Trailblazing nurse Stuart Hislop, who became the first Scotsman to practice as a male midwife in 1981, is to retire from his role as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Stirling.
Mr Hislop, who now specialises in teaching adult nursing, started his working life as a nurse before training to become a midwife – a career move that was inspired by caring for a new mum and her premature baby.
Mr Hislop said: “I had been assisting in theatre when I was asked to go and look after a baby delivered by Caesarean section. The baby was in an incubator and as I watched this baby I was transfixed - it was the first time I had been so close to a new life. It was the most magical moment.”
The appointment of a male midwife in the early 1980s caused quite a stir, as Mr Hislop recalled: “It drew a lot of publicity at the time. I was going against some of the prejudices and negativity that existed towards male nurses. To be honest it made me even more determined to prove that I could do the job and do it as well as any female colleague.
“As long as you are looking after your patients well, gender should not be an issue. But back then it was very much a female profession. I would like to think that these days society is much more accepting of male nurses coming into the profession.
“Thankfully, as I had been a nurse for a long time before becoming a midwife, the women I worked with knew I was serious about what I was doing and I was very well accepted.”
Mr Hislop looks back fondly at his time as a midwife: “Programmes like One Born Every Minute have done well to capture the reality of midwifery. It was a fantastic job and I have very happy memories from that time in my career. One night I delivered seven babies – that was an incredible nightshift! It was always an electrifying experience to be part of the birth process.”
His experience informs Stuart’s teaching today: “I always tried to help the mother feel like she was in control. I well remember one particular birth: I was around three-quarters of the way through my course of training when a first-time mum on the ward told me she felt the need to push. Although she had only been in labour a short time when I examined her, the head was already presenting and very soon after she gave birth.
“I was so happy that I had been trusted by the mother to help her. It also made me realise it was very important to listen to the mother as they know their own body. The importance of listening to our patients is something I have tried to pass onto my students.”
Stuart practised as a midwife for six months after qualifying, delivering over 80 babies. In 1983 he moved into higher education.
He said: “I will look back with great satisfaction at what I have achieved throughout my career and the opportunities I have had. It is deeply rewarding being an educator. When you see students forging their careers you are glad to have been a part of their journey. I will miss student contact the most when I go, but I will enjoy spending more time with my wife and two sons.”