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Tuesday
Oct092007

How "The Business of Being Born" Is Going

It's been fantastic showing The Business of Being Born here at the office! While there are still trickles of people, the feedback has been phenomenal.

When someone goes in as a natural birth advocate, they come out a natural birth fanatic. I am not kidding. We've watched as pregnant woman after pregnant woman walked into the movie a hospital patient and walk out with a list of midwives in their hand or Dr. Wonderful's card if they are still unsure about birthing outside of the hospital.

The movie is transforming. Absolutely transforming.

Despite my earlier critique, watching it a dozen more times has softened my initial concerns about the movie. Listening to the comments from lay folks also helped.

When we had the group of CNMs and LMs, they had similar thoughts as I about how the movie ended (with an emergency cesarean), but the lay folks haven't had any such concerns and haven't read nearly as much psychology into it as I did, so I've learnt to relax about my initial concerns. They were/are certainly microscopic midwifery thoughts and I don't discuss them with audiences that don't bring them up. In fact, until tonight, no one else said anything (she was a CNM) and I asked her if we might discuss it in private so as to not taint the viewpoint of the others in the room. The rest of the guests seemed pleased that I did so.

Today, I wrote this piece that I would love to see sent out all over the place. Feel free to cut and take it - with my name attached, please - and spread it like confetti! This movie needs to be seen.

---------------------------------

“The Business of Being Born” & Its Effect on Audiences

by Barbara E. Herrera, LM, CPM

I’ve watched fourteen audiences walk into and then out of Ricki Lake’s childbirth advocacy movie “The Business of Being Born,” and the word that stands out is transformed.

Natural birth advocates leave natural birth fanatics.

Pregnant women walk into the movie as patients at local hospitals and walk out with resolute plans to leave their doctors and find a midwife for a birth they know will be safe and respectful.

I’ve role played with women who want out-of-hospital births (or out of unsupportive doctors) after seeing the film, but whose partners (who wouldn’t attend the screening) are fearful – helping them with ideas to get their loved ones to the movie.

And families who were initially hesitant to support a midwifery-attended birth have become ardent supporters intent on converting their misunderstanding friends.

I’m finding it challenging to get the press to either view the movie or to cover the importance of it in our community. It seems some people find natural birth not newsworthy… a big ol’ yawn.

But, how can any thinking person who cares about the effects of hormonal attachment/detachment that occurs during birth in our culture find this unimportant? How could someone yawn about the economics of slicing a person open for convenience's sake (the convenience of the clock, the wallet and the courtroom)? I would think that someone with any semblance of a heart would "get" that birth as it stands today is abhorrent and a complete overhaul is needed.

This movie explains why it goes far, far beyond having or having not medication at birth... it is an entire mindset of respect for a woman's autonomy and the understanding that choices in birth create the most amazing human beings that walk in our neighborhoods. Damaged women and babies do nothing but hurt the world... why foster the continuation of such cruelty?

If the right people saw the movie, the word would get out. That is what is so challenging about the publicity surrounding this movie. It has amazing amounts of well-documented –and jaw-dropping – information that relatively few know about. The people seeing the movie could quote the statistics chapter and verse! It’s those that haven’t seen the movie that need to plop their butts in the seats and then they need to tell others about it from their points of view.

If you’re reading this, you can do your part by either attending the movie yourself if it is in your area (check www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com) or sponsoring a viewing.

If you are so inclined to educate the public about the movie, write letters and send fliers to whomever you can – the press, letters to the editor, your email lists, friends, family, support groups, children’s pre-schools, middle and high school health and sex education teachers, women’s studies programs, child development programs, psychology classes, childbirth education teachers, local midwives (including Nurse-Midwives), La Leche League leaders, head nurses on Labor & Delivery floors, friendly obstetricians, chapter leaders of the International Cesarean Awareness Network, local leaders of midwifery organizations, natural clothing stores, cloth diaper suppliers, childbirth educators and lactation educators as well as putting fliers on bulletin boards at natural food stores and attachment parenting baby stores, Babies R Us and other kid-friendly stores and locations.

Together, we can bring more people to know what we’ve known for far too long. Birth can – and should be – an honored and cherished experience, no matter where, or how, it occurs. It is in the knowledge of options and in the light of respect and humanity that birth becomes perfection.

Perfection is rightfully ours.

Reader Comments (10)

I hope it makes its way to New Zealand. cheers Sarah

October 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Stewart

Don't you feel at least somewhat dishonest that you don't describe as fully the risks of homebirth as well?

Judging by the opening paragraph where you state "When we had the group of CNMs and LMs, they had similar thoughts as I about how the movie ended (with an emergency cesarean), but the lay folks haven't had any such concerns and haven't read nearly as much psychology into it as I did, so I've learnt to relax about my initial concerns. They were/are certainly microscopic midwifery thoughts and I don't discuss them with audiences that don't bring them up. In fact, until tonight, no one else said anything (she was a CNM) and I asked her if we might discuss it in private so as to not taint the viewpoint of the others in the room." it certainly seems to me that you are willfully avoiding giving viewers a balanced picture, by not telling them just how dangerous home birth can be, especially when an untrained birth attendant instead of a CNM is chosen. And ALL DEMs have less education and experience than CNMs--do you also explain this to your clients?

October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAntigonos

That wasn't the concern.

The issue was how the movie ended. That it ended with a cesarean and how odd that was and how it seemed that perhaps Abby was processing her cesarean through the movie. We felt it was very odd that she was bottle feeding, too. The lay folks don't seem to be bringing up the issue at all, therefore I don't.

Watching the movie and talking about it with the CNMs, the midwife did make the correct choices about transferring. The only question some still had was doing a vaginal exam, but if she was considering an ambulance versus taxi trip, then a vaginal exam would have been warranted.

No, I don't think I am avoiding anything with the lay audiences. The nuances I was speaking about were merely artistic, not clinical.

October 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I'm not going to comment on the movie, because I haven't seen it, but I just gotta answer antigonos question with another question before I answer her question.

You are a CNM, who I admit has "different" training from what I have, and I'm not familiar with Isreali birth protocols, only those here in the US. Do *you* inform your clients just how dangerous a hospital birth can be? Do you warn them that just by leaving their homes, they have set themselves on the path to increased risk of maternal and/or infant morbidity? Do you give true informed consent about each and every risk or benefit about that fetal monitor, the bolus of IV fluids, the cervadil, the pitocin, the cytotec, the episiotomy, the Nubain or Stadol, the antibiotics, the denial of food and drink, the artifical rupture of membranes, the forced immobility, the vacuum extractor or forceps? Do you tell them that just by stepping inside a hospital, they have increased their odds of having their baby surgically removed by nearly 50%? Are you infomring them that the hospital has more germs crawling around than a public restroom, and the risk of them or their babies developing a serious or life-threatening infection is increased? That numerous vaginal exams by various staff members may cause a intra-uterine infection? Do you tell them that insurance companies pay more for surgical births, and reward OB/GYNs with lower premiums for performing more c-sections? And do you tell them that hospital administraters encourage c-sections because it means less liability for them, and that it generates more income? Are *you* truly, honestly, giving a "balanced picture"?

Less education? Less experience? I'd say "different" education and experience. I have little education or experience in giving a labouring woman narcotics, but because of it's inherent dangers it has no place in a normal birth. On the other hand, I know plenty of hospital birth practicioners who have neither the training nor time to offer a labouring woman non-pharmaceutical comfort measures, which *have* been proven safe and quite effective.

"Different" education, "different" experiences, not "less".
IMO, those who are not trained in abnormal pregnancies and births should be deferring care to those who ARE trained in handling the not normal, just as those who's training focused on managing complicated pregnancies and births should be deferring care of those normal, healthy pregnant women to those who are trained to care for them.

There's plenty of pregnant women to go around, and not nearly enough providers to appropriately care for them. If I'm taking care of those women who are low risk and healthy, that leaves more time for YOU to effectively take care of those women who need your specialized training and experience, and that leaves more time for Dr. Degree to effectively take care of those who need HIS specialized training and experiences. And from there we can truly improve the maternal and infant outcomes.

October 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermamarose

Antigonos- I saw the movie and am a lay person. The movie made it very clear that a midwife should be trained and prepared.

The midwife in an emergency in an emergency (6 weeks early breach baby with a cord around its neck) was able to succsessfully transfer the mother and child to a hospital.

As a culture we are bombarded with the "risks" of homebirth, this is the other side of the argument. Kind of like a rebuttle to society in general. It might be good to see the movie before making judgements about how unbalanced it is.

The Maternal Death rate is on the rise in this country. This has nothing to do with an increase in home births as only about 1% of people have home births. (See: http://ourbodiesourblog.org/blog/2007/09/double_dose_maternal_deaths_on_the_rise_surge.php#comments)


So there are risks these days in a hospital in America as well.


Barb- I posted your write up on my blog: http://nakedthoughts.wordpress.com/

I'm trying to talk it up among my friends as well.

October 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternakedthoughts

Hi Barb,

Just wanted to let you know that I have posted your write-up on my midwifery advocacy blog, way up here in the Yukon: http://yukonmidwifery.blogspot.com/

I'm excited about seeing whether we can get a screening up here!

October 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFawn

Antigonos, I agree that NGM "should" have taken the question and answered fully in front of the audience. So what if they didn't get it (at first). That's what education is about, and by keeping it from them, there is the impression there's something to hide. So what if others in the room get their viewpoint tainted? That's the point of education and informed consent, and as I see it, there's an attempt to taint viewpoints all over America with this movie, and that's a good thing! Why be so afraid of lively discussion and explaining what may seem difficult to explain? Fully offering information means taking the chances that people won't always agree.

However, I am curious, Antigonos, what experience you actually have in homebirth to be able to actually hold such judgment about how "dangerous" it is. In reality of practice, it's NOT dangerous, and even in medical studies, it has been validated repeatedly to be at least as safe or safer than hospital birth. If you do indeed have significant experience in homebirth, if you think it's so dangerous, I argue that you haven't been adequately trained in homebirth and carry unnecessary fear which has no place in any birth room anyway. This does not mean any midwife goes around saying that mothers and babies are guaranteed to be healthy and alive after a birth anywhere, but if your opinion of homebirth is that it's dangerous, it doesn't seem likely you have any true experience in it to be able to publicize that opinion as "fact."

DEMs do not have less education and experience than CNMs, and with that statement, it validates again that you are inexperienced in a field you are publicizing to be knowledgeable in. DEMs are extraordinarily experienced in homebirth and natural birth, and most CNMs have no training in homebirth, often lacking complete experience in natural birth as well unless they've gone out of their way to acquire that experience; likewise, DEMs have little or no training in the use of hospital procedures and equipment.

October 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Posting a link to your article on my weblog and ICAN chapter website. Printing out a copy of your article for my bulletin board at the Uni. Quoting you for advertising (if that's ok).

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 17, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlabortrials

I read this quote on a doula board then linked to your page here. "it is an entire mindset of respect for a woman's autonomy and the understanding that choices in birth create the most amazing human beings that walk in our neighborhoods. Damaged women and babies do nothing but hurt the world... why foster the continuation of such cruelty?"
Ok this Quote scares the hell out of me! How can we condemn MOTHERS and BABIES to do nothing but HURT the world. What a truly hateful statement. So if a mom doesn't use her choices and by some circumstance of birth she(in her or others perception) is "damaged" she and her baby are doomed. Holy cow what a guilt trip. How can this be called respect for women? Give me a misogynist ob over that any day at least I'll know what I'm dealing with up front.
I felt "damaged" after my 1st birth( now see it entirely different)and it called me to become what I am today. How did i hurt the world?
Ok I'll stop ranting but I have really never been so offended by a quote before.

October 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralunamom

Alunamom,

Your choice to hear what I said as saying that damaged women and babies are the ones that DO the hurting in the world is sad to me. It also is pretty indicative that you know nothing of who I am, of what I stand for and certainly haven't read anything else that I've written, so I'll just say - that isn't remotely what I was saying and I can't think many people would think I was saying that either.

I *was* saying that the damaged women and babies hurt/cause pain/cause the world to suffer... continue the suffering our world feels because they have not been cared for properly... that it is in the women and babies' pain, we ALL continue suffering. And we must stop that suffering.

Does that explain it better?

October 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

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