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.
The Business of Being Born talks about how:
- 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.
Carla, as you said, too many women are “inadequately prepared for the labor and birth process.” My husband and I did a lot of research and reading to prepare for birth. One of the books that we read made the comparison that if you know you are going to run a marathon in nine months, wouldn’t you prepare for it? Yet so many women aren’t doing that. One thing I really liked about the midwife program was how much information and preparation we got prior to labour. We talked about everything (sometimes several times!) and I felt that they really tried to give us all the information they could and to let us make informed choices about the kind of birth that we wanted.
It’s the overuse of epidurals that bothers me. I know that there is a place for pain medication (and like I said, at one point in time I thought about it myself!). One woman I know had a long, exhausting labour, and her midwife recommended an epidural to let her rest and then finish labour. However, I’ve also heard too many stories of nurses/doctors pushing epidurals on women who were doing fine without it and didn’t want it, but finally took it because of the pressure from the doctor/nurse. I’m also concerned that a lot of women aren’t aware of all the side effects of epidurals and take them without considering the risks.
I was glad you posted your story on-line too. Women have been sharing their birth stories with each other since the beginning (except for poor Eve who had no girlfriends to tell. maybe she told a bird or squirrel?)
It’s a beautiful, miraculous thing; why not share it and let others rejoice?
Just be careful not to judge women who can’t handle the pain and get the drugs. I had no drugs but that’s only because my babies all came about an hour after my arrival at the hospital! No time.
Good information. I agree that entirely too many c-sections are done for doctor convenience. Having had epidurals for 3 deliveries, I must say my experiences don’t parallel those in the film, but I know from my nursing experience (I’m an RN) that an epidural given too early in the labor process does slow the labor. I’ve seen many women who have zero tolerance for pain and were inadequately prepared for the labor and birth process, and usually had more difficult times with delivery. There’s not one answer that addresses all the practices out there, but I am not a fan of the growing number of c-sections. I had full-term twins vaginally–it was touch and go for a while, but in the end, it was by far the best for all concerned. I’m really thankful for positive birth experiences like yours. Hope you are settling in and enjoying your daughter.
Yep, really looking forward to when BOBB is showing here… I missed all the pre-releases. 🙁 I’m sure I’ll buy a copy of it on DVD too.
I love that you posted your birth story. I directed people here from my blog telling them that’s how they could pray for me. 🙂
I’m also happy to see you guys got out for a bit even with a newborn. Glad everything’s going so well!