johnlink ranks THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN (2008)

This documentary would not have been even remotely on my radar a couple of years ago. But with Liz choosing a medication-free birth, it was a title I had heard about from several people. It was brought up by a friend recently, and Liz happened to see it on the library shelf the very next day. So, it became movie number 201 in this series!

I watched the documentary THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN (2008) on 11.9.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

Let me first say that I never expected Ricki Lake to provide society with anything of merit. But, as she is the executive producer on this project, turns out I’m wrong. You can argue some of the points this film makes (though I personally argue very few), but she offers up an interesting discussion.

And what is that discussion? Basically, the United States is among the worst civilized countries in terms of infant and mother mortality rate at birth. We are also the leader, by dozens of percentage points, in the birth intervention rate (meaning that we, more than any other country, don’t allow birth to just happen naturally).

We deliver more children by cesarean section than any other country, and it isn’t even close. Coincidentally, the medical associations in the US in the early part of the 20th century went on a smear campaign, portraying midwives as dangerous and uncivilized. You had to have an OB perform your birth, or bad things would happen. Never mind that they were using untested and unsafe drugs on patients (and women’s rights movements aided this by suggesting that childbirth pain, a Biblical punishment, wasn’t necessary!), doctors were the only choice.

It led to a mindset in this country, like no other country in the world, that birth is meant to be drugged, and that women were meant to not feel anything. This led to a mixture of drugs which led to more intervention by doctors.

This film tells the story, from multiple viewpoints, about how women have more choices than they usually know. And that doctors aren’t always quick to tell them about their options. Home birthing, midwife and doula assisted births, non-intervention births are all often left as untold options.

This film doesn’t say cesareans are evil. In fact, in what balances the film at the end, the director ends up having to have a cesarean because her baby is breech. The moral of this story is, simply, that medical intervention is sometimes, but not usually, necessary. It should be embraced when the mother or child is at risk, but it doesn’t need to be considered the norm.

This film uses less statistics and more talking heads than many documentaries. But that said, it tries to tell a complete story, allowing OBs and midwives both to have their say. The filmmakers obviously side with the midwives.

Despite the modest scores below (it’s not a particularly brilliant documentary), I would say this is must viewing for a couple about to have a child. It doesn’t intend to intimidate or scare or make you hate doctors. It merely gives you some information you aren’t likely to run into at the hospital.





~ by johnlink00 on November 10, 2010.

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