The Business of Being Born

I was recommended this movie and decided to rent it last night. It is an interesting look at maternity care in the United States by a producer and a filmmaker who do not hide their pro-midwife and pro-homebirth biases. Although some of the facts of maternity care in the US does make your blood curl, I also see some flaws in their arguments.

For instance, they compare the mother and infant death mortality in the US to that of Europe and Japan, where midwives attend %70 to %80 of births. What they don’t mention is that the US is also the only one of those countries not to have universal health care. So the fact that there is more complications could also be due to the fact that lots of women don’t get the pre- and post-natal care they should for lack of money or insurance.

But there is also convincing evidence that there are problems in the American system. The fact that some hospitals have a %45 cesarean section rates is rather alarming, as is the fact that almost no one manages to have a natural birth at the hospital there. Of course we have only one side of the story, but it does really seem like when labor drags on a bit too much, doctors are very quick to prescribe pitocin to speed up contractions, which usually leads a woman to need an epidural, which then tends to slow down labor, which requires more pitocin, which ends up putting the baby in distress and leading the mother down the path to a c-section. All that, according to them, because hospitals are businesses and doctors want to empty beds as fast as possible. It is telling that the c-section rates spike around 4 pm and 10 pm, when doctors want to go home.

I have to admit that watching that movie made us reconsider homebirth. I’m still not overly comfortable with the idea, and I am pretty confident that a midwife will be able to help me have a natural birth at the hospital. But although my first birth with my doctor was completely natural, Zak is right when he points out that it was a super fast birth once we got to the hospital, and nothing says I would have been allowed to have that kind of birth if I had been in labor for hours. I will talk about it with the midwife on Tuesday out of curiosity. If I wasn’t convinced I can have a natural birth at the hospital, I would definitely consider a homebirth. But for now, I’ll stick to my hospital plan.

If you’re curious: The Business of Being Born, $6.99 rental on the Website but $4.99 rental on iTunes.

One Response to “The Business of Being Born”

  1. Julie et Darren Says:

    Glad you guys enjoyed the movie! It sure made us think about what we’d decide to do when the time comes. It’s also why I hope you’ll share your experience with a midwife with us. :)

    Your big day must be anytime soon by now. Good luck, and I wish you an easy birth just like the first one!!