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All of the letters below seek to address claims and opinions expressed in a recent Weekend Australian magazine article by Nikki Gemmell, questioning why men become obstetricians and gynaecologists. Some letters have been edited for brevity.

28 Jun 2019

Male obstetricians feel for the pain of their patients

As a General Paediatrician in a career spanning over 35 years, I’ve been on the sidelines at almost 3,000 deliveries, most of them at risk. Not only can I support the praise for the dedication of the obstetricians – male and female – but I’d like to put forward an observation. Tensions often arise when a baby is becoming obstructed, and not always, but often enough there develops a conflict whereby female midwives gather and support the woman to work through the pain and accomplish the final stage without intervention. The obstetrician is hovering to do an episiotomy… In this scenario, it is frequently the male O/G who feels deeply for the woman’s pain, and intervenes.

Dr Joe Moloney



Nonsense to suggest men should not be obstetricians

To suggest that by virtue of gender a professional who has endured extensive study, stress and loss of time with their own family and leisure in order to care for others must be in it for the wrong reasons is just ridiculous. No doubt there are both male and female OBs who could perhaps do better, but it is a nonsense to essentially suggest that men should not be OBs.

I was very fortunate to have the care of a wonderful OB who just happened to be a man. I understand this doctor to be incredibly highly regarded particularly in the Nepean western Sydney area. Not only did he show a high level of skill expertise and knowledge in his care of my baby and I, but not once did I feel that he had anything but my best interests at heart. He often expressed views about the impact on women not only of the physical process of pregnancy and childbirth but of the crap women are often put through by ill informed “professionals” and society. Whilst I was certainly made to feel as though I was nothing more than a vessel to produce a child by some in my life, my OB never made me feel this way. I felt nothing but genuine care for my safety and well-being. His inability to experience pregnancy and childbirth himself made absolutely no difference to my complete trust in him, nor should it have. The fact that he was highly skilled and experienced and passionate about his job, good humoured when we needed it, reassuring and empathetic was far more important.

I only hope that wonderful doctors such as mine pay little regard to the nonsense in this article and instead value the comments that have been made in response by the many who value the sacrifices they make in their own lives to provide a high level of skilled and compassionate care to women and their families.

It would be such a shame if attitudes such as in this article caused any of the many wonderful future or current male OBs to become disheartened and in turn cause women to miss the opportunity to be cared for by them.

Lara (surname withheld)



Do your research Nikki

@NikkiGemmell, here's some enlightenment.....
Look at solid data before making such outlandish claims. Then maybe talk to people. Real people doing this job day in and day out. Men and Women who care deeply about what they do and how everyone navigates the process. In a position such as yours, I would have thought this to be an imperative. Alas for your story it is not.

Sue-Anne O’Rourke

Published: 28 Jun 2019