A recent article in TIME magazine, “The 1% Birth. Why baby Beyonces are little profit center for hospitals” struck me as an example of the power of pronatalism. Why? Birth is big business…and particularly “luxe” birth.
Get this. As the article says, the birth business is “worth more than $30 billion a year”–and “limousine labor,” that includes things such as total room redecoration, birth teams with massage therapists, chefs and more are not just for the Beyonce celebrity births. The 1% likes the first class treatment too, says Ellie Miller, a co-founder of Ellie & Melissa Baby Planners.
Many hospitals have “VIP” wings with “hotel -like accommodations.” And according to the American Academy of Private Physicians, the number of “concierge doctors,” those who don’t take insurance and charge membership fees, has increased 46% in the last 18 months.
Not only does all the baby bump media make getting pregnant cool, the luxury birth business ups the ante to the rich and famous way to give birth to your baby. Better save your money though. Hospitals across the country who offer “luxe maternity” have everything from hard wood floors, a 24/7 personal aide, and other kinds of posh hotel amenities, and can charge around $4000 a day, which is more than most standard hospitals charge for the whole kit and kaboodle of delivering a baby thing, Time says.
Pronatalism glorifies pregnancy and the raising of children; this kind of thing adds to the glorification by pushing red carpet delivery. And the bigger this business gets, the cooler luxury delivery will be, no matter if you can afford it or not.
This kind of thing makes hospitals profit centers. Well, I guess they largely already are, the way our health care system in the States is designed. But this takes it to a new level–the fusion of high end hotel with delivery room, and all the products and services related to each of them. And the more profit we see, the more powerful all that is pro-baby continues to be.
What have you seen out there regarding the high end birth business?
My wife has had training as a midwife. (Maybe ironic for a childfree couple, maybe not.) I can tell you that midwifery is generally a much cheaper option, with usually a greater attention to personal care, than a stay at a hospital. There’s no reason to treat pregnancy as a medical problem or birth as a medical procedure. Pregnancy may come with medical issues, but it is not inherently a medical problem.
Clearly there is the promise of convenience and luxury in a hotel/hospital. Heck, you can even schedule a C-section months in advance to align with your horoscope and/or touring schedule.
And, some of the most FANATICAL pronatalists are midwives and advocates for natural childbirth. The people who give birth to 12 kids in a row are actually more likely to see a midwife and have their babies at home. Hospitals are not the only culprits. They just have more money.
I suspect mainstream medicine has done more to scare women about childbirth than to promote it.
I usually really like your comments. However, no one is going to convince me that passing something the size of a watermellon through a tiny hole in my body is not a “medical problem”. I feel the fact that society views pregnancy and childbirth as no big deal is a major reason anti-abortionists have gained so much ground and why they’re always asking “Why can’t she JUST put it up for adoption?”
I see your point. I wasn’t suggesting that birth was no big deal. Not at all. It’s a huge ordeal. What I’m saying is that it’s not automatically something that requires intervention by medical experts in a hospital. Just because something is ridiculously painful doesn’t mean that therefore doctors need to rescue the person. After all, hospitals send people with kidney stones home to pass the stones on their own, like it’s just a fact of life. Hospitals tend to take steps that make the hospitals have to intervene even more — epidural slows down labor, so other drugs speed it up, which makes it more likely a C-section will be necessary. Hospitals make birth safer and increase problems at the same time.
I feel like this is something that would normally annoy me – but part of me thinks, “Hey, if you want to blow even MORE money on having kids, knock yourself out!” Us Childfree will just continue to save our money for nice vacations and early retirement. 🙂