Ron's gentle touch wins babes, players


RON Hastie is a man who loves football. He also loves delivering babies and helping women breastfeed. Oh, and he used to be a bricklayer.

Ron, 48, is bald and stocky with a grey goatee beard and has travelled a long way from his original labouring trade.

He has been practising midwifery for more than 12 years and says working in what is traditionally considered to be a woman's role does not worry him.

Ron gets a lot of satisfaction from being a midwife.

"I could do this as long as I wanted and may well do. For me it's a career, it's a great job," he said.

Ron's other 'job', as a football trainer for the Tassie Devils football team, provides a welcome release from the intensity of the labour ward.

"I've always loved my footy. I can turn off completely from work and do something I really enjoy as well. Not that I don't enjoy work although some days it's stressful," he said.

Very few of the footballers know of Ron's occupation.

In 1979 Ron travelled overseas, working as a bricklayer and a barman in London and Cape Town before returning to Victoria in 1984.

It was while working as a bricklayer in a hippie commune that Ron encountered home birthing.

In the early 1980s Ron heard a program on the ABC's Radio National about Charles Le Boyer, a Frenchman who spoke of birth as a gentle process and advocated the use of soft lighting and bathing babies as soon as possible after birth.

"Gosh, that makes sense," Ron thought. "Just things you should do anyway."

In 1986 Ron sat an aptitude test for nursing.

"I had no great passion to become a nurse," he says. "I got drunk and flipped a coin, and thought, bugger it, I'll go for it." Ron's application was successful.

He was surprised to find he actually enjoyed the course.

Ron doesn't recall any prejudice against him as a male or as a mature age student during his nursing education.

"It's probably an advantage on both counts. Male, because the way society is set up, males are respected more," he said. "If I ring up and want results on the phone they immediately assume you're a doctor.

"They also know you've done some miles. I was in my mid-30s [as a student] so they know you're not straight out of school so you've got some life skills. I was well in front there."

Ron graduated as a registered nurse in 1990 and married Sue, a teacher, in 1991.

He began midwifery training and became a registered midwife in 1992.

In 1995, after a working holiday in outback Australia, the couple settled in Tasmania.

As a midwife, Ron receives nothing but positive feedback from the women he cares for at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

"It comes from treating people as well as you would like your wife, your sister or your mother treated, which is to be treated well," he said.

"Treated gently, treated with understanding, and treated as an individual."

Midwifery has been good to Ron and, according to his colleagues and many clients in Hobart, Ron has been good for midwifery.,5936,10170650%255E3462,00.html