Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Business of Being Born

Natural birth - for those who choose it - is a "cause" I hold very close to my heart.

I had a chance to watch the new documentary from Ricki Lake called, "The Business of Being Born."

Forget those 1970's lamaze videos - this should be required watching for anyone who's pregnant.
Especially if it's their first baby, but even if it's not.

Of course, it should be noted this is a documentary. And like all documentaries, it has an agenda... a slant, if you will. But we're so bombarded with "mainstream" images and ideas of the medical side of birth that this video presents a nice counter-balance and should give any viewer something to think about. It does a good job of showing how the "go along to get along" mentality that often naturally occurs in hospitals can be detrimental to the birthing wishes of a laboring woman.

And like they say in the movie, a woman's birth experience is a memory that will stay with her until the day she dies. Some women have great births and great memories. Some are indifferent. But far too many are forever scarred by the things that are taken out of their control. Our society likes to focus on the outcome - and often argues that a healthy baby is the only thing that matters in the end.

I've been present when a "perfect" (medically speaking) labor and delivery resulted in the unexpected death of a newborn. I do know exactly what it's like when things go wrong. But I still say, focusing on the "but you have a healthy baby" is degrading to women and discounts the very valid feelings of disappointment they may have in their birth experience. We don't do enough to protect that experience today, and we can and should be doing more.

In the end, I was left wanting a bit more from this movie. When it was over  I said, "I feel like Ricki Lake is just where I was seven years ago." Meaning - I feel like she is going through what I went through after the birth of my first child, she just has the means to turn it into a documentary. I didn't see or hear anything that I haven't known since I started researching natural birth after Ethan was born. So while it's not really "new" information, I know it will be to many people. And many will consider it "revolutionary." Personally, I'm just glad it's out there in a more "mainstream" format. 

If you were happy with your birth experience, I encourage you to watch this movie.

If you weren't happy with your birth experience, this movie might be therapeutic and help you work through those feelings.

If you're pregnant, get yourself a Netflix subscription and get it in your queue asap.

2 comments: said...

I was born at home, obviously no medical intervention there. My mom is a lay midwife. So I feel like I have a different view than most people. I would have seriously considered having my kids at home if I had a doctor I trusted to be there. However, I had complications with my first, so it was probably good that I was at the hospital. Although, it did lead to a staph infection. What a mess!

Shannon said...

You know Jen, the more you tell me about her the more I want to meet your mom!

I think homebirth is largely misunderstood, underappreciated, and overlooked in our society. It's clouded with misconceptions (no pun intended!) and it makes me sad. I didn't learn enough about it until it was too late for my own births, but I don't really have any regrets.

Not that I think it's an option for everyone - but what is an option for more women than choose to exercise it is the power and ability to make your own labor decisions and to educate yourself independently so you're able to be happy with your choices after the baby is born and the labor experience is a memory. It's not always about avoiding interventions either - just being able to feel empowered about the decision to use them, imho.