Road Scholars on an Eduvacation!
Yes, we're moving on again, but this time like we mean it. In an RV.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So I finally saw The Business of Being Born last night - I know, old news, but it takes me a while to get to movies, and we just finally joined Netflix. This was the first movie we got through them, actually! I suppose it was a good film for the masses; there was a lot of good information there that people not already involved in this homebirth subculture would benefit from knowing. And it's always a pleasure to see Marsden, Michel, and Ina May impart their wisdom. :)

BUT. REALLY. Did Abby and Ricki not see the irony of ending their women-don't-need-to-be-saved-by-doctors movie with a woman being saved by a doctor? Or did they just not care? Or do they really not get it, or what? Maybe someone (Linda?) better involved with the forum circuit when this actually came out can let me know if they had a comment about that. Sigh.

Personally, this film made me once-again-relieved that I've never had to experience a hospital birth, and also really solidified my belief in unassisted birth. The homebirths were good to watch, but I was frustrated watching Ricki, during her homebirth, ask for PERMISSION to push. Clearly her body was pushing on its own, and still she looked to an authority figure for permission. Argh. There will not be true empowerment until women can understand that this is something they have the power to do themselves! How on earth can someone standing next to you know what's best in your own body? People have lost the ability to hear what their own bodies are telling them (in many more ways than just birthing!)

And I was very uncomfortable seeing the poor dad in one of the homebirths (it might have been a birth center?) totally pushed to the side by the womenfolk, intimidated by these in-charge midwives to even be near his birthing wife, so hesitant to claim his place at her side, or to even touch her or their baby. This is a travesty. Fathers need to be empowered by this experience too! I think this happens a lot, where the women in authority come in and assume this is a women-only event. This should be a COUPLES-only event. . .that father planted this baby-gift and it's his place to receive it along with his partner; I really believe that this practice of negating the importance of fathers at birth is compromising the ability of fathers to attach and bond easily with their families, and it's just a huge sadness for me. I believe this negatively effects our whole society - how can it not? The family unit is the basic building block of everything, and it is diseased. We must bring health, empowerment, confidence, and love back to our homes, and it will radiate from there out into the world.


Laura Shanley said...

I also had mixed feelings about the film. It's certainly a step in the right direction, but was too focused on midwives for my liking. I would have rather heard more from the moms who gave birth, and less from the midwives who attended them. Society has long given credit to those who "rescue" women from birth - whether it's a doctor, a midwife or a cab driver. It's time we started focusing on the REAL stars of birth: the mother, the baby, and ideally the father.

I'm certainly not anti-midwife (although all of my babies were born unassisted), but I also don't believe in glorifying them, which I felt this film did. Midwife knows best, not mother. I was also disappointed to see director Abby Epstein's comment on an ABC news article recently in which she stated that she and Ricki Lake do not want to be connected with the unassisted birth movement, as they advocate "informed choice and increased birth options for every expectant mother." The implication, of course, is that unassisted birth isn't an informed choice.

I do think the film is doing much to educate people about the dangers of hospital birth, and for this I commend Abby and Ricki. But I truly think they need to ask themselves if they're promoting freedom in birth for all women or simply freedom in birth for midwives and the women who choose to hire them. If they're promoting freedom in birth for all women, then they cannot exclude unassisted birth, as this is a choice that more and more women are making. Thanks for your post!

greenmeg said...

You might want to check out Pregnant in America, which I thought was much better than the Business of Being Born. It was made by a non-famous husband of an expecting woman, and they traveled all over to several different countries where homebirthing is the norm. They still focus on midwives a bit, but interview some of the greats like InaMay. I thought the exploration of the spiritual/emotional aspects and his role as the father were nice. It's a much more negative portrayal of the medical community than I've seen previously - I think he wasn't afraid to step on toes the way that Ricki Lake may have been. I know you don't need any of the info in it, but it might be interesting to compare and contrast. It's also available on Netflix.

Kelli said...

Laura, I appreciate your comments! And I really agree that their idea of acceptable types of homebirth is quite narrow - they imply that only CNMs (with their oxygen, needles, blood pressure cuffs, dopplers and Pitocin stash) are appropriate attendants, when there are so many lovely, experienced lay midwives out there who have been catching babies for decades. I felt like showing the old propoganda sheets of sloppy Hungarian midwives (or whatever) was serving THEIR purpose as well, in direct opposition to the opening scene of the RN/midwife packing her bag with all of the medical essentials, which was clearly the main image they wanted to get across as to what makes homebirth a safe option.

Sigh! But, again, it's a step in the right direction for mainstream America to be seeing this sort of thing. I am looking forward to the 20/20 tonight. . .there's been so much news coverage lately! Even negative publicity can be a good thing, and it shows that we're making headway - SOMEONE out there must be feeling threatened, and that's always a sure sign of growing numbers of freethinkers! :)

Meg, I will put Pregnant in America on our list right away - sounds great! Thanks for the suggestion!

Nydia said...

Hello, Kelli!! Missing you, my friend. How are you and your sweet family? And your baby-to-be? Hope eveything is ok and in good health. Now you got me all curious about this film. And it would be wonderful if we had more home births happening in Brazil.

I'm already in Minas Gerais living at my in-laws while our house is being built. When you have some time, take a look at my blog to see the photos of the construction!

Kisses from Nydia.

Linda said...

Oh, I read this when you posted it and meant to comment, but then it just seemed too daunting, being as I could write a few pages about what I didn't like about it. :p Anyway I agree with you that it's at least a step in the right direction. I know a lot of more mainstream people who really felt they learned a lot, whereas something more radical might have been too much for them. :)