Friday, April 09, 2010

The Business of Being Born

After watching this documentary for the second time, once before giving birth, and once after I have a completely different perspective. While I appreciate the films informative nature concerning midwifery, I'm annoyed by it's biased account of birthing in a hospital setting. I delivered at a hospital under the supervision of a team of OB/GYNs including a certified nurses midwife. I attended birthing classes, read more books than I care to remember, asked questions, and came up with a birthing plan that I felt most represented what I wanted out of the birthing experience. I presented my birthing plan to my doctors at the last appointment before I went into labor. They welcomed the plan, and were more than supportive of my own involvement in the decision making process. In the documentary hospital births are shown as a lie flat on your back, have the baby in less that 12 hours or we will deliver via Cesarean process that offers no opportunity for active involvement from the mother. What I experienced in the birthing classes, and up until the point my labor went crazy couldn't have been farther from the image created by this documentary. The nurses and doctors highly recommended walking, moving, the use of a rocking chair, body ball, or jacuzzi tub. The bed had parts that removed so that a squatting position could be achieved for delivery. Basically everything that I read about in books that discussed natural labor was at my disposal if I chose to use it.
Ultimately my labor and delivery went the opposite of everything I had planned, but there was nothing anyone could have done to predict my experience. Luckily I was in a hospital setting when I delivered. Had I been at home or in a birthing center the outcome would have been very different and my guess is that either Hayden, myself, or possibly both of us would not be here today.
What I would like to see in a future documentary or book is more well rounded view of labor and delivery from all aspects. Something similar to the birthing classes we attended would be perfect. Our instructor gave us vital information about the in's and out's of delivering in a hospital setting, let us know what tools we had at our disposal, and more importantly shared with us when intervention was called for and when it wasn't. The insight and information she gave me was priceless and helped me to understand what was going on even when my labor and delivery took a turn for the worse. I felt as though I was able to make very informed decisions even though I was scared out of my mind. I knew when my doctors had done everything possible to help me deliver naturally, and when it was in my best interest to have a cesarean.
Women are not empowered when given misinformation and half truths. We are empowered when we are given all of the information and allowed to make the choice that best suits us.


R said...


aola said...

The hospital setting was pretty much like that in the past,but, from what I've heard from informed women like you it isn't anymore. Sounds to me like this documentary like so many are mere propaganda to try to sway people to their way of thinking by misconceptions and lies. I guess it is our job as women to be diligent about digging until we get to the truth of a matter.

Emma said...

I had two hospital births, the first ending in a c-section and the second a VBAC. I am so happy to hear that your experience was not like mine. Not all hospitals and their staff are as supportive or encouraging of a woman's birth plans or desire to be involved. My third was in a clinic with a midwife and was my dream birth experience. I think the key part of your blog is that women are empowered when they are fully informed. It's hard to get an un-biased opinion, so you have to listen to both sides. I was VERY thankful for the hospital when I needed my c-section, but also very thankful that I was able to deliver my daughter much more peacefully than my second son. I believe strongly that the best place for women to give birth is where THEY feel most safe and comfortable, and we need to stop saying that one way or the other is the only way, and give women all the information they need to make the best informed decision.
(sorry about my rant. :o) this is something I feel strongly about. and as a dis-claimer, I haven't seen the movie yet, though I've been told I should.)

Sandra said...

Becky, I really miss your blog..a lot.

A, I think that the hospital birthing experience has changed a lot over the past decade. I didn't know much about that process when Erin was born, but I do remember Charity using the jacuzzi tub. She didn't take birthing classes and I think that makes a big difference since those classes are geared toward helping a mom use all of the tools available including her own strength and ability.

Em, I feel strongly about this topic too and agree that the most important thing is that a woman chose where she is comfortable. The movie is okay. I just wish it didn't demonize the hospital staff like it does. It makes it seem as though doctors just want the baby out so they can go play a round of golf. While some doctors may be that way I don't feel that the majority of doctors and nurses are. I do think there are times when the policies and procedures of a hospital may work against a laboring mother, but that is where being informed plays a huge role in the process. If you know what you want and what to expect you are much more likely to have the outcome that you want.

I work with several women who are pregnant or have recently given birth and I am amazed at the number who didn't or aren't taking birthing classes and who no nothing about the process of labor or the ability of their body to withstand it.

Unknown said...

For most of the history of people, birth was (and for many still is) a very dangerous process. I'm glad for the medical advances that we have now, and I'm extremely glad that you were in a hospital setting when you gave birth. I think it's got to be on each of us to educate ourselves and actively participate in our own lives. I do not understand the couple of women that I knew that didn't really have any idea what went on in the delivery room. Perhaps 'do what the dr. says' is just so ingrained in them that they just let all their responsibility go.