Dear NYT: I’m Not a Status Symbol… I’m a Midwife

Last Friday, I received a tweet with a link to That NY Times article… you know the one… the one suggesting midwife deliveries are up because it’s “trendy.”  I skimmed the article quickly… gave out a small sigh of annoyance…  thought of writing a blog about it… decided against it… and went about my evening duties (I was busy finishing my 2010 AND 2011 personal income taxes and well……  that’s all I have to say about that LOL)

Then on Saturday, over on facebook, my friend Jill at The Unnecesarean posted the article with a question:  “The second question is just for the midwives here. How do you feel about being defined as a “status symbol for the hip?”  I scrolled down, reading through the many comments and began to type one of my own. It quickly turned into the beginnings of a blog post and so I deleted the comment and here I am a few days later… back where I started with a sigh of annoyance.

The NY Times article asks the question:  “Are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes?” HUH?? *scratches head* Likes Juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes? Side bar: I have NO idea what or who Tom’s shoes are but I can assure you… pregnancy, childbirth, and midwives are NOTHING like them.

And then the article immediately answers its own question:  “It seems that way, at least among certain well-dressed pockets of New York society, where midwifery is no longer seen as a weird, fringe practice favored by crunchy types, but as an enlightened, more natural choice for the famous and fashionable.”  Huh?? *side eye*

So here’s my answer to the question posted on FB…

I really don’t like it when I read things that make midwifery seem elitist; Articles such as this one that create the image of midwifery as something only for “THEM.”  This is not a new phenomenon. First, as this article points out, the rumor was/is… midwives were/are only for the hippies and crunchy types.  Now this article wants you to believe midwifery is no longer just for them (the hippies) it’s also now for THEM:  the rich and famous and fashionable types who wear Tom Shoes and who apparently want to be up on the newest “baby trend.”   This type of writing and thinking is not only annoying, its detrimental as it creates a mental barrier to midwifery for many women who can benefit most from the care of midwives.

The reality is…. Midwifery is best for ALL women.  Even “high risk” women can benefit greatly from midwifery care.  In my opinion, midwifery care should be the golden standard and midwives the required entry point for prenatal and birth care in this country.  Yes, we are seeing an increasing number of women choosing midwives.  This is something we should celebrate.  When we do, instead of calling the rise in midwifery a trend of the rich and fashionable, it would better serve midwifery and women if writers looked at the facts.  Facts BTW that women are learning and FACTS that women are using to make better and more informed choices for themselves and their families.

Fact - Women choose midwives because midwives provide more compassionate holistic care. Midwives decrease interventions and have lower cesarean section rates.  Midwives have longer appointment times and take care of families and communities not just pregnancies.  Midwives are most often women themselves and provide choices as partners not as dictators in pregnancy care. Midwives will be with you in labor cause that’s what we are and what we do… we are “With Woman.”

A mother quoted in the NY Times article said “When you go to a doctor, you’re left alone a lot. You don’t have someone sitting there, looking you in the eye, getting you through it. When I thought about what I wanted for my child and how I wanted to have my child, every sign pointed to going to a midwife.”  Now that’s a direct quote and I see nothing there that talked about fashionable trends, famous people or status symbols… did you?  Ummmmmmm right… u didn’t…. so where are these writers getting this foolishness from??

I do believe it’s important for midwifery to be written about in a positive light and over all… this article is positive.   We have to demand however that articles in these publications focus on FACTS… on better perinatal outcomes, costs savings, increased breastfeeding, decreased litigation, better relationships etc.   American women are not stupid and certainly the NY Times readership is far from unlearned.  It’s a shame that the NY Times felt a need to take midwifery and “dumb it down.”

The fact that this article was featured in the “Fashion and Style Section” says it all.  It certainly explains why they felt it was reasonable to write an article comparing the important work we do,  to something “Hip and trendy” like SHOES *BIG Eye roll*

I am NOT a status symbol… I am NOT a trend… I am a midwife with a goal to help women #BirthSomethingBeautiful….

So… I have said my piece… What did you think about that article??

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12 responses to “Dear NYT: I’m Not a Status Symbol… I’m a Midwife

  1. I wish midwife care were truly for all women. I’m 24 weeks pregnant and an insulin-dependent diabetic (have been for years). No midwife would take me, no matter how much I begged. We have a long way to go here in America.

  2. Unfortunately midwives aren\’t available to all women. Living in a small city, we have no birth centers, no midwives, and the nearest doula is an hour away. We have two hospitals to choose from, neither of which offer midwife support as an option. So the idea of having the choice of a midwife does seem unattainable, something only the ”city folks” get to experience.

  3. Two problems I can see: 1. If midwifery is for the hip and trendy, then it should be exclusive and almost intangible to ordinary people. So what about all the low-income women who many midwives serve (especially hospital-based midwives)? I think the last thing those women are thinking about is being hip and trendy while getting prenatal care. Some of these women do not even select midwives. The “system” chooses it for them.

    2. OB-Gyns were once hip and trendy. That’s how hospital birth got a leg up: from the White women colluding with their male counterparts on the domain of birth.

  4. People are so ignorant.. They should praise this generation of women for becoming even more aware. If I ever have a baby, this will be THE ONLY way and no hospitals.

  5. I hadn’t thought of it that way: it essentially casts women’s rational, evidence-based decision making as being wooed by something fashionable.

  6. Right on! I am ashamed for people that trivialize childbirth choices… as a doula I can say that women are deeply affected by the experiences they have in birth, no matter their socioeconomic situation. To infer that people choose midwifery care as a status symbol is disrespectful indeed. I appreciate all the wonderful midwives we have in Rhode Island, who are working to improve access to home birth and quality hospital birth. Thank you for taking the time to write this post!

    • Thanks so much for reading and commenting and for the work you do to help women. I’m so happy this post resonnated with so many people. I was just basically annoyed and felt like I had to say SOMETHING… ya know :-)

  7. Wonderfully written, it is not a fasion, midwifes: a must in every delivery.

  8. Perhaps the writer had to “dumb it down” with the “trendy” spin and put it in the fashion and style section in order to get it published. Perhaps a sly and sneaky way of slipping it in?
    Sad if that’s how it needed to be presented in order to get it published.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing :) I dont even think they were that interested in sneaking it in for publshing. The NYT has published many article on birt etc. This was just a new spin for them and a not so great way to celebrate the rise in the use of Midwives IMO

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