Women are being erased from midwifery

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Appearing on the Down to Birth Show podcast in late 2022, home birth Midwife Lindsey Meehleis told the story of a midwife colleague who was invited to speak at a birthing conference.

The organizers asked to review her speech and then proceeded to tell the midwife, “You must replace every single reference to woman, mother, and breastfeeding. You cannot use any of those words.” 

The midwife refused and headed home.

This woman is one of a growing number of midwives pushing back against the social pressure of this new politically-correct Orthodoxy: And they’re overwhelmed by the response, booking clients sharing similar sentiments at a clip they can barely keep up with.

The image of a midwife is a crunchy progressive feminist, one who openly evangelizes about how becoming a mother is the most empowering experience in a woman’s life.

Midwifery inhabits a unique place across the globe, as evidenced by this midwife and her charge in Uzbekistan. Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

They are there to help shepherd that process safely, honoring a woman’s journey towards motherhood.

This is what has made the anti-woman transformation of midwifery over the last several years so deeply disheartening.

Go to the website of any homebirth midwife, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find the words “woman” or “mother” — or any gender-specific language. 

A random example: the website for 10 Moons Midwifery in the Bay Area proclaims “Midwifery care is feminist healthcare” but then goes on to say “Midwifery is person-centered.”

Ina May Gaskin, who is widely considered the “mother of authentic midwifery.” AFP via Getty Images

What kind of person? They never say.

A quick scan of a dozen area options finds that midwife websites are full of information about how the birth provider is “anti-racist” and rife with land acknowledgments.

Language about women being the ones to actually give birth is notably absent. 

In this effort to be more “inclusive,” midwives have also altered their own vocabulary: Women and mothers became generic “people” or “parents” or “birthing folks” to appease the language police worried about offending transgender parents-to-be.

Shannon Staloch of Midwives Bay Area is taking a very different approach to birth – daring to do so even in the heart of the woke capital of the world.

And it’s paying off.

On their website, Midwives Bay Area doesn’t shy away from using the words “mom” and “women” and it’s led to such an explosion of demand that Staloch can barely keep up. 

Trisha Ludwig, a licensed midwife, and co-host of the popular Down to Birth Show echoed Staloch’s experience and told me, “We’re seeing that women are choosing providers based on language first. Does the provider’s website say ‘woman, breastfeeding and mother’ or ‘person, chestfeeding and parent’?”

Another midwife who also freely uses the terms “mom” and “woman” on her website, suspects that her decision to do so is part of the reason why she is fully booked for the next nine months. 

The magic of the midwifery model is you don’t just get someone with medical expertise, but a care provider who ideally also cares about their clients.

This is why the erasure of biological sex from midwifery over the last few years has left countless women without that trusted partner. 

This erasure has real implications, especially in the medical world. 

Ina Mae Gaskin is seen instructing Jen Mayer, right, how to feel the position of a baby during a class in midwifery at The Farm in Summertown, Tenn. ASSOCIATED PRESS
California-based 10 Moons Midwifery is one of many organizations that are erasing women from midwifery. 10 Moons Midwifery

Cynthia Overgard, a childbirth educator and the other co-host of the Down to Birth Show told me, “We can’t improve women’s health when we deny that pregnancy is a women’s health issue in the first place.”

Meanwhile, other female-focused services are also taking a stand against erasing women from their mission, such as the H. 

Erasing femininity from the experience of motherhood isn’t just bad for business and women’s health, it’s a betrayal of the core of midwifery’s unique model of care. 

Unlike physicians in hospitals, midwives are intended to be client-centric and holistic.

“Women are choosing providers based on language first,” says midwife Trish Ludwig. LinkedIn

And yet their very client base — women and mothers — are at the center of a culture war that they didn’t start and (being pregnant) have no place in fighting.

After all, a society that unnecessarily burdens expectant mothers is a society that’s truly lost its marbles. 

The most famous American midwife, Ina May Gaskin, notably said “Ask the woman, she will tell you everything you need to know.”

That is the essence of midwifery: a celebration of the strength of women in the most empowering experience a woman can have. 

An experience only a woman can have. 



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