I was having a BBM conversation with a friend yesterday who was talking about her experience with an OB and how she refused to be induced and refused another medical intervention after the baby was born. It was at that point that I asked her if she’d seen the documentary, The Business of Being Born. She hadn’t, but was intrigued and I told her it would definitely be something to watch.

The film was released in 2008 and produced by Ricki Lake and filmed by Abby Epstein. It explores America’s maternity care system, and provides an interesting comparison between hospital and midwifery care. I was loaned a copy from my prenatal fitness instructor and I’m really glad I watched it (and watched it again today on Netflix).

If I had watched this film before getting pregnant or in my early weeks of pregnancy, I probably would have been easily persuaded to go directly to a midwife and even consider a home birth. While it offers some explanation as to why a hospital birth with an OB or surgeon might be the way to go (abnormal pregnancy, high-risk, etc), it does paint a rather negative view of medical professionals who just want to intervene in order to deliver babies on a timed-schedule that they think is right or that gives them an opportunity to perform advanced procedures. The nurses pitocin conversations in the hallways of the maternity ward are particularly eye-opening, and it does start to make you think about whether some medical professionals are rushing a natural process.

My husband I actually selected a midwife because that’s what my GP recommended. He informed us that we could still have a hospital birth but receive a much better level of care with a midwife. He was right.

Looking at my medical papers (that I now carry in my purse at 40 weeks and 4 days), we’ve had 11 visits with our midwife. The average visit length is anywhere from a half hour to 45 minutes and the majority of that time is a dialogue between the three of us that involves learning about the stages of pregnancy and labour, and answering questions from both sides. We’ve been reassured about the process of labour, and encouraged by our midwife’s expertise who always has an answer or solution for everything from rib pain to how contractions will feel. Of course, we always get time to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and a proper measurement and blood pressure check.

Watching the documentary again today reaffirmed my sense of confidence in our choice to use a midwife, because we get the care and expertise we deserve, but we also get to deliver in a hospital which gives peace of mind if there is a problem that requires the support of a pediatrician or surgeon.

I won’t spoil the ending of the film, but if you have a chance to watch it, you’ll understand why I feel the way I do.

How did you feel after watching the Business of Being Born?


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