David Loshbaugh is Commander in the United States Navy serving in an elite unit. One of 30 active duty midwives in the ranks, Loshbaugh serves his country every day — by delivering babies.
As a term, midwife came from old English, meaning “with woman,” though the reference is to the patient as opposed to the gender of the practitioner. Even so, men only make up about .63 percent of Certified Nurse Midwives nationwide, a tiny group comprised of about 12,000 people. But midwifery work is becoming more mainstream.
Across the country, delivery by a midwife is up 152 percent since 1989, when data was first collected on the subject. And today, over 88 percent of midwife-led births occur in a hospital setting. In 2015, more than 338,000 babies were delivered under midwife care.
“I think for such a long time in medicine, we have dictated to patients what they're supposed to do,” Commander Loshbaugh said. “With midwifery, we're able to give people the necessary education to make their own decisions, and to empower them to make their own decisions."
VICE News followed Commander Loshbaugh through his midwife duties, where he splits his time between clinic hours, group education sessions, pre-natal visits, and well-woman checks.
This segment originally aired December 11, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.