The world of direct-entry midwifery suffers from a significant “funding bias,” a term that describes people’s propensity to emphasize positives and downplay misgivings about the entity that is providing them with money. Midwives make 100% of their income from women who decide to give birth in a nonhospital setting; they are obviously motivated to do everything possible to convince as many people as they can that this is an excellent idea. Midwives at a busy birth center may hit or surpass the six-figure mark during a good year. It is not uncommon for a midwife to earn $2000 or more per birth (after expenses), and some midwives take on 5-6 births on a monthly basis; birth center owners may also take dividends from the business’ profits. My take-home pay during our most profitable year would put many obstetricians to shame, and midwives have no student loans to pay off because our educations are dirt-cheap. (My entire midwifery education ran me $3000 in tuition, and this is not unusual.)
Midwives often accuse doctors of being motivated by money, but midwives are at least as motivated by finances as doctors are. Obstetricians in this country are in demand and not likely missing out on much business from the less than two percent of women seeking nonhospital birth; they don’t have a financial need to convince women to use the hospital. Midwives on the other hand must drum up interest in natural birth and fear of the hospital in order to keep the dollars rolling in. The thing about bias is, people are unaware of it and defensive toward the suggestion. Midwives’ funding bias is something they will never likely examine because no one believes herself to be influenced by money. It is up to the consumer to acknowledge it.
3 thoughts on “Money Talks (Part 20)”
I’m not sure you can apply “midwives have no student loans to pay off” across the board. Most MEAC accredited schools cost upwards of $30,000 and offer financial aid. Most of my classmates at my midwifery school had to take out loans in order to pay for their education.
That is a good point, Andriana. I should have specified that “many” midwives have no student loans to pay off. I know of many popular midwifery study programs that cost around $3000, and I don’t personally know anyone who went the MEAC route and had to take out loans. But those schools do exist, and I’m sure their graduates are often saddled with quite a debt.
Although I can see your point here and do understand where you’re coming from, I agree with Adrianna. I had over $40,000 in student loans from an MEAC accredited school and will be in debt forever. I honestly don’t know any midwives myself who are really legitimately profiting much from working as a midwife. I agree with so much what you’ve said thus far on this blog and it really is a great read, I feel very similar and hope to one day have a chat with you. However, I think that some of these statements regarding money and how much midwives really profit maybe a bit skewed for most midwives. I guess what I am also asking is, is that how you felt when you were a midwife? You seem like a very smart, educated, skilled yet compassionate person. Was your practice heavily influenced by money? How were you able to profit so much, especially in a birth center setting? (Not looking for pointers here, I just know that when I apprenticed in a birth center, they were very busy but completely falling apart financially). Thanks!