Photo via New York Times.

Danielle Pergament recently published a piece in the New York Times about whether or not opting for a midwife is becoming indicative of social status (at least in some pockets of society).

“The perception of midwives has completely shifted,” said Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of the gynecology division at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and a consulting obstetrician for three midwife practices. “It used to be just the hippies who wanted to go to midwives. Now it’s the women in the red-bottom shoes.”

And like any status symbol, a pecking order has emerged. Just as getting your toddler into the right preschool requires social maneuvering, getting into a boutique midwifery clinic has become competitive.

“We constantly have to turn women away,” said Sylvie Blaustein, the founder of Midwifery of Manhattan, a practice on West 58th Street that has its share of well-heeled clients. Opened in 2003, the practice now has six midwives on staff. “Because of the quality of care, we can only deliver about 20 babies a month.”

“It sounds bizarre,” Ms. Blaustein added, “but midwifery has become quote-unquote trendy.”

You can read the entire article here! What do you guys think: is having a midwife for your pregnancy and birth indicative of social status?

Comments on Are midwives status symbols?

  1. I live in San Diego and I see a midwife for prenatal care, am planning a birth center delivery and hired a doula and I don’t like to tell anyone any of it–because all I get is horrible birth stories and how could I do such a thing. Meaning, not see an OB and deliver in the hospital, I guess. (Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that.) So it’s certainly not trendy here, at least among the mid-to-late thirties, fairly hipster crowd I hang around with. It’s my dirty little secret!

    • It’s funny because I want a home birth and I guess I said something in passing about it in some comment somewhere on Facebook. Well, my mom called me up and told me it’s for the best that I don’t mention ANYTHING about home birth to ANYONE because some friends and family had already approached her with concerns about what I was doing. She supports what I want, but she doesn’t want others giving me a hard time. Sigh.

  2. I’m from New Zealand and its the same as the Uk everyone has a midwife unless there are complications and then your midwife transfers you to the hospital care team. You can go down the obyn route but its expensive especially when going with a midwife is fully subsidised but the government (i love nzs medical system). But I think giving birth in NZ is different to america.

  3. our midwives birth 85% of the births that come through our local hospital in oregon. they take our state run medicaid program and have given me excellent education and care through my pregnancy. i feel so lucky to live in a state where midwives are readily available. i have a friend studying to be a doula so it’s like having one without paying for the service!

  4. Well, I had my son in Austin, where being a hippie *is* being trendy (see also: Seattle, Portland, certain parts of New England and California), so my experience may be a little outside the norm; but my midwife definitely made it known (albeit subtly) that I was not her wealthiest client by any stretch. Not that she had to say anything, considering I met a few of her other clients, but anyway. Yes. In my circles, it is trendy to have a midwife.

  5. There appears to be a tendency in society for something to be considered cool and underground, then as soon as it’s above ground and has been picked up as trendy or popular, the people who originally liked it no longer do simply because it is popular. Why criticism midwifery as trendy when I thought we would be excited that it’s popular- isn’t that what we want? Yes! Make it trendy! Get the movie stars and fancy New Yorkers using midwives! That’s how we change the system in society! Congratulations to that clinic in NY who is turning away clients for being so successful.

  6. My hubby is American but I’m Australian…after living in the US for several years and seeing a lot of our friends go through the medical system there and be totally disatissfied with the level of their care at the hands of the OB and nurses, I decided I was going back to Australia to have my babies with my ‘hippie’ midwives as my hubby’s family calls them. In Australia, midwives are standard, they’re free, and they’re top notch. I’m on baby #2 and I’ve never seen a doctor — so long as there are no major complications, I won’t have to either!

  7. In Australia midwives are also standard care in the public system. If you have private health cover you can choose your OB, but your labour will still be assisted by the hospital midwives until it comes time to push and the OB will then appear and catch the baby. I am in a public system which includes almost exclusive midwifery care unless I have higher risk issues, birth in a hospital, assisted by my midwives, and then home visits from day one, which frees up hospital beds sooner and, I think, is a much more holistic way of care than an OB. Your OB is much more a status symbol than the midwives here, because it means you have private cover and you have chosen (and been accepted by) your OB.

  8. Just because rich people “jump on the bandwagon” doesn’t make it trendy. Articles and thinking like this makes me so fuckin pissed. As a former WIC employee, there were many low income, poor and working women who worked with midwives. Articles like this further create invisible divisions. Stupid NYT.

  9. The bit that got me – and I know it’s flippant but – was the last sentence about not having a home birth: “Also my apartment is kind of cluttered,” she added. “I hated the thought of going into labor thinking, I wish I’d thrown out more magazines.”

    Also, a bunch of people have said it already, but it is the normal thing to have a midwife in NZ. I was really confused by the post at first for this reason

  10. When I was pregnant, I was flabergasted to learn that of the many midwives in my area, only ONE participated with my health insurance at the time, which was Oxford United Health Care. The midwife who DID participate had a horrendous track record, and actually had a HIGHER cesarean section rate than the hospital as a whole, which had a 26% rate (lower than national average). I was told that it would cost $8000 for any other midwife to attend my child’s birth, and if she attended the birth, the insurance would not cover my hospital stay or C-Section, should one be necessary. Unfortunately, this has made midwifery in some areas something that is only a pipe dream for those who lack the funds for out of network coverage. The trendiness of midwifery has allowed midwives to be more selective about which insurance providers they participate with, and this has created a seperate but not equal system. The rich get the good doctors, the middle class and lower class, are stuck with doctors who can not provide the same level of care as a midwife.

  11. I don’t think having a midwife is THAT trendy. At least not in my area, and I live in San Diego. I was the only one of 4 ladies I know due this past may like me, who had a midwife (and a homebirth nonetheless).
    Anyone who learned I was having a midwife deliver the baby instead of an OBGYN freaked out. “are you sure she’s qualified?” “How safe is that?” “How much experience does she have?” “Why on earth would you choose a midwife over a DOCTOR?!” “A midwife to deliver your baby? Wow you’re a brave and trusting person.” Those were just a few of the responses I got.
    Plus, it was much cheaper to pay out of pocket for the midwife, than the co-payment for a hospital birth with my insurance.

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