The Unnoticed Merits of Having a Midwife During Pregnancy
In the classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which takes place in early-20th-century New York, a midwife attends the birth of the desperately poor Francie Nolan. Later, Francie's aunt insists on having a doctor at her birth, evidence that she's moving up the economic ladder.
But as a recent New York Times piece suggests, it seems midwives are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, becoming "a status symbol" for the "hip." Choosing to deliver with midwives present, the article claims, 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," including for high-profile moms such as and Gisele
Well, in the United States, anyway. In other developed countries, being attended by a midwife is thoroughly ordinary. Four years ago, I gave birth to my second son at Forth Park Maternity Hospital in Scotland, with a midwife. In the UK, doctors typically attend only births that are considered "high-risk," and whereas I'd been classified as "high-risk" with my first pregnancy in the States, in the UK, practitioners are much slower to use that label.
The Times article seemed to assume that birthing with a midwife is somehow inferior—for why else would it be newsworthy that rich and famous women are choosing midwifery? It betrayed a certain cultural prejudice against midwives that's uniquely American. When U.S. doctors entered birthing rooms in the 19th century, it was with suspicion of midwives, ...1