The Business of Being Born

NOTE:  This post is my thoughts after viewing the documentary titled “The Business of Being Born” – Produced by Ricki Lake and Directed by Abby Epstine.  You may or may not agree with what I thought of the film, and you may or may not agree with the conclusion I draw from this film.  But I asked that you please be respectful when considering leaving your comments.  Thanks.

NOTE 2:  Of course being me, this is not just a strictly review post.  It also involving on how I came across the title and why I became interested in watching this film.

NOTE3:  I am not affiliated with any of the below mentioned film or books.  I do not make any profit from them and my promotion of them are purely based on my experience as a consumer.

Banner240x400Five years ago, or even when I first found out I was pregnant, if you ask me where I plan on delivering my baby and how I’m going to do it, I would have said, “In the hospital with all the drugs the doc will give me!  I’m a whimp and I don’t want pain!”

No doubt, that has always been my view of having babies – I mean, who would want to have a baby outside the hospital?  That sounds so unsanitary and gross!  And why would any women want to go through the pain when you can easily avoid it?  That just doesn’t add up in my logical brain!  It doesn’t make sense if anyone would want to go through that!

If you know me, you would know that “granola crunchy” is probably not the phrase you use on me.  I do, however, like to eat and get organic food whenever possible, and when you look at my registry for my baby, you will notice large amount of organic items, or environmental friendly items, such as glass bottles.  (I came from a country that recycle is a must and it is built into your daily lives, unlike the United States, only recycle when one feels like it.  “Green” is not optional where I came from.  There is no land to bury all the trash, we MUST recycle when we can.  Well, we are getting off track here…  “Green” is a topic for another day.)

My friend Alexis and I had always had similar taste in things, doesn’t matter if it is craft or clothes related.  And I guess only us, can some how manage getting pregnant around the same time.  I know, hard to believe, but we are only due about 2 weeks apart, and no, we didn’t plan it that way!  (Imagine the interesting phone conversation we would have to have to make that happen on purpose!)  Except she is having twins!  And the likelyhood of her having the twins on time instead of early is pretty slim at this point.  (So everyone send good thoughts to her and another day for the girls to be in mommy is another day they don’t have to spend in NICU!  And if you do visit her blog and leave her a comment, make sure you tell her I sent you so she doesn’t freak out that all the new people she doesn’t know!!! While I’m still typing up my post, I got an update that Alexis is now a proud mommy of two girls!!!!!  No details yet though!  So excited!)  [Bare with me…  I get off track quite easily these days…]  So of course, we will consult each other on things to register and things to buy, things to read and things to consider.

When Alexis lived in Hawaii, she has become an “natural ingredients” expert.  What I mean is that she has gone organics on almost anything, and that she really knows her ingredients when it comes to things you put on yourself, such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, face wash, etc.  I was having trouble with my acne for awhile and she introduced me to Garden of Eve Skin Care, which I absolutely love and it helped cleared my acne before I have too much chemical crap build up on my face.  So no doubt, when I started looking for baby stuff, I asked her for her opinions.  What was shocking to me, was that of all the things I asked her opinions on, I didn’t ask what kind of birth she was going to have.  Until I watched “The Business of Being Born”.

To be honest, I am scared shit less about this whole birth thing.  The pain, the process, the whole bit.  Until recently, I didn’t realize there is a different way to have birth than be at the hospital, hooked up with IV and the various monitors.  You see, I am a whimp, and I don’t like needles.  Last August, I had a scared of appendicitis and when the night doctor told me that they are admitting me and the possibility of having the surgery down on me and I couldn’t stop crying.  I was scared.  Any surgery in my mind is a major surgery.  Even the outpatient kind.  Now birth is a whole new level on top of that in my head!  And I think because of that (the fact that I was scared and in denial), and because of few other things in life, I didn’t register for any birth classes at the hospital that I will deliver at on time.  (Remind me to tell you the annoying lady who answer the phone next time!)  All the classes were filled!  And the next available class was too late, according to the lady who answered the phone.  After bitching about it at SnB (yes, we do bitch while knitting!), PeacefulKnitter was so nice and sent me a few things she was looking into, while I decided to google about the different birth methods.  That is when I came about this film.  She had watched it, and she also listed the book by the same people – “Your Best Birth“.  Along with it, was a link to Tree of Life classes.  They offer similar classes as the hospital, so I thought it would be a good fit.  I called and emailed them, but heard back only after I have found the Bradley Method during my research, a week after the original email sent.  I was intrigue by the Bradley Method, and I called my local instructors, told them my due date and dilemma of wanting to take the classes but not having 12 weeks left!  They were very nice and are willing to work with us to have accelerated classes towards the end so we can be prepared for the big day.

After signing up, I was very interested in watching this film.  It took me going to three libraries to find the DVD.  And yes, I made David watch it with me, and I have to say, he was a trooper and sit through the whole thing, although he did say at one point that he thought he was gonna be sick.  The film was very graphic, so if you are interested in watching it, be prepared.

The film’s approach was very interesting.  Ricki and Abby wanted to show the world that there is a different type of birth – the natural kind, free of drugs and interventions.  They are biased and thinks that natural home birth is much safer for the mom and baby and that’s what they really wanted for their own births.  They interviewed doctors who supported home birth and doctors who think that birth should only take place in the hospital.  They filmed real footage of women having home births and women having hospital births.  They discuss the national rate of C-sections labor and the effect of pitocin and epidural on the laboring women and babies during labor.  And it even included footage of Abby’s own birth and how it took a turn that forced her to have a C-Section, and her feelings about it after.  This film had completely opened my eyes on birth, and I now see it as a natural process, not a diaster that’s about to happen.

One thing to note though –  after watching this film, I was very emotional.  I cried through the film as they uncover some of the facts on hospitals, and why the hospital operates the way they do.  I was angry with that.  Then I cried at seeing the home birth footage, the beauty of the birth and how joyful the families were after the birth.  I turned away at the administration of the epidural footage, and the C-Section footage.  I felt sick at the sight of those things.  And then, I was empowered.  I felt strong and determination forming in my head.  I feel empowered by this film and am confident that I have the knowledge and smarts on writing my birth plan.  I now have a list of questions to ask the hospital during the tour next week, and I also have a list of questions to ask my OB/midwife.  I was so empowered, I searched on google for nearby stand along birth center (as much as I was empowered, I didn’t think David was ready for home birth, and stand along birth center is as close to home birth as I can get.).  Unfortunately, the closest stand along birth center is about an hour away.  Actually, it was the only one in this state!  Which is a little shocking to me being in the northeast.  Yes, I was ready to switch to have the birth at a birth center, because I’m not sure if I trust hospitals!  And in order for me to do that, I will have to switch OB/midwife, which I am okay with it also.  But I decide to hold my horses and go on the tour with the hospital and see how I feel about it after.  Plus I heard good things from other new moms I know that delivered at the hospital that I’m going to be at and said they didn’t do any interventions, nor did they push to give you IV or monitors.  She had a natural birth there and she was happy with it, comparing to her previous births, which was at a different hospitals, with lots of attempts for interventions.

I am now committed to have a safe, natural birth, with no drugs, no IV, no various monitors and no intervention, unless it is absolutely medically necessary.  Now, I’m not saying that what I’m committing to is for everyone.  Everyone is different, every pregnancy is different.  You should do what’s best for you and your baby, and always consult your birth team, whether it be your midwife or OB.  But I do encourage you to do plenty of research.  Just think about this:  Giving birth to your baby is probably the hardest thing, and probably the biggest investment of your life.  Now, when you go buy a car, a gadget, a TV or a computer, wouldn’t you do plenty of research on which model you like the best?  What are the softwares that comes with that computer that suits you the best?  Which car test drive the best?  So why wouldn’t you interview your OB or midwife, or even the hospital?  To find out what’s best for you?  And if you are interested in looking into more, I highly suggest the book Your Best Birth, which has lots of questions listed that you can ask the hospital, OB and midwives, and also Husband Coached Birth, which is about the Bradley Method.

I hope my thoughts will help someone out there to do a little more research on their own birth.  Even if they decided hospital birth with epidural is the way to go for them, at least they had made that decision informatively.


9 thoughts on “The Business of Being Born

  1. Dearest Jenn,

    first of all: I did not have internetaccess for quite some time due to laptop crash. And I lost your email adress and that is why I will comment here and it will be a long one, perhaps. Hope you’re ok with it 🙂

    When I thought about giving birth I always had the exact same attitude you describe: Give me all the drugs, dig out the baby and give it to me all clean and nice and easy. Actually, I was convinced that I would never ever want to be a mother and so all these thought were highly speculative.

    We all know that life changes and with it your ideas and wishes. Soon after I met Steve who was all for having a family I began to feel curious about how a kid made with his and my genes would look like and from there I was lost: he wants a kid, I want a kid – let’s do it. Exciting it was 🙂 And it worked pretty quick. Just 4 months after deciding to have a go I was already pregnant and reality dawned on me: there is a baby in my tummy and it will want to get out sometime. Somehow.

    And all of a sudden I could not face it: I always hated doctors, I can’t stand nurses (most of them) and a hospital is a house of horror. And now I shall go there, trust them and let them do whatever they want? Ugh, no way. But I am not a hero, never was, never even wanted to be.

    I am not sporty, I feel pain easily, and worst of all always had pain close to labour (now I know that!) when my period begins. So what can I do? Steve always dreamed of being a part of giving birth and not to stand far away seeing me getting drugged. He therefore was supporting my attitude not to go to the hospital. In those days we lived in the inner part of the city and five minutes walk away was the “Geburtshaus” (Birth house) which is founded and lead by midwives. In Germany a midwife is necessary when giving birth, a doctor is not although they attend during the last minutes of birth in hospital. Doctors do want to change this law since ever and don’t like midwives to be independent and like to tell pregnant women horrible stories about how dangerous for her and for her baby it would be if there were no doctors and no surgery facilites. Not a pleasant experience sitting through it I can tell you, but now I am losing my thread, too 😉

    I didn’t know about the Geburtshaus, then. I am not a green person, either and on to easily connects giving birth the natural way with people drinking herbal tea, avoiding the shower on a daily base, walking around in linen sacks and looking up the sky for messages from their guiding star. Actually, you might find that some of the clients are for some of these things but mostly you will find highly educated people going there.
    So when one day we were taking a scroll I first found a leaflet in a shop concerning the Geburtshaus, showed it to Steve, said perhaps we should have a look there for some prenatal courses and the next minute we accidentally walked by, recognizing the logo we just saw on the leaflet. Well … why not ask for some course?
    Two weeks later we attended a speech there where the midwife explained how the house was founded, what they wanted to achieve and how it was done. In short: three rooms for giving birth, a big bath tub, a small one, balls to sit on and such. Acupuncture, one midwife to take of you through your pregnancies (so that you will know and like each other), a second one to assist through the last phase of giving birth, teas, aroma therapy – but no drugs at all! But Monika – the midwife talking – was such a warm, friendly, yet strict and powerful woman, convinced that every woman is able to give birth if only she would listen to herself and not to doctors who want to get over with it that when we came out into a very warm and sunny early summer evening I was enthusiastic. We went to sit somewhere outside to eat dinner and all of a sudden I could not stop speaking that I now know exactly what to do. Steve was happy although not yet convinced that I would really do it, knowing my and my attitude when it comes to pain. But really, I was sure and remained so. There was not one day that changed my mind and through the all pregnancy I never felt afraid – not for me or the kid and not at all afraid of giving birth. Knowing me this was a wonder and not a small one.

    Heike, my midwife, was great and so was the pregnancy. When it finally started – the birth giving thing – she was fifteen minutes later at our place and brought us (having no car then) to the Geburtshaus. From the very first labour to Lenny coming into this world it took me exactly three hours which is extremely quick. I gave birth in the bath tub in the middle of a winter night two days shy from Christmas Eve and although it was painful more than I could have imagined it was also a kind of pain that takes you in so that you feel almost high. It is exhausting and tiring but there is no room for thinking how bad it is, you just go on and you know it is going to be ok. And it was. There was my little baby boy with me in a warm bath tub, candles and scents around us, snow fell outside the windows, Steve had his arms around my shoulders, my midwife and her colleage standing still and smiling and I was so proud and relieved and dreamlike it is impossible to describe.

    When 19 months later I was pregnant again I literally could not wait to call Heike again and tell her. Although I had to stay in bed for the last third of pregnancy us my body was too good at giving birth and wanted to start it now, now, now (;-) ) she came to me with no complaint. When the baby then decided that it was time to come out it was the 20th of very hot days and it was an early morning – completely different from the first time. We lived a bit further away, still no car and Steve called Heike to prepare the Geburtshaus, my parents to fetch Lenny, a taxi to bring us down there. And we arrived there just in time. The pain was worse than the first time which is easily understood when you hear that this time I only needed one and half an hour. But this time I felt immediately fit and well just ten minutes after Tommy was born. The sun was shining through the window and you felt the heat rising slowly while the town around you became noisy and busy again and here we were all quiet and peaceful with another cute little boy who immediately knew how to drink and cling to you.

    The first time I had the greatest pregnancy but a hard time with breastfeeding and recovering, this time the pregnancy was not that easy but the feeding and recovering were more than great. They really needed to force me into bed 😉

    You see, I needed a lot of your comment space and I do hope that you feel it was perhaps a little helpful to read it. Your body knows exactly what to do and if feel the urge to whimper, yell instead because it gives you power. Tell people around you what you want, if it is a glass of water, a massage, something cooling, something cosy. You can do this as every other woman can if she wants to 🙂

    All the best for now!

  2. What a wonderful post, Jenn. Thanks for sharing! I am so glad that you are feeling empowered and confident with your plan. It’s a scary thing, and taking a little bit of control over the situation, even though things change, is the best we can do to cope. Hope your classes go well!

  3. I used to watch this show on Discovery Health that would showcase the International School of Midwifery in Miami as well as stories from the birth center. It was a eye-opener for me, being someone who thought that would be just for “granola crunchers”, but they had stories from all walks of life.

    Matt would freak if I ever suggested that, but, I probably would end up delivering in the hospital due to my “Factor 5” blood condition anyway. Basically, I am in danger of developing blood clots after delivering and would need to immediately be put on blood thinners after having the baby.

    I respect the decision that you have made and feel like you presented your position in an informative way. 🙂

  4. Happy you saw the Business of Being Born. I’ve always known I was going to have natural birth. Have you looked at Birthing Center at St. Mary’s in Waterbury? They are separate from the hospital and allow water births (my first choice of birthing). Thing is if you do happen to run into any issues (I pray you don’t) but if you do the hospital is connected to the birthing center. Have you looked at an Doula? Birth Partners of CT seems pretty good to me. They are really nice on the phone too. Sorry to put more ideas in your head I’m sure it is running a million miles a minute already.

  5. I think it’s great that you’re really thinking things through and making a decision that’s right for you. Giving birth is a big deal. I had my boy naturally – in a hospital, no epidural, no IV, but with monitors for the baby. It wasn’t my choice. I wanted an epidural desperately, but the midwife, who was the back-up for my ob, seemed to not hear my very loud requests. In the end, I was happy that I’d delivered naturally. I felt good (when it was over) and my boy came out wide awake and ready to look me in the eyes. So nice. I don’t know if I’d choose to do it that way again, but I know it’s definitely do-able! Do whatever is best for you. It’s good to be in control. I wasn’t – and I didn’t like that!

  6. Part of me is screaming, “TAKE THE DRUGS!! TAKE THE DRUGS!!!!” but it’s a small part. lol

    Birthing is something that should be up to the woman having the child. Good for you for educating yourself on the different ways to bring life into the world.

    Suzy had all natural child birth. If you have questions, I’m sure she’d be happy to answer them.

    I was so very sick with Jack that it’s impossible to say one way or the other with regards to anything other than the c-section.

    Which hospital is your doc affiliated with??

  7. Jen,

    I am no granola cruncher either, but had 5 babies…all various hospitals and one at home (quite unexpectedly). All were natural as I delivered very quickly. I’d say if you are comfortable with your OB/GYN you should be able to trust that they will not try to speed things up or rush you through this! Also having the emrgency services of a Hospital available is comforting. On the way to the Hospital with my “Dirty” baby (born outside the sterile hospital environs) it hit me that something could have gone wrong…I was very blessed to have a healthy baby and no complications.
    Natural is best for you and the baby, but if the stress is too much for you, I can’t believe it is good for either you or the baby! David will be your strength (even if he does go pale and feel weak in the knees!)
    Best of luck to you three!
    God bless,

  8. Thanks for this post, from me and all my midwife/doula friends (I used to work for a breastfeeding support organization, so I know a lot of those). Making informed decisions is SO important. Even though I had two cesareans, I am very glad I labored naturally right up until the last possible moment with both my births (turns out my tailbone is deformed–they weren’t gonna come out). Still, knowing my options, knowing what interventions I did not want, and knowing that I could handle a lot of pain just by breathing and relaxing was very empowering. I wish you the best birth possible, and the grace to handle it if things aren’t as ideal as you wished. Good luck with nursing and diapering and loving the baby!

  9. My friend from elementary school gave birth about 10 months ago, and she had a home birth. Her sister is a midwife, so I guess that may have influenced her decision, but they were also very very careful about everything. She and her husband had been trying for years to have a baby, and they didn’t think they ever would, so when she found out she was pregnant, she had to try very hard not to be paranoid about every little thing.

    Anyway, great post, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I may not be expecting yet myself, but it’s never too early to start considering these issues. It’s also nice to know that there are some “middle-ground” options.

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