The Business of Being Born
I watched a great documentary this past weekend, which was produced by Ricki Lake. She became interested in birthing alternatives after the hospital birth of her first child. The Business of Being Born airs on Showtime and explores the experience and impact of home versus hospital birth on mothers and their infants. The film follows several pregnant women who choose home births over what has become the “traditional” hospitalized procedure.
I found the film highly informative. Doctors, midwives, and mothers are interviewed about the process of birth. The film briefly touches on the birthing practices in other countries and makes the point that while less than 1% of American births take place at home, the United States has the second highest incidence of infant mortality in the developed world. The diminishing importance of midwifery in the U.S. is examined and explained within a historical context.
Women recount their personal experiences and discuss the emotional repercussions of vaginal versus cesarean birth. This is an important discussion because cesarean births have risen approximately 46% since 1996. The filmmakers make the point that birth is often treated like an event requiring lots of medical intervention when in fact it can often be a very natural process. Doctors and midwives emphasize that cesarean birth—while sometimes absolutely necessary—is major surgery requiring medication and significant recovery time. The effect of cesarean sections on mother-baby bonding and interference in natural hormone production in a mother’s body are discussed. The common use of drugs such as pitocin, which is synthetic oxytocin, in vaginal hospital births, comes under scrutiny.
Such a highly emotional subject is sure to inspire passionate debate. But whatever your feelings regarding home vs. hospital birth, the film is worth seeing if for nothing else than the intimate, profound birthing moments captured on film. Check out the website for more information: