On the weekend, my husband and I went with friends to see The Business of Being Born. It’s an hour-and-a-half documentary on birthing practices in the United States. Today, maternity care in many hospitals is being done on the basis of what’s convenient and profitable for the doctor, and not what’s best for the mother and her baby.
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The Business of Being Born takes a look at some very shocking statistics, examines the history of maternity practice, and shows numerous natural births as well as a couple of Ceasareans. The directors interview midwives, doctors, nurses and mothers. It was eye-opening even for me, and I’ve heard many of the statistics or read articles on similar themes.
- Women are given epidurals during labour, but this can slow labour, so pitocin is administered to speed up labour, but also makes the contractions harder and longer, which means more epidural is required, which again slows down labour, so more pitocin is administered, which makes labour more painful, so more epidural… until the baby, enduring this hard, squeezing labour, goes into fetal distress and a C-section is required.
- The United States has the worst C-section rate in the world (about 1 in 3 births) and also the worst rate of newborn deaths.
- The most C-sections happen at 4:00 pm and 10:00 pm, when doctors want to go home for supper or for the night. Doctors prefer C-sections, because they take 20 minutes, rather than waiting around for an average of 12 hours for a labouring woman. What’s better for the woman? Well, a C-section is major abdominal surgery. Who wants that unless it’s absolutely necessary?
My husband asked me last week why I posted my birth story online, and The Business of Being Born crystallized my reasons for doing that. Birthing and labour aren’t talked about much in our society, or when they are, they are talked about negatively. TV shows portray women in labour as screaming, hysterical, in pain, and in need of doctor interventions to save their lives.
When one of my co-workers got pregnant last year, she said everyone came up to her to tell her their horror stories about labour—not what you want to hear when you’re a few months pregnant and headed there. I wanted to show that birth can be a natural, normal, beautiful thing—because it is. The Business of Being Born shows that while asking tough questions about how women in labour are being treated.
If you saw The Business of Being Born and want more information on these topics, I highly recommend Henci Goer’s book The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. A friend of mine gave me her copy when I was pregnant with Sunshine, and I later bought my own copy. Henci goes into more detail about some of the issues discussed in The Business of Being Born, with stats and research so you can make an informed decision about what you want during your birth.