Are Midwives the New (Fill in the Blank) Trend?

Are midwives becoming trendy, like juice cleanses and Tom’s shoes? 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. ~DANIELLE PERGAMENT, New York Times

I recently read the above quote in an online New York Times article called “The Midwife Becomes a Fashion Symbol For the Hip.” In it, the author states that more and more celebrities, as well as the financially well-set, are seeking midwives for home and hospital births. Several of the more popular midwifery groups in NYC actually have to turn away clients because their popularity has increased so much recently. And this concerns me.

I don’t want to be trendy. 

I didn’t make the difficult choice to use a midwife because it would look cool. My decision to birth naturally certainly didn’t garner me much support from those who questioned my sanity. And for goodness sakes, there is an alarmingly big difference between picking out a pair of shoes (Toms, as mentioned in the quote) and choosing how to bring a child into the world.

Midwife-supported childbirth is a beautiful, time-honored tradition, but this article has reduced it to being just another fad.

If more people knew that 100 years ago nearly all women used a midwife, would it seem so trendy? Or would it be the norm? We, as a society, have become so confused as to what constitutes a normal birth that hospital, OB/GYN-led births are standard and midwifery care is the newest trend.

My concern is that if midwifery care becomes associated with celebrities and the wealthy that there will be a misconception in society that midwives aren’t for everyone. It is almost laughable to think of midwifery being a choice only for the wealthy and elite. In reality, many midwives offer their services for a fraction of the cost of a hospital and are willing to work out deals for those without health insurance.

My hope is that when choosing your healthcare provider, you look beyond what celebrities are doing or the choices of your friends.

Feel empowered.

You, just like Gisele Bundchen or Christy Turlington, have a right to choose, a choice far more powerful and long-lasting than a pair of canvas shoes. Unlike many other trends, the right to birth how you want,where you want, and with whom you choose, is a “fad” I sincerely hope never fades away.

Kate is decidedly untrendy, and she prefers it that way. When she’s not responding to misguided but well-intentioned New York Times articles, she enjoys exploring off-the-radar neighborhoods and enjoying new experiences with her sweet 15-month-old, Vivi, and husband, Kirk.

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4 thoughts on “Are Midwives the New (Fill in the Blank) Trend?”

  1. I have to admit, I groaned when I heard Gisele used hypnobirthing. Boston/Maine just doesn’t “get” her and I got a few, “You did that too!?” comments.

    On the other hand, I’ve found it refreshing to hear of so many celebrities nursing, and it’s not to get attention in a flashy way, just something they’re doing because they know it’s good. I have to believe that someone out there on Twitter is saying, “If a kickass person like Pink can do it and be proud, why can’t I?”

    Keeping my fingers crossed that these things can be more of a benefit!

    1. I completely agree, and I hope to see more positive press of AP/natural childbirth/breastfeeding, etc. It makes me smile to see photos of breastfeeding celebrities or to hear interviews in which celeb mamas praise AP. I think the “New York Times” article mentioned above could have put a better spin on the topic, i.e., “women across ALL socioeconomic levels are enjoying and benefitting from midwifery services.” Oh well, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed for more positive feedback, right?

  2. I agree. Although I can also see it as “any press is good press” but that does not always apply. I get a lot of interesting comments for choosing an unassisted home birth and the midwife I saw for prenatal care (who is not ‘allowed’ to attend home births due to her insurance policy) was not super stoked about my decision either. But the point you are making, in my experience, has flowed over into my parenting choices. Some of my ‘mainstream’ friends see my choice to carry my baby, sleep with her and nurse as long as she’d like without the use of any ‘baby training’ (I still do not even understand that phrase…) as “trendy”. Because she happened to be born around the time ‘attachment parenting’ has gotten some press, they assume I am following the new fad. It’s kind of annoying. I honestly did not make a conscience choice of a style of parenting…I just follow my instinicts and do what seems to work and make the most sense biologically. Great point though!

    1. I think you’re spot on about why this article was frustrating. You, for instance, probably had set values and beliefs about childbirth and parenting long before the media picked up on these topics. But now that the media has decided to pay attention to some of these methods, it makes you (and I’m really referring to all of us who employ AP/natural childbirth/used a midwife, etc.) look as though you jumped on the mommy bandwagon. Sigh. I understand how that can be annoying. On the bright side, maybe more moms and dads to be will consider some of these alternative options?

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