October 24, 2007

This Business Of Being Born

Last night I had the privilege of viewing a private screening of the new documentary film The Business Of Being Born, directed by Abby Epstein and executive produced by Ricki Lake.

I had just finished reading Tina Cassidy's book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born and was even more convinced that my next baby will be born at home. So, going to this movie had me excited and eager to learn even more about birth in American hospitals, birth centers, and homes.

It's shocking, the misconceptions and misinformation that Americans (especially women) have about the labor and birth of a child. Many people view childbirth as a life-threatening medical emergency when really it was intended to be natural and beautiful with little need for any interventions.

I had Gray in the hospital completely natural (aside from the fact it was in a hospital)
with no interventions, no inductions, drugs, etc. This was my third birth and first one that I did completely naturally. It was also my most peaceful and most comfortable. I did have a birth plan, but I also think that part of the reason everything went so smoothly was because the doctor wasn't there, and didn't make it on time. I moved around and labored in positions that I felt my body was telling me to do. I refused to have an IV inserted or to be hooked up to the fetal monitor. Too often women are hooked up to the monitors and IVs and thus stuck in one position lying on the bed. And what worse position to deliver a baby than lying flat on your back!

In the film, it is demonstrated how much smaller the pelvic opening is when lying flat on your back with legs in stirrups. But stand, squat, or get on all fours and it opens up, allowing for the baby to move through without much need for pushing at all!

BUT- having the patient lie flat on their back with legs in stirrups is much better for the doctor's position. And you think that pain relief is just about making you feel better? The doctors and nurses consider it a better way to manage you as the patient, too. Ahem.

Many things done during hospital births have helped and saved lives- yes. But should everything be so strict and standard for every single birth? Are we losing sight of God's design in all of this?

There are so many helpful, factual statistics in this movie that I think anyone would find eye opening. Having a midwife and doula present- in hospital, birth center, or home- statistically will do wonders for your labor and delivery. Your chances of having a c-section go up as soon as you walk through those hospital doors. Should everyone stop having babies in a hospital? I am not saying that. But, women need to be informed when making their choices and then stand up for those choices in order to have the birth story they deserve.

This movie is not specifically about home birth. It's about birth in America and how far off track we have become.

When I say that our next baby will be born at home, I expect to hear the obvious concerns that it's not safe! But I know the truth. I think you should, too.

I wanted to add that
I don't think anyone should be judged for where they choose to birth their baby. I think there is a lot of misinformation and assumptions about just what those choices are regarding labor and childbirth, and this movie is a wealth of information and fact for that whole spectrum.

Click here to see if there is a screening near you, and please go if you can!

Cross posted at The Chicago Moms Blog.


  1. I really want to see this show. I'm hoping to have my next baby at home to. My first was an unnecessary c/s, my second a hospital vbac with few interventions and no meds, and hopefully by the time we have another I can talk Hubby into homebirth.

  2. Wow-that sounds a lot like the movie I'm waiting to see called Pregnant in America. I think there is going to be a screening of the Riki Lake one in my area in Nov. to support a new birthing center. I'll have to check it out.

  3. I saw that book at Borders the other day and made a mental note to get it next time I am there. Now I think I may have to schedule an emergency trip to Borders!
    I've been interested in a home birth and think my next will likely be one.

  4. Ah so there WILL be a next baby :)

    Sounds like an interesting movie...

    A lot of good information here. Although I don't have children yet, I'm not so sure I can be as strong and do those all-natural births or anything like that. I'm a baby when it comes to menstrual cramps, I can't imagine trying to give birth without painkilers!

  5. Interesting. I will keep that in mind if I get a next time!

  6. As I move through my doula certifications I learn more and more and more and the hospital "status quo" just makes me so very angry and sad...

  7. I am so happy to find a post on this topic. I think I may have to make a post linking back to your post about this. (my blog is many parenting humor and stories)

    My first child was born in the hospital with no drugs or inductions. I am lucky for that because my body not progressed as it did I likely, like other mothers, would have been given something to "speed it along"
    I managed to for go the pain medication because I was stuck in my mind with wanting to do it natural, even though I was the young age of 19! The nurse continually offered and insisted that labor was going to get harder and was I certain "I did not want something for the pain?"

    I had the IV and the monitor, and a nurse constantly checking physically for my progression. This is a painful unneeded check they do to all women.

    I think that nothing is right for everyone. There is no one best way. I also believe it is an immediate "treatment" you receive when in the hospital for a birth. It is treated as a procedure. Not a process nor adventure, nor experience.

    Because the monitoring is done mainy by machines, in hospitals, then the staff checks what the machines are saying, the whole experience is rather clinical and impersonal.

    My second child was born at a birth center. I thought about a home birth, but I have pets and I did not want to have to make provisions or clean up or whatever. The birthcenter seemed like a great alternative. At first my husband was a little frightened by the idea. Simply put, he had a lot of misinformation. Thought it to be, in his words "some kind of granola munching, tree hugging, wheat head kind of idea" (he is a bit of a cynic) Anyhow once educated and aware of the statistics and benefits of an "out of hospital birth" his song changed. The idea of a personal experience, privacy, and minimal interference w/ the birth process seemed right to him.
    (cynical yes, dumb no)

    Anyhow, our daughter was born healthy, calmly, and patiently. I felt so empowered and inspired by the whole moment. I still do.

    Out of hospital birth may not be best for everyone, but I do think its best for everyone to get the right information. There is a lot of comfort in being in control of your birth. Being able to move about, change positions, or even birth in a tub. (as I did with my daughter)

    We would do it the same way again. (If we are crazy enough to have another baby!)

    I hope my post is not too long.
    I am passionate about the topic.

    much respect~ d

    I am adding you to my "blogs I read" I hope you do not mind

  8. Thanks for posting about this...I had my son in the hospital, with my Dr. talking me into an epidural and the nurse "forcing" the monitor on me, and insisting that I lie on my back rather than my side for delivery...Needless to say the results were um...painful...anyway, I thought I knew enough the first time, but I am better informed now, and will have a different experience if I too get another chance...maybe it will be at home too

  9. i wish i could've gone to the screening in boulder, but i will have to wait until it's out on dvd. i'm so excited to see this movie! thanks for blogging about it and getting it some more attention. i think the more women learn about birth and how it is over-managed and over-medicalized in this country, the better informed they can be and the better choices they can make for themself AND their baby.


  10. Great post! I had both my children at home! Amelia was a water birth! I love talking about home births and how wonderful natural birth is. There are a lot of medican interventions that are absolutely not necessary. Love to talk more on this. =)

  11. I'm struggling with the probable reality that this child as well as any future blessing will have to enter this world via a c-section.
    I desperately wanted an all natural V birth, but after 49 hours (13 on Pitocin & that was the ONLY drug until the C), I had "failure to progress"... as in no more than 1cm. This doc is really frowning on even letting me attempt a VBAC this time.
    Oh what to do but to accept medical fate & be thankful for the child? I figure I have 5ish more months to educate myself as much as possible, right?

  12. this looks great. can't wait to see it on dvd. agree on all fronts. as a doula i have seen the difference the circumstances make vs home and hospital. my deepest desire was a water birth and home and then i found out we were expecting twins... so hopefully next time.

  13. Steph - I'm so jealous that you got to see it!!! I'm in Canada, so there's no screenings near me at all (although I didn't look too closely at the NY ones ... maybe there is one that's close!!). I've been looking forward to this film coming out for AGES!

    We plan to have homebirths with our babies - as long as everything goes well with the pregnancies =)

    I read Tina Cassidy's book this past summer and LOVED it - I'm lending it out to all the women I know who are still having babies to spread the word about maternity care!

  14. I was really surprised to see that Ricki Lake was making this movie. Very cool. There is a screening here in Atlanta at http://www.babystepsonline.net

    Having babies at home was definitely one of the best times of my life. :)

  15. So happy to see you posting about this! I have long said that at home has got to be better... Since it looks like I'm about to have my second c-section (MEDICALLY NECESSARY BOTH TIMES)- I have no choice but to go to a hospital! Thrilled to see what your future holds...with a new baby, born at home?!

  16. Well said! I really enjoyed seeing The Business of Being Born last month. It's really great and I hope it will really get word out there.

    Be sure to remind peeps that it's supposed to be out on DVD in January. I can't wait to get my own copy!

  17. Not to go into lots of details, but during my first son's birth I wish the nurse let me birth on the toilet. It was SO natural! But of course I was put on the bed in that down position -- ICK!


  18. I am coming up on my third home birth/water birth. Both have been amazing experiences that were so intimate and peaceful. I had a lady just today ask me about how we birth, and when I told her that we do homebirth she responded with the very popular answer of "Oh, you are so brave!" I always tell the people that say that to me that I feel it would take way more courage for me to birth in a hospital.
    I don't need courage to birth at home - it's my safe haven, the place I am most comfortable and calm. Besides, I want my new baby to be greeted by my husband and me first, not the gloved hands of a doctor. And I don't want anyone taking my baby away from me until I am good and ready. That and so many more things are only possible when you are home.
    I certainly do not ever force my opinion on anyone - I can only say what has been best for my family. Everyone needs to be informed and then proceed how they are most comfortable.


  19. Great post. I had a traditionally horrible first birth in a hospital. Failed epidural, pitocin, stalled labor, purple pushing, etc. It was traumatic.

    Second labor I also did in a hospital but I did it naturally with a doula. No drugs. Pushed the baby out on my side. It hurt but it was a MUCH better experience. I am so thankful that I found out that there IS a better way to birth in a hospital.

    If I have another, I would even consider a homebirth.

    p.s. thank you for your comment on my shots post. i had read your previous posts on vaccines and they were actually part of what prompted me to look further into delaying the vaxes.

  20. This was so interesting! Seeing as how I live in the middle of NOWHERE I doubt there's a screening anywhere close, but I'll check regardless! Now that we're expecting our second baby, I've really been rethinking our options. We live 45 minutes from the closest hospital, so I'm not really comfortable with a home birth, but I found a free-standing birth center an hour hour that we're looking into. Anyway - it was just nice to read this as I'm beginning birth research all over again!

    Number 1 did NOT come as planned -l-o-n-g labor, a dumb choice to take a sleeping pill which ended in hallucination, being strapped to the bed so very little progression, a middle of the night epidural, and pitocin. Yuck! Thankfully, there were no apparent ill effects to baby and he was a champion nurser - but I was still not pleased and want to avoid it all again!)

  21. I really want to see that - you lucky duck LOL - I had the opportunity to go as well, but sadly it was at night, and with Zachary needing me to put him to bed, it was impossible to go....

    I am so glad you got to see it, I hope I can soon!

  22. Amen, I want to see this movie too. I have decided that my next would be born at home too, easy for me to say b/c there won't be another ;) I don't think I could get hubby on board though so we'd probably agree on a birthing center.

    After a typical hospital birth gone wrong scenario, I have way more faith in home birthing.

  23. I love your post. I totally agree that we have lost sight of how God intended our bodies to work. Our bodies were made to birth babies and nurse them btw... Of course, there are sometimes issues but that is not the norm. Births are treated like medical emergencies instead of something natural. IMO we create medical issues by forcing labor prematurely and not being patient and waiting for our bodies to do what they are supposed to do. We don't want to be uncomfortable any longer, get bigger, or get more stretchmarks, so we get induced. Doctors use the risk of baby NOT being healthy to scare us into being induced. It sickens me. I love the fact that we can question things like this. The older I get, the more I feel confident in questioning everything! I struggle to be gentle when asking necessary questions sometimes...LOL!

  24. reading this makes me think of all my sweet perfect memories of my two home births. no other way to do it!

    can't wait to see it this monday...

  25. Stephanie, great post. I did have unwanted though I believe necessary interventions with Ella's labor. But after taking Bradley classes for 12 weeks I felt like I really understood what I was agreeing to when I let my midwife augment my labor. Note that I said "LET". I can't understand women who just sheepishly let their care provider make all the decisions without being involved in the process.

    I am planning a natural, drug free birth this time too. I would love to birth in a birth center or even explore home birth but either would send my husband over the edge. I know some proponents of natural childbirth argue to disregard anyone else's opinions about the birth except for your own, as the laboring mother, but I can't do that. I wouldn't be able to relax and labor with his constant worry and I respect that this baby is just as much his as mine, so there you have it.

    You will probably like this article a lot:


  26. I wish there was a screning near me. My first was a natural birth center birth and my second was a homebirth transferd to the hospital. If there is ever a thrid I hope i finally get my homebirth.

  27. i was able to see this WONDERFUL film last month (my husband and i saw it on our wedding anniversary!) it is fantastic and i think everyone should see it if they have the chance. you can also visit their website to be informed about the dvd release.
    we have had 2 babies with the support of midwives, the last one at home and i cannot begin to tell you how lovely my births were! :)

  28. My first child was born by a life-saving and very necessary c-section - without it, we both likely would have died and she certainly wouldn't died. A medical emergency during my second child's birth would have been fatal in a home birth setting. The only one of my children who I could have had safely in a non-hospital enviroment was my third - but by then, I'd have been dead twice over, so...

  29. I can't wait to see it! I have heard wonderful things so far.

    I can't wait for it to be on TV for all of America to see. Maybe women will take interest, and realize they have been fooled all along into to thinking their pregnancy was a disease that needs to be managed, and their birth a medical emergency or surgical procedure.

    It is so very sad to me that most women think "normal" birth is in the hospital with IV's, pain meds (which have side effects they are not even aware of...like DEATH), and episiotomies, while lying on their backs....waiting for the doctor to be present so that they can push.

    The statistics show that home birth is AS safe or safer than hospital birth.

    Great post Steph!!!


  30. Interesting, good post! I am not sure I would ever be comfortable birthin' at home, but next time around I will definitely have a doula...my very long, intense labor resulted in a healthy baby, but was not quite the labor I wanted. (Basically drug-free until 9 cm--looong story there!)

    My mother nearly died during childbirth b/c a nurse over-administered a drug (to induce my mother to SLEEP) in order to have an 'easy night' at the nurses' station. She was javascript:void(0)
    Publish Your Commentfired, and my mother and I both lived, but it does make me wary of drugs during labor and exactly who is getting the benefit of them. :)

    Interesting post!

  31. Bummer, Duluth is too far for me to go for a movie. I would love to go see this movie!
    I want to give birth at home, but my husband is completely against it, lol. He would be persuadable if our insurance covered it, but it is hard to convince him $3000 for our midwife is better than $100 for the entire she-bang at the hospital/clinic.
    And he freaked at the thought of unassisted, lol!

  32. I missed our local screening, but I plan on buying the DVD, and I can't wait. I haven't had any of my kids in a hospital, but not because I'm anti-hospital. It was just the best choice for me. I'm excited to hear that you want to stay home next time! I'm studying to become a birth doula - if I lived in your area, I'd volunteer. :-)

    Birth has been probably the most spiritual, sacred, and beautiful times of my life. I was blessed with normal, no-risk pregnancies. I have so much respect for moms who require medical intervention - without which the consequences could have been dire.

    However, I also believe that most women are far from truly educated & informed about their birthing choices in this country. My biggest advice to any mom is to educate yourself outside of the hospital. Find books, websites, talk to midwives & doulas, birth instructors, etc...

    Make your own decision. And respect the opinion of the father of your baby, if that's possible. That alone goes miles in helping your abilitly to birth peacefully.

  33. I'll check that out. Looks great.

    You should look into Birth On Labor Day (BOLD). It's a play.

    I had baby #1 natural in the hospital with a midwife & midwife & hubby.

    Baby #2 was born at home with a midwife attending and a waterbirth. Oh and I had 3 doulas & hubby!

    I loved both of my births, but being home was super special and lovely. I am a homebody at heart anyway.

    As a doula I agree that much more education is needed about birth in this country. My hope is that it can be done in a way that doesn't make women feel judged for the choices they have made in the past or will make even if they don't choose home birth or even natural birth.

  34. ah, someone already linked to that alternet article. it's an interesting read! i was planning to blog about this very subject sometime this weekend.

    i'm interested in seeing that movie. i think it's so wonderful a "celebrity" is encouraging more natual birthing options, rather than the scheduled c-sectioned deliveries you hear so much about in hollywood.

    our daughter was born at home, as - Lord willing - any future children will be. it was long and tough but worth it. i actually ended up pushing and delivering on my back in our bed because that was the only place comfortable! but i'm thankful that i was free to move, twist, turn, or stand up if i wanted or needed to.

    anyway, great post. :)

  35. Thank you for this. I am wanting to have an all natural birth, and received some very good information!

  36. I know a midwife there in Indiana that is excellent. Her daughter is my age (a good friend from high school) and had both her babies at home, no problems. I was told long ago that midwives were illegal in Indiana... is that no longer true?

  37. I just saw thsi movie this weekend and WOW! It was amazing.

    I posted my thoughts here:

    I want to get a screening together for my area now.


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