Birth and Media

So today we watched “The Business of Being Born” in class, and it definitely altered my opinion of both hospital and home births.  Usually when I think of home births, I think of weird hippie-type women, who are not at all apart of mainstream society.  But, after seeing this documentary, I realize how much my view of home births – and I’m sure many others’, too – are flawed.  While one of the major factors is our society’s obsession with medicinal cures for everything, I think another main cause is the media.  One of the first things I thought of while watching this film is the movie “The Back-Up Plan” with Jennifer Lopez.  In this film – which was a flop, by the way, so don’t bother watching it unless you like stupid chick-flicks – Jennifer Lopez’s character decides that she wants to be a mother on her own, and thus gets artificially inseminated.  She joins an expecting mothers club and becomes friends with several other pregnant women from different backgrounds.  In this group of women, one of them has decided to have a home birth.  The way that the movie presents her home birth is as if it is some sort of tribal ritual.  The woman invites all of her friends over for a dinner party before the home birth.  Obviously, this is not how a real home birth would be executed, since it is supposed to be a comfortable environment for family and the midwife only.  Also, one of the friends begins beating on a drum signaling that she was ready to go into the water.  The other women at the event sing tribal tunes, and the birthing mother’s pain utterances are made to be comical.  The whole home birthing process is portrayed as a real bizarre, strange, foreign ritual that “normal” women are disgusted by.  Frankly, the movie makes fun of home births in a roundabout way.  I think that images like this are what have informed my own perception of home births.  “The Business of Being Born” however has allowed me to see how corrupt the medical institution is and how home births are not bizarre at all.  In fact, the amount of intervention and drugs used in the hospital should be viewed as more bizarre, since home births are closer to the natural birthing process as it should be.

-Mallory Thayer

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