This Tuesday, our class viewed the film The Business of Being Born. In this 2008 documentary by Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein, the topic of childbirth in the United States was explored. Previous to viewing this film, my knowledge of childbirth methods was comprised of ten episodes of A Baby Story (Don’t judge me!). Moreover, while Western society has accepted the hospital as the only setting for childbirth, the film suggests otherwise. For instance, the film is critical of the lithotomy position commonly utilized during labor, in which the mother is encouraged to push while on her back. According to one midwife interviewed, because this position decreases the size of the pelvis, it in turn increases the likelihood of having to deliver a baby with forceps or a vacuum extractor.
Additionally, prior to viewing this film, I was unaware of the dangers of the “interventions” commonly employed by the medical establishment. For instance, in order to speed up the labor process, often, women unnecessarily receive the drug Pitocin. Pitocin, which can cause adverse side effects, may require the use of additional medication. Moreover, the film suggests that the medical establishment often maximizes “visits, tests, and procedures to increase their profits from patients” (Business of Being Born 2008). After finishing this film, I immediately called my mother to hear her experience giving birth to me. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the specific details, but it was interesting to hear how my birth involved numerous medical interventions, including the use of Pitocin, epidural and a cesarean section. However, while I believe this film does shed light on homebirths and midwifery, is it enough to fully reverse the stigma attached to both? Moreover, it would be interesting to see the effect of our economic recession on birthing methods. For instance, as natural home births are far less expensive then its hospital counterpart, are more people utilizing the former today?