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Midwife or Status Symbol? A Look at the Real Trends

by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor

When we shared the recent
New York Times article “The Midwife as Status Symbol” on our social media channels, many of you had mixed feelings.

Many were delighted that the national newspaper of record was covering midwifery in a positive way and offering up some good information and quotes on why women might choose midwives as their care providers. Some very high-profile celebrity clients talked about the emotional support they’ve gained from midwives, and how midwives helped them achieve an intervention-free childbirth.

On the other hand, some chafed at the description of midwives as “trendy” or “status symbols,” and resented being compared to a new pair of shoes. After all, a status symbol generally refers to a material commodity—not an educated, skilled, human clinician. Nicole Deggins, CNM, wrote a thought-provoking blog post entitled
Dear NYT: I’m Not a Status Symbol… I’m a Midwife voicing this frustration. 

Mairi Breen Rothman, CNM, took a pragmatic view. “Every woman should have the option of a midwife. If supermodels make it trendy and help us get there, that’s great, but it’s what every woman deserves,” she said in
an American Nurses Association blog post. This last point is one upon which we can all agree—as Deggin writes

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.

What are the facts? We’re proud to report that
the proportion of midwife-attended births are at an all-time high in the United States, according to the latest data from the CDC, and that virtually every state saw an increased proportion of midwife-attended births in the time period from 1990 to 2009. We don’t believe this is due to fashion; we believe the increase is driven by the high-quality care and great outcomes that midwives deliver, including lower rates of interventions, higher rates of breastfeeding, and greater client satisfaction.

We’re happy that the elite of Manhattan are seeing midwives, because we’re thrilled when any woman can reap the benefits of evidenced-based, client-centered care. But no one should mistake that care for a passing fad, because midwives are here to stay.

Posted 6/25/2012 4:06:40 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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