The Business of Being Born

The Business of Being Born is a documentary produced by Ricki Lake, who had a hospital birth with her first baby, and then a home birth with her second. It is filmed by Abby Epstein, who does an excellent job.

Just as an intro, in our country, in 1900, 95% of births were done at home. In 1938, about half of that were done at home. 1955 to now, it is less than 1%. In other first world countries, home births constitute anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of all births.

Why is ours so low?

In this film, they try to find out why birthing with a midwife, whether at a birthing center or at home is not done in this country.

In the beginning, they have a lot of people and ask them if they would consider using a midwife for labor.

“I always think of it as having a baby in a barn somewhere.”
“It’s done, it’s surgery. 1, 2, 3.”
“It is feminine machoism, you push a baby stroller three months later and say I did it naturally, it truly doesn’t matter if you did it or not.” – This one is one of the main male doctors they ask questions to throughout the movie. His opinion just infuriates me, considering his stance on natural birth and what that has to mean to his patients.

In New York, they have what is now called “Designer Birth.” You schedule your cesarean then you have a tummy tuck since they are already in there. Whoever thought this was absolutely nuts.

One of the reasons doctors site for their high cesarean rates and why our country has such high medical interventions and such is that we have more high risk women in this country. How would you even measure that? How many women have a cesarean? How many you have done? What the labors are like?

One problem with our country is doctors rarely ever see a truly natural childbirth. With no interventions, no pain meds, no EFM, a woman leaving within a couple hours after the birth, just a woman doing what her body knows what to do.

Even if you go to the hospital with a pain free birth, you still have to follow the hospital’s policy on everything. You might not be able to stay with your baby the whole time. They might give your baby formula while you sleep, even if you want to nurse. So many things could happen, and it might not be the completely natural birth you intended.

A woman will always remember how she felt at her birth. It is not a place to be rescued. A woman needs to face her darkest moment so she can lay claim to it after. It is an empowering moment for a woman, that only she can experience. It is the only thing women can say is their own.

In the movie, they go through the history of births in hospitals. The ‘Twilight Sleep’ period (post to come tomorrow), xrays in the 30s that caused cancer in the babies, Thalidomide that caused babies to be born with missing limbs, cytotec and misoprostol that caused uterine rupture by the hundreds in the 1990s. It is amazing to see how medicine has advanced, yet held us back at the same time.

In the 1970s, Midwives were reborn with the hippy movement. They didn’t want the government telling them what to do and how they were going to birth their babies. So, they learned how to do their own. Ina May Gaskin is one of the very first midwives reintroduced into this country.

On the Farm, the 1st cesarean section was birth number 187. The second cesarean wasn’t until birth number 324. In a time when births by cesarean were 1 in 4, these numbers are amazing. Never again will I make fun of the hippies.

In our country, a cesarean is the most common major surgery for women. It is doctor friendly. When labors are an average of 12 hours, a 20 minute cesarean is pretty nice. The most common cesarean time is 4 pm and 10 pm. Right before dinner, so the doctor can get home be with his family and right before bed so the doctor doesn’t have to stay up all night with a laboring woman.

With the malpractice in this country skyrocketing from people suing their doctors, no one can fault a doctor if you section you to save your baby.

Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) has had 3 cesarean sections, each scheduled around her husband’s soccer schedule. She began the “Too Posh To Push” movement that has now caught on completely in Hollywood and in this country. People schedule their cesareans to cut down on “stress”, so you know when you’re due, and because you don’t want to lose control in your labor and have to push a baby out yourself. It is absolute lunacy.

Because of how much surgery there is in this country anyway, a cesarean isn’t that scary anymore. People go in to get lypo, tummy tucks, breast implants, face lifts, everything that can be done to them to make them look younger. Why not have a cesarean section when everything else is so easy and you can get “back to your figure” sooner?

Most people in this country spend more time researching a new car, a new camera, or a stereo system than their birth options. How sad is it when people listen completely to what their doctors have to say without looking things up themselves? There are always two sides to an argument. Why not look it up and get to know the benefits and risks of procedures and what you actually WANT in your labor? You might find something interesting!

When they started talking about homebirth, the doctors they were interviewing were completely clueless. None of them have ever witnessed a homebirth with a qualified midwife and think it is absolute lunacy. My favorite quote on it was, “You don’t have to wear a seatbelt in my car because I’m a safe driver.” He compared this to having a homebirth! I laughed pretty hard when he said it, but then I thought about it.

How many people back out on wanting a home birth because someone says they aren’t safe? In the news, do you ever hear of someone having a successful home birth, or do you always hear about how the woman was rushed to the hospital and saved because of an inexperience midwife?

In labor, every woman ends up at a rock and a hard place. The rock is that it hurts to push, but the hard place is that you have to stay pregnant and in labor forever if you don’t. What woman wouldn’t find out more about herself if she was placed in this position? You have to do this for you, and if you make it through, you feel empowered and know that you can do anything. Labor doesn’t need to be numbed, it needs to be experienced. You can’t have the bliss of holding your new baby in your arms and having that natural hormonal high without experiencing the pain.

Throughout the entire movie, my favorite line was “reach down and take your baby.” How great would that be! You get to birth in the position that your body wants you to, and you get to pull your baby out! You get to truly experience your labor and get to hold and cuddle your baby before the cord is even cut! I want that experience of someone telling me to take my baby. It just sounds empowering!

This movie is absolutely amazing. I have seen it twice, and everytime seeing the births makes me cry. A woman having her baby in a tub, a woman squatting on the floor of her apartment, a woman with her family around her encouraging her, and a woman leaning on a bed and taking her baby from between her legs.

You CAN birth naturally (got this from an awesome blog I read). And when you do, it is like no other experience you can ever describe. You aren’t just high on love and happiness, you actually did something less than 10 percent of our country does! How great would that be!!

I know I didn’t do the movie justice, so you just need to rent it and watch it. It was a great story about birth. Absolutely amazing.


One Response

  1. My sis lived in London for a while and heard TONS about the “too posh to push” stuff. It’s just crazy how many people are willing to suffer needlessly with major surgery.

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