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August 23, 2011

{My Thoughts} The Business of Being Born

I woke up today to a friend posting a question on FB about the documentary "The Business of being Born". This is a documentary by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein regarding the business surrounding births in the United States.

So my response to her FB post about the documentary and what people's thoughts were was: " I have. For me it was informative and gave me a reason to do my own research deeper into our birthing options. I asked my OB @ something only to realize that in the birthing room, he'd do what he felt was appropriate and would accommodate me "within reason" (his words). So now we are on a few waitlist for midwives/birthing center. I think the overall thing I learned from that video was - Be informed. Do your own research. Figure out what you want. Be flexible, your baby may have other plans. Do what's ultimately best for baby. But its up to you to know your options. :)"

I mean, you have to keep it concise on FB, right? And that was pretty long. So i figured I may expand my thoughts on a post about the documentary.

A neighbor introduced me to the My Best Birth site, which is the site connected with the documentary. I perused a little. I watched Cindy Crawford's webisode where she discusses her own experience with home birth. And I was intrigued. I wanted to learn more about this thing that seemed so foreign to me - birthing OUTSIDE of a hospital. I mean, why? Why do people do it? We don't live in some third world country! We have technology and trained surgeons and doctors, so why not use them?!

When I first got pregnant, i was asked "well you are gonna do the epidural, right?" and answered "well of course!" without much thought into the statement. All of my family and friends have done what is considered the norm now - birthing in a hospital, using interventions and just following along whatever the OB said to do. I never really thought there was any other option. And they all had beautiful healthy children. So it obviously isn't a wrong choice. But it was a choice.  And once I realized that there were birthing choices, and that I really didn't know what my options were and was haphazardly just saying i was doing things b/c it was the only thing I knew people did, I KNEW i had to do my own research.

And for me, that is what The Business of Being Born taught me. The documentary throws out shocking figures about the US infant mortality rate and c-section rates - and I admit, yes I was shocked. But unless I did my own research, I was simply taking their word for it. So i decided "let's hold off on any decisions, talk to friends and families about their experiences, read some more about this and try to make our right choice." And that's where we are.

So while I admit I've made some decisions, others are still being made because there is so much that goes on with the act of labor and birthing and bringing someone special into this world. But i'm grateful I watched the documentary b/c now I know that each choice we make during this pregnancy, the labor, the birth and our child's lives needs to be done b/c we think its best for our child and not b/c its just what everybody around us is doing. And that definitely does not mean what everybody around us is doing is wrong, b/c it isn't. It just means, we need to be well informed parents. I feel we all have the same goal - do what is best for our child.

Everybody parents differently so why is birth any different. And we all do what we think is in the best interest of our child. And all of my friends and family, regardless of the type of birth experience have brought beautiful, healthy strong children into this world - which is the ultimate goal. But I do think that it is important to know you have options. I didn't know that we have options until I saw this documentary and it was eye-opening to realize how many of us don't know and why is it that we don't know!

So would i suggest this documentary? YES!
Would I say it could change your mind? Absolutely it may, but it may not as well. But i say the only way to know would be to watch it for yourself.

SIDENOTE: While i know the subject of parenting, birthing, labor and etc is a very personal one, I hope nobody who reads this feels defensive. It has been my experience that while talking about births in vs. out of hospitals can stir up a lot of emotions, even when it is not intended to be a critical debate. So, i hope my point is taken (as well as Ricki Lake's which she repeatedly has said in various interviews)... this is not a pro-home /birth center post or an anti-hospital post - this is a post to encourage choices and to celebrate the fact that we do have options and we can make our own personal decisions.

So have you seen the documentary? What did you think?


  1. I haven't seen the documentary, but I've read articles about this issue and can see both sides. On the one hand, I feel that a trained doctor should know best how to handle any unexpected situations and make judgement calls, but then I've also heard about those who didn't give the parents any input throughout the process. I think working together in a true partnership is always best, but I know that sadly isn't always the case.

  2. i saw this movie and made eugene watch it too. it's a good perspective huh? i was open to not having an epidural but my pain was too intense so when the contractions started it wasn't even an option for me!

    i didn't want pitocin but they pushed it on me but i was able to stall them a little. in the end, i was open to everything as long as the baby came out healthy.

    my team of caregivers tried everything they could to deliver naturally when baby was having a hard time during labor and those measures worked. i have another friend where it didn't work and she ended up getting an emergency C-section but it turned out for the best since the cord was wrapped around her baby's head 4x.

    i also know a friend who's doctor didn't want to wait and as soon as she showed up wanted to do a C-section to get it over with. now that's something you want to avoid. i think most hospitals should be more sensitive to your birth plan. but my advice would be to have an open mind. it's ok if you end up having a C, ok if you end up with or without an epidural. never know what will happen during labor...

  3. I haven't seen the documentary, but I wish I had. I really enjoyed the book 'Birth: the surprising history of how we are born' by Tina Cassidy. It was amazing to read how birthing practices have changed over time, and I think it helped me realize just that there are options out there, and the Choice is ours to make. I had a midwife deliver Clayton at a hospital, and for the most part was very pleased with how things went. If you lived up here I'd totally recommend the midwife group; I had found them through friends who were very pleased with their experience. I found that talking to people about their experiences was really the most helpful research I did- everyone loves to share their birth stories! As for a birth plan, my only plan was to not be bound to 'a plan'. Since I'd never given birth before, I really didn't know what to expect and didn't want to rule out one thing or another. I had thought that I wouldn't get an epidural, but quickly realized that, ummm, birthing is Painful! and so did get the epidural. My midwife was completely supportive of taking things step by step, and letting me make decisions as we went along, depending on how I was feeling. If you ever want all the juicy details, I'd be happy to oblige ;-)


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