby at home because they do not have the money to give to the nurse or doctor. Also distance, lack of transportation and bad roads are problems.
What did you think about the three-day Safe Arrivals training by the 2h Project team?
The 2h Project midwife training was very good and important to me and the other trainees, because it had many important keys to solve problems easier and quickly and I got a lot of very good experience. I will take this experience to help the people in my village and other villages too.