In ancient times, delivering a baby was traditionally a woman’s role but with changing roles in our society, more men are involved in childbirth.
Andre Ndayambaje, a member of the Rwanda Association of Midwives, explains why roles are changing with time.
“Today there is no job only suited for a woman or a man. We should work together and complement each other. At first, it was a challenge to enrol a man in Midwifery school. Right now, I’m proud to be called a midwife,” said Ndayambaje.
“When I joined this profession, I was a little bit shy because of the misconceptions involved. However, the aspect of bringing lives into this world and maybe even saving some, motivated me. Some of my colleagues at campus tried to advise me to change courses but I played deaf considering that I knew what I wanted,” Ndayambaje said.
He also adds that it was so scary finding out the number of women and children that die at birth and this strongly motivated him to take on the career.
“Midwifery is a profession that handles the delivery of babies and in most cases also helps in promoting safe motherhood. Without the people in this profession many mothers and children are at risk of dying during birth thus increasing the maternal mortality rate,” he explains.
He further admits that his days of worrying about what people think of him as a midwife are long gone and what matters now is that he is proud of his job and loves it too.
“I ask the youth especially boys not to be ashamed or scared of midwifery. I encourage them to take it on because we need all the help we can get. Both men and women have to play a big role in promoting safe motherhood. Shying away from it won’t solve the situation,” he emphasizes.
He adds that it’s a man‘s responsibility to take care of a woman during the maternity period.
Ndayambaje is living his childhood dream.
“I remember I was 12 years old when my little sister was born and carrying her in my arms was the best feeling ever. It was at that point that I promised myself to join midwifery,” he says.
He currently works as a Midwife as well as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali.
“It’s really amazing to hold a healthy baby after delivery and watching a mother with joyful tears yearning to cuddle her child. Bringing life into the world is simply breathtaking to witness,” he comments.
Born in Burera District in the Northern Province, the 31-year-old midwife is a son to Joseph Isiraguma and Estherie Urwamenyo. He is the sixth child in a family of eight consisting of two brothers and five sisters.
The out spoken Ndayambaje holds an Advanced Diploma in Midwifery and has had training in neonatal intensive care as well as the paediatric field.
Regarding his first time in the labour ward he says, “It was one of the most trying times in my whole life. During my first year at Kigali Health Institute in 2005, I was afraid of seeing a woman give birth. I trembled. The good thing is that I had experienced colleagues with me. But the trembling stopped the second the baby was placed in my hands crying.”
Just like any other profession, Midwifery has its challenges. Ndayambaje explains some that he faces.
“First of all we need to establish a professional code. Considering it is deemed a woman’s profession, I have been struggling to change people’s attitude. This profession is quite new in Rwanda and a lot of training is required but above all, the community needs to be sensitized on the importance of safe motherhood,” he explains.
Losing a child at birth is one of the most trying and devastating times for a mother. Ndayambaje narrates how he goes about it.
“Being a Jehovah’s Witness has helped me deal with such matters. Besides the fact that I am a male midwife, most patients like me because I am a Christian. Since my kind of work requires counselling, I always read to the patients who have lost a child a scripture from the Bible as a way of comforting them,” he says.
The fact that he was born and raised in a rural area has helped Ndayambaje acknowledge the work done by traditional midwives.
“Traditional midwives save lives but they really need to get more training. In rural areas these midwives are respected and trusted by most of the community and therefore are the best people to encourage pregnant women to go to proper health centres,” he said.
Besides being a lifesaver, he is married to Jovia Umuliza Rwigire, who is also a midwife at Muhima Hospital, Kigali.
“We got married last year and after two years we will have a baby. People confuse weddings with pregnancy. A wedding is the step that prepares you for a family while having a baby is a big project; resources are needed as well as readiness,” Ndayambaje said.
Dish: Ugali and beef
Color: - Khaki
Sport: - Swimming
Quote: - ‘Jehovah’s Kingdom’