Belly Laughs vs The Business of Being Born

by Milton on Mon, Nov 16th, 2009

in Doctors, midwives, and doulas,Documentaries,Managing risk,Week 16

I read Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs book a couple days ago.  Wow.  It’s scary to think that she’s encouraging women to act like her, in my opinion.

On the other side of the spectrum, we watched the Business of Being Born last night.  That’s a pretty great documentary.  I think it was meant to be controversial, and to show the worst of hospitals, and I don’t think all hospitals are as ignorant and backwards as the ones depicted (Seattle’s Swedish, for instance). However, I think the fact that more light should be brought to the midwifery traditions and practices is definitely called for.

According to our midwife, that documentary and the book Pushed have both contributed to a surge in business for midwives in the last few years.

Only 1% of births in the United States are done via midwives, and only a fraction of those are home births.  Seattle’s a little different, and actually has between 4-7% of births through midwives.  I think it might be because of the better insurance policies that allow them to be covered.  So hopefully this number will grow.

One of the great and unexpected things about The Business of Being Born is that the film-maker is pregnant during the making of the movie.  Of course, after all this talk about home births and everything, she ends up having pre-term labor and a C-section at a hospital, and had to keep her baby in NICU for 3 weeks.

The reason I think that’s great (in the documentary’s sense, not in the sense that the baby had such a scary beginning) is because every doctor in the movie is like “what if something scary happens?” and this is the answer… you go to the hospital.  Hospitals aren’t inherently bad, it’s just that they are designed to deal with emergencies and dangerous medical conditions.  Most births, however, are not in this category, and could just as easily (and some argue more safely and nicely) be handled outside of the hospital system.  For the 10-15% of births that have complications, it’s awesome that hospitals are there to help, and this fact has a lot to do with the lowering maternal mortality and baby mortality in the last 100 years.

Anyway, it’s just so interesting to think about all of this.  I keep trying to remember how we first started down this midwife/home birth track–I remember being just as pro-epidural as the next person before Esther got pregnant.  We are trained to be afraid of birth.  And, as the non-participatory husband, of course fear is even more justified because all of this is happening to Esther, not me, and therefore the lack of control is scary.

This is merely how I feel now, and reserve the right to change my mind at any point along this pregnancy.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Callie Tue, Nov 17th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I don’t know if you guys have decided on any type of birth class, but I really recommend Bradley classes. My husband and I took them when I was pregnant and they helped to prepare us for a natural birth. The classes help you to get a better understanding of what is happening during labor, and I think that knowing what’s going on helps eliminate most of the fear.


2 Kristy Mon, Nov 30th, 2009 at 5:35 am

Also if you guys are at all interested, my friend is a hypnobirth instructor. She used it for her 2nd child and was so amazed by the experience that she became a licensed hypnotherapist for others. It’s a good thing if you are not planning on using any drugs for pain relief. I wish I had known about it when I was pregnant. Although I had to be induced which involved scary pitocin and unbearable pain, so I had to go the epidural route but with normal deliveries especially in a home environment, I think hypnobirthing is the way to go from what I’ve read.


3 Milton Thu, Dec 3rd, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I’m just learning about hypnobirth right now. Looks interesting, and totally compatible with the home birth + midwife method. Can your friend point me to the best book and anybody she might know in the Seattle area?


4 Joshua Daniel Franklin Thu, Dec 10th, 2009 at 12:43 am

We did the evening course from Carrie Kenner at Big Belly Services:
It was fantastic and started us on friendships with other urban Seattle parents. We were a little late, though–our daughter was born in the 5th week of the 7 week course!


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