Friday, November 02, 2007

Business of Being Born

Last Saturday I attended a screening of the documentary film The Business of Being Born. It was awesome. Awesome. The film examines the birth process across the spectrum of maternity care with the focus being on the United States' low use of midwives and home births. I was amazed at some of the statistics and learned from the hostess that Colorado's c-section rate is 1 in 4 (Denver's is 1 in 3!)

I always come to birthing discussions from two different angles. I am intimately involved in the medical system as a nurse and as the spouse of a medical professional, but I also chose to have unmedicated births. My first birth was attended (well, supposed to be attended, but that is a story for another day) by a midwife, and the second by an OB who was very supportive of my decision to have an unmedicated birth. She is also very supportive of midwife attended births and was the backup OB for a group of independent nurse midwives. I originally wanted a home birth, but Matt was quick to veto that idea. We then explored the freestanding birthing center option which was very convenient as it was only 3 blocks from our home. Our insurance wouldn't cover it. Instead I chose the birthing center within the hospital, but I ended up in regular L&D for both births (but not for medical reasons - read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf for more info on the misleading practice of hospital "birthing centers" as well as more great info on our birthing systems in the US.) Still I had amazing, unmedicated births. I'll post my birth stories someday. But I digress...

I am a proponent of birth being treated as a natural process. I like to see as little intervention as possible, and the statistics certainly support the safety of midwifery and home births. On the other hand, I also understand how and why hospitals work the way they do (not saying it is right or shouldn't change, but I understand). I also understand the pressure our legal system puts on health care providers. The rate at which legal action is taken agains doctors is ridiculous.

My point being that I am always concerned that information about natural childbirth is going to be anti-hospital and/or anti-doctors which always puts me on the defensive. This film didn't do that. While doctors and hospitals weren't always shown in the best light, the film did an excellent job demonstrating that sometimes the interventions of hospitals and doctors are absolutely necessary.

I did get a little annoyed and spoke up after someone at the screening made the comment that unmedicated birth is "impossible" in the hospital. It is very possible and relatively easily attained with the right information, the right mindset, and the right support.

My only real complaint about the movie is that it made me want to give birth again... but Matt veto'd that idea too.


Jayanthi said...

THanks for sharing this. I am glad to find your blog. I hope I can find this fantastic film as well.

Tiffany said...

I was in labor with Mikayla for a total of 20 hours and after about hour 15 I was wanting that epidural. Next time I am going to try and hold out longer - but we will see. What bothered me the most about Mikayla's birth was having to sit in bed for over a half hour while they monitored my constractions - that made the labor that much wose. I plan on laboring as long as possible at home this time - maybe no epidural but like I said we will see. Also - after this kido no more - I am too uncomfortable this time to consider it again.

The Cole Mine said...

Kristen, I think you should host a carnival called "Birth Story". We could all post our stories to our blogs and link to yours...Thanks for the info - I still hope to see this film.

Everyday Yogini said...

I *wish* I had been there to see the film with you! It sounds fabulous and I'm definitely putting it on our Netflix list! I think a Birth Story carnival sounds great!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

i wondered what your reaction would be since you and matt both have medical backgrounds. i'm glad to hear that it's fairly balanced, but still makes a good case as to why change is needed.
while i agree with you that natural birth in a hospital is possible, you absolutely have to be very well-informed before you go in and have the right care provider. and even then, things don't always go as planned. but then you already know that i'm a big proponent of home births. ;)

anyway, i can't wait to see it...someday! :)

Navelgazing Midwife said...

For those that believe a natural birth in the hospital is impossible, read these two stories:

It is true, it takes a hefty amount of support from hospital/doctor/nurses/doula/partner/educated laboring mom in order to obtain an unmedicated birth... so, it can be REALLY challenging to have that natural birth in the hospital, especially in some parts of the country... but, not impossible. REALLY, REALLY hard for most women, I will agree with that (having worked in birth around the country and talked to hundreds of thousands of women for 25 years as they've attempted to create a birth that is filled with respect and kindness).

But, as I say at the end of the photo essay post, there is hope... and we always need hope.


shokufeh said...

I'm looking forward to a screening of this at my place of employment in a month. Good to hear that it won't disappoint.

cjcolorado said...

I saw BoBB about a week before you here in town and was equally impressed! I, too, had an unmedicated birth (of twins,nonetheless) in the hospital and had no problems with 'the system' whatsoever. But, I had to do a fair bit of work to find the right OB (we'd been contemplating homebirth before we found out about the twins), the right doula, and we were lucky enough to have the *perfect* L&D nurse that day. Not impossible, but the stars were certainly aligned!
Great blog you've got!