get the hell out of the hospital…

The Business of Being BornOhh, shivers! Tonight we watched a documentary that was very through-provoking in a number of ways. It was The Business of Being Born
(which is a very accurate title for the subject matter) and it basically covers the difference between “regular” hospital births and midwife attended, both at home and in the hospital. As someone who was involved in a birth the straddled these lines, both in the sense of planning on a midwife attended natural childbirth, but having it be a conducted in a hospital, and who watched the progression of suggested interventions, this did ring quite close to home.

The Business of Being Born
is told mainly through interviews with OB/GYN’s (both American and European) and midwives, with lots of footage of births and birthing processes, both at home and in the hospital. It is very blunt, both in its message and its methods. Starting with the basic fact that the United States has: the industrial worlds highest rates of hospital births, highest rate of cesarean sections and also the most expensive births. From which this country ends up with about the worst rates for infant and mother mortality in the industrialized world! The filmmakers look at the smear campaigns against midwives in the early 20th centuries and some of the horrible practices used against women going through child birth in the decades since then (some of these are too much to stomach watching). There is one troubling segment where they discuss how once medical intervention is begun (generally under the guise of relieving pain for the mother), each step of intervention leads to effects that pretty much require a further step of intervention. All of which ends up in an unhealthy, expensive (and for some, quite disappointing) viscous circle of even increasing intervention.

They thoroughly point out that only in a small numbers of cases is there any reason for childbirth to be a surgical procedure or even a hospital event, yet in this country that it what it has become in the vast majority of cases. It becomes obvious that they are using the ever-present American tactic of “giving direction through fear” to keep childbirth a profit center (for many: hospital profits, insurance companies profits, ensuring enough highly billable work for doctors) and to undermine (if not quash) traditional, logic and natural means of doing that for which the human was actually designed to do. Of course to me it all brings to mind the old RIAA philosophy of seeing anything that doesn’t feed these good old boy profits centers as some kind of evil or ignorant foolishness.

Anyway, I digress. The Business of Being Born is a project of Ricki Lake (but no, she is neither irritating or obnoxious here) which she was inspired to make after undergoing a hospital birth. Conveniently, the director got pregnant while the film was in production and her experience was worked into the film. All in all, even for one as skeptical of the Establishment as I am, it was still quite eye-opening. And unsettling, and maddening. The fear that people are saddled with (to bring gain to the greedy), and the limits of what the Establishment will do to defend itself against reason can be a little hard to take in such potent doses.


One Response to “get the hell out of the hospital…”

  1. virginia creitz on December 8, 2009 13:50

    Unfortunately sometimes you don’t know if you are the one who needs the hospital until the birth begins and if you are at home you could endanger your child to be born. I can think of one such child who would have been in a bad way if not for the hospital intervention. I agree most could be born at home, but for mothers who want everything to be the best possible outcome don’t want to take a chance. Of course I don’t think all they do in the hospital is good and I am as critical as many about it, but I am glad to have had hospital births as are many.

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