What’s One Reason Why Pronatalism Remains So Pervasive? Babies are Big Business
By Laura Carroll
Pronatalism is a set of beliefs about parenthood that has driven society for generations. The beliefs encourage reproduction and exalt the role of parenthood. The historical origins of pronatalism go way back. What people have been influenced to believe about parenthood and reproduction might have served a purpose at one time, but now has outlasted its usefulness. Or, believe it or not, what we have been taught to believe has never been true to begin with.
If this is the case, why does pronatalism remain so pervasive? One reason is because birth and babies are big business. As the recent article in Time magazine, “The 1% Birth” says, the birth business is “worth more than $30 billion a year.”
Recently, the baby business has taken itself to new heights. Take the business of the “luxe” birth. Many hospitals have “VIP” wings with “hotel -like accommodations” and include “limousine labor,” like things such as total hospital room redecoration, birth teams with massage therapists, chefs and more. This is 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. According to the American Academy of Private Physicians, the number of “concierge doctors,” those who don’t take insurance and charge membership fees, has recently increased 46 percent.
Not only do 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. Hospitals across the country that offer “luxe maternity” can charge around $4000 a day, which is more than most standard hospitals charge for the whole kit and caboodle of delivering a baby.
Pronatalism glorifies pregnancy and the raising of children; “lux” birth adds to the glorification by pushing red carpet delivery. And glorification continued to pay off. Business greatly benefits from the perpetuation of pronatalism. Pushing pro-baby, pro-parenthood values creates more demand for products and services that bring big profits to business. Along with government and religious power structures, business works to keep pronatalist norms in place to promote reproductive conformity, so it can continue to gain power.
And “power” is the operative word when it comes to describing what drives the The Baby Matrix. This word sums up the reason why pronatalism remains so pervasive today, despite the fact that assumptions that make it up no longer serve, or were never true in the first place. It is time to take a hard look at pronatalism, why we continue to accept beliefs that ultimately serve others’ agendas, and how this negatively impacts people from all walks of life.
Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World. She is also the author of Families of Two: Interviews With Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice and Finding Fulfillment From the Inside Out. In addition to writing nonfiction books, Laura has worked as a business and litigation psychology consultant, and used her expertise in behavioral sciences, psychology, and communications to advise business, legal, and nonprofit professionals on their communications strategies and goals. She has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Good Morning America and The Early Show, and been a guest on many radio talk shows to discuss social science topics. Laura reviews nonfiction books and more at LiveTrue Books. She lives in San Francisco.