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Opinion

Is the midwife a status symbol?

Midwifery certainly isn't a trend, but it is getting trendy. Are moms-to-be hoping a midwife will make them hip?

By Jenny Charlesworth

Is the midwife a status symbol? Photo: jfairone/ iStockphoto

While reading The New York Times this week, I came across an odd term: boutique midwifery clinic.

This must be the type of place you visit after ordering a grande, sugar-free, decaf Cinnamon Dolce Latte. A destination for people who “curate” their nurseries with designer wall decals instead of opting to "decorate" the former home-office like so many of us. But if you're after social status, this phrase should be in your vocabulary — or so says The Times in The Midwife as a Status Symbol for the Hip.”

"'The perception of midwives has completely shifted,' says Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of the gynecology division at New York's 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.'”

My gal-pals in Toronto and Vancouver may not be as well-heeled as the moms-to-be in Manhattan writer Danielle Pergament details, but they too have midwives on the mind. Like picking out a bassinet or stroller, shopping around for a midwife is becoming a must for folks with one on the way. Midwifery isn't a trend, but it sure is getting trendy.

It's been on my radar for some time, too. In fact, I would already be sizing up midwives (no, I'm not expecting, but I do have baby on the brain) if I didn't have a C-section in my future. (Having gone through cervical cancer, I’m flagged for a high-risk pregnancy and don’t have the option of natural childbirth.) To read supermodel and mom Christy Turlington's endorsement in The Times piece (“When I met my midwife, her whole approach felt closer to home.”), it’s easy to see why midwifery is making its way further into the mainstream.

Even if I wanted to be one of those women Pergament pokes fun at (the mom-to-be clutching her organic spinach juice in one hand, her midwife's arm in the other), I can’t. Many of the important and personal decisions about delivery are off the table for me post-cancer: I have to give birth in a hospital O.R., there's no chance of doing it drug-free. I may never earn full social kuddos from the Manhattan moms (oh darn!), but there are still ways to involve a midwife in my pregnancy.

And while it's easy to joke about a hoity-toity term like boutique midwifery clinic, I support midwives getting a profile boost — even if it's from parents hoping to get a social boost. The midwife might be the new nanny, but as long as their stock is rising, I have no problem with people jumping on the midwife bandwagon.

Did you use a midwife? Are midwives becoming trendy where you live?

This article was originally published on Jun 20, 2012

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