Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

The Business of Being Born February 24, 2008

Last Tuesday I watched a movie which I’d been waiting for for over four years, although I didn’t know it.

Six years ago, I began researching birth, labor, and everything else those two subjects entail. I began this study because I wanted to have a homebirth and my husband was not convinced. He asked me to convince him that it was safer, healthier, and overall better than a conventional hospital birth.

We were both surprised at how the evidence stacked up. Homebirth or midwife assisted birth was by far the safer and healthier option for most pregnancies and births. Indisputably so, though of course, many did dispute it. My husband was even called a murderer for risking his wife’s and child’s life for such a hedonist act. And yet study after study supported homebirth advocates’ claims that homebirth was the better option.

While reading books and articles from medical journals, I would experience feelings of rage and impotence as I realized the magnitude of the average person’s ignorance in things of birth. The American medical establishment purposefully misrepresents information or simply does not give information to expectant mothers. The information they do give them they present in such a way to inspire fear. Fear of this. Fear of that. Fear. FEAR.

The end result is the majority of women are afraid. They are afraid of the pain (which, while in fact painful, is not insurmountable, and I know; I was in labor for over two days). They are afraid of themselves dying or their babies dying, both of which are less likely in a midwife assisted birth than in a doctor assisted birth. They are afraid their baby won’t be healthy (higher apgar score from midwife assisted births than doctor assisted births).

Basically, the less the hospital, doctors and interventions are involved in a birth, the better the outcome and yet, no one know this. When I would tell people we planned on a homebirth, not only were they adamantly against it, they were completely ignorant of the issues involved. I could site sources until I was blue in the face but the simple fact is that most people do not understand or believe things unless they see them on their TV.

Fast forward four years from my daughter’s birth. A friend tells me of this movie called “The Business of Being Born” (for those who can’t run their trailer, here’s a YouTube link) and asks if I want to see it with her. We drive up to Hattiesburg where it is being shown on a college campus for free.

The movie was phenomenal. There were some technical difficulties with the movie and the equipment in the auditorium but we got to see about 95% of the movie. The movie is a lot more about women having choices in the birthing experience than an apology for homebirth. There are no judgments made. They simple state the nature of the problem. The U.S. has the second worst birth stats of industrialized countries. Midwives attend between 70 and 80% of the births in the other countries and the U.S. “stands alone,” having only about half of a percent of births attended by midwives. And yet more babies and more mothers die in the U.S. from birth related causes than anywhere else. Why?

The answer is simple. Money. What costs more, a simple birth with no interventions and no medications or a traumatic birth that results in days and weeks of hospitalization? A healthy baby or one that requires a day or two in the ICU? A routine vaginal delivery with no interventions or a surgery through the abdominal muscles and the uterus and the subsequent days of recovery?

“But…but…but…,” I hear you cry. At first I don’t believe this. Insurance companies wouldn’t stand for this. They want the cheapest labors and births as possible, right? Wrong. They want it complicated and expensive for mothers or else they wouldn’t keep paying the insurance companies. If birth was simple and at home, most mother’s could afford to pay their midwives out of pocket.

The insurance companies, the hospitals, the AMA, and doctors themselves have a vested interest in birth being traumatic, hospitalized, and filled with interventions. It’s job security. They are fighting for their continued existence and these are the people most women trust to tell them the truth about what they need for a healthy pregnancy and birth. Yikes!

(I can cite sources for all these claims but see no reason to look the info up again if no one reads this or cares. If you want to know, just ask and I’ll provide the source documents. Also, I realize there are exceptions to this. There are doctors out there who are great advocates of natural birth but they are the exception and not the rule and hospital policies do not generally support these doctors.)

Okay, I happened to run across this study while researching other things relating to home birth and I thought I’d post it. It confirms everything I’ve said here, regarding home birth being as safe with fewer interventions than hospital birth. While it is only one study it contains links, in the references section, to many more studies.


2 Responses to “The Business of Being Born”

  1. I agree that the statistics are staggering.

    I was a high-risk pregnancy so chose to give birth with a midwife in a hospital and ended up with a c-section. My son was fused to my placenta, so had I attempted a home-birth he most likely would have died or I would have been transported to a hospital when the midwife realized he was in distress.

    I think this movie is a great thing because it will force women to examine the things about birth that they just have shoved down their throats. I labored for 19 hours without an epidural because I did NOT WANT A C-SECTION and I did not want my child to be born drugged. I also didn’t want to deal with the other possible side effects from an epi. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the birth we want, but I am planning a VBAC with my next baby and this film just reinforces in my mind the importance of attempting a natural, intervention-free birth.

  2. CC Says:

    I chose to deliver twice in a hospital. First time I had an epidural. I felt ill for quite a while and my baby did not breathe immediately and was put in the NICU. Second time I did not have an epidural. Baby was completely healthy (she was so active the nurse almost dropped her while weighing her because she was used to such lethargic babies) and we left the hospital 24 hours after the birth. I must say I have a wonderful doctor who is an advocate of natural birth and will only do epidurals at your request and C-sections only in dire emergencies. If I could do it over I would have avoided the epidural the first time. I haven’t watched your movie yet…but I will. However, I am glad I went to the hospital. Perhaps if I hadn’t had the epidural my baby would have breathed better, but then perhaps not. I am not willing to take the chance…even if it means I’m playing into the fearmongering of some doctors and hospitals.

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