The Business of Being Born: My Thoughts

I recently watched the movie, The Business of Being Born. It was a good movie, and I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it or that it was as good as I was hoping. Many people I talked to said they absolutely loved it, so maybe I’m missing something. I did watch it in bed while dozing off, so perhaps I wasn’t fully into it.

I felt like, for the most part, it was very against hospital births. I agreed with a lot of the points made about hospital points, but also disagreed with some. The movie was very pro home birth- I mean, that was the whole point of the movie. Home births are awesome and wonderful and amazing, yes, but hospital are not always bad. Home births are certainly not for everyone either and they are not the only way to deliver a baby the “right way” or the “natural, healthy” way as this movie stressed sometimes.
I think it’s important to remember that it is possible to have a natural, drug free, amazing birth experience in a hospital. I can say this because it happened to me! I gave birth in a hospital and it was as natural as you could get. I even refused that they give me an IV shot “just in case.” I was fortunate enough to have great nurses, an awesome doctor and a doula. My birth was just as I wanted– and it was in a hospital.

     (A picture from Lucas’ birth. My birth story is here if you want to read it. ) 

I really don’t want to get into my own experience and opinions on hospitals vs. home births to much, but it’s important to share with you that you can have the birth you want in a hospital. You are in charge of your body and your baby and your birth and you deserve to have the birth you dream of, however you picture that. (Of course things can happen, and things don’t always go as you hoped or planned, we all know that.)
I could go on and on about this. On and on. Really. It could be an entire blog post x4 on how I feel about natural birth. 
Back to my review on the movie….
I was surprised to see Ricki Lake naked. I wasn’t expecting that. Obviously she was in labor, so it’s fine, I just didn’t expect for her to share her own labor video that’s all. (And heads up- If I ever decide to create a video for whatever reason, you will not see me naked in it, even if I’m giving labor.)
I loved watching the mamas give birth to their babies so naturally. It is such an amazing thing.
I didn’t like the way the movie ended. It just seemed like a short and weird way to end it.
Have you seen this movie? I think its a great movie to watch and brings up a lot of great points, however it’s also important to keep and open mind and do what works for you. Labor and birth doesn’t have to be such a controversial issue. It shouldn’t be. It’s birth. It’s bringing your child into this world.
I’d love to hear what you thought of the movie! Love it? Hate it?

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

24 thoughts on “The Business of Being Born: My Thoughts

  1. I've seen the movie. I enjoyed it. You are very blessed in the birth experience you had. If your experience had gone differently, I think you would feel differently about the movie.

  2. I liked the movie. I have had two natural hospital births. I would prefer to do a homebirth the next time, but since our insurance won't cover one, I will probably end up at the hospital again. I had good experiences despite not always having great nurses, but I definitely agree with the part of the movie that one intervention leads to another. And there can definitely be more pressure at the hospital to get those interventions going. Anywho… it was definitely biased a bit, but I go into all documentaries knowing that they probably will be.

  3. I think the movie was okay…but not great. The movie just made me feel awkward, like I shouldn't be watching it because I will never attempt a home birth. My first baby died at 16 weeks, we had a vaginal delivery. With my second I had a 12 hour labor and my baby didn't drop AT ALL even after I was fully dilated…I ended up having a c section and I will forever get comments now about how I GAVE UP. I later found out from the doctor my son was 10 pounds at 38 weeks, I am glad I had the c section because he was stuck. Not all women need them but I did. I am pregnant again…and this baby will be born in a hospital too. We are going to try to avoid a c section but if I have another it is not the end of the world.

  4. I like the movie. As a homebirthin' mama myself, I think home birth is amazing. BUT, above that I am an advocate of natural birth. THANK YOU for spreading the word that beautifully natural births are possible in a hospital. DOUBLE THANK YOU for mentioning your doula!! I think the use of doulas could drastically change the culture of birth in our country.

  5. GirlHouse-

    Yes, I agree with you. I realize I was VERY VERY blessed (and VERY thankful!!) with my birth and I do think I would feel very differently about the movie if it would have gone differently or if I would have been pressured for medication or something.

  6. I also like but did not love the movie, but I did really appreciate them pointing out the 'business' aspects that has come to be pervasive in childbirth. The idea that normal pregnancy/childbirth is something that you state retrospectively after all the monitoring and interventions done 'just in case'.

    I also appreciate their honesty in including the producer's story, whose pregnancy became high-risk requiring a cesarian birth.

  7. Joy,
    That's a good point… they could have lied- I was surprised her birth did end in C Section…. good points..

    I would love a home birth too (although hubby is NOT for it) and our insurance doesn't cover it either I don't think. 😦 Congrats on your 2 natural hospital births!!

  8. In my opinion the most important thing about this movie is that it prompts questions, thoughts, and discussion. For many people I know having a natural birth whether in a hospital or not meant making specific choices and knowing ahead of time what they wanted. Seeing other perspectives and options, which this movie provides, may be the catalyst for some to ask questions, do research, or forumulate their own opinion on what they want their birth to be. We are pregnant with our first baby and are planning a home birth. We live in Canada so our system is quite different from that portrayed in the movie. Our midwives are university trained, publically regulated, provide for your care at either home or hospital (or both in the case of non-emergency transfer), and are paid for/covered by our health care system (the same way OB's are). Thankfully our system provides equal opportunity/choice in health care provider, assuming you have a low risk pregnancy.

  9. I saw the movie once just over a year ago and while I LOVED seeing a woman giving birth at home- so calm and peaceful- I was kinda thrown off by how it ended. This year I read Cara Muhlhahn's memoir 'Labour of Love:A Midwife's Memoir' in which she discusses a bit about the movie and what happened with Abby. It makes a bit more sense now and I just watched the movie again last month.

    I'm glad that the movie brought up a number of important issues like the mortality rate being so high in the US but it still felt like such an awkward ending to the movie.

    I'm not into having a baby at home but I would LOVE to use the local birth centre. Unfortunately due to a medical condition I'm not eligible so I've given birth twice in the hospital. They were not very good experiences. I think a lot of it has to do with the hospital's policies and the staff there.

    Where I live in Canada midwives are funded through the government and have full hospital privileges so women have the choice if they want to see a midwife or a doctor (OB's are only used for high risk cases). Midwives can attend homebirths, births at birthing centres or at the hospital. You usually only have 1 ultrasound during a 'normal' pregnancy and there seem to be so many fewer interventions here than in the US like If your baby is breech it's not an automatic c-section.

    I have major issues with the state of birth in North America and I think bringing the issues up is helpful. I recommend soon to be moms see the video if not for anything else than to see what a beautiful experience natural birth can be because most of us have never attended a birth like that.

  10. I love the movie because it gives a different opinion on birth. I hate the end though. I once read a story written by the midwife on how they made the end birth look so dramatic and it wasn't. There was never an option of them staying home since the baby was premature and breech, but they made it seem that way in the movie.

    I do think the movie is there for people that want to know what else is out there. To know that pitocin and epidurals cause more problems than they help. I think you are so lucky to have had the birthing experience you did. It is so rare for that to happen in the hospital.

    I do think the movie is excellent because of how it shows birth. It's beautiful, not scary, and completely natural and wonderful. Even in other birth movies it doesn't show it as well as this one did.

  11. hey samantha! thought i'd comment from an epidural-user's point of view. i've seen parts of the movie and love the information. i think it's so very important to hear a lot so you can make choices for your own birth experience.
    my labor started on a thursday night and i didn't deliver until sunday afternoon. eek. the contractions through the first two nights were not unbearable, but definitely kept me awake. went to the hospital saturday evening with the intention of going drug-free , but allowing myself to change my mind. so, in the middle of the third sleepless night (around 3:30 am) i decided if i didn't get some rest i was not gonna get this baby out. got and epidural somewhere after that (i was bleary-eyed and don't remember exactly when they gave it to me). i slept some, hung out with my husband (who made the best birthing coach i could imagine) and was finally able to deliver vaginally after two hours of pushing. i believe with all my heart that the rest was the reason it didn't end in a c-section. i can truly say i LOVED my birth experience.
    i also have a friend who delivered her first four children (one set of twins) with no drugs and her fifth boy with an epidural. she said her last one actually went smoother and faster because she was able to relax.
    so, there it is. not pro-epidural, but pro-encouragement for those who have felt the stinging and hurtful accusations of others that using an epidural is a terrible choice/giving up/selfish. i understand the concern, but here are two good epidural experiences to add to the information. looking forward to october together!

  12. I saw the movie after my unnecessary c-section with my son. It made me very sad, and I wish I'd had all of that information prior to giving birth. It also showed me that I'm not cut out for the hospital birth experience – I want to be supported, not undermined. So my next birth will be at home.

  13. I didn't like the movie. I'm very pro natural birth and home birth (though I too had an all natural (water!) birth in a hospital, though I was lucky, you REALLY have to be on guard and ready to fight most of the time to get one, but i just feel more comfortable fighting and being in a hospital) but I dunno.. the message wasn't given very well at all IMO and the fact that the birth we were waiting for turned out to be a hospital c-section ruined it for me completely, and made me mad, TBH. I would not have watched it at all had I known it turned out like that.

  14. I have not seen that movie, but also have opinions on natural birth. I had two myself and would do it again in a heart beat. I did have short (4-7 hour active labors), so I can't say what I would do if I were to have labored for 20+ hours like so many women do.

    I think that many women do not go to the extent that they have the ability to because they did not prepare themselves for a natural birth. Meditation, breathing, and having an excellent coach/nurses are crucial.

    I watched my sister go through extreme back labor because her little girl was “sunny side up”. She got to 5-6 cm dilated and just could not physically do it anymore. She was in tears and I was almost in tears watching her. She got an epidural and I supported her every step of the way.

    In the end, it is every woman's choice on how they give birth to their child.

  15. I loved TBOBB. (but loved Orgasmic Birth even more!) I had already made my decision to home birth when we watched it.

    I so, so, so wish that there were more hospitals and nurses like the ones you had. In our hospitals, natural birth only happens less than 10% of the time and the c-section rate is 38%. (80% induction rate) This area totally sucks for natural birth.

  16. i have had 2 natural hospital births and loved it. there was never any pressure from my dr or hospital staff to do otherwise. if i remember correctly i don't think there was ever more than just the dr's original question on if i wanted any pain medication/epidural. when i said no it was never mentioned again- is this uncommon? i could not imagine my dr suggesting anything that i didn't want. the staff at my wisconsin hospital was wonderful and always there when i needed them and answered all my questions. i had a great experience and will go back there as long as my insurance allows me too.

  17. I am a little nervous about giving birth a new hospital with a new doctor. I hope it's as good as a my first, but people keep telling me my experience was so good and usually doctors/nurses aren't that good??!

    I hope it's the same.. but I realize things can happen and they might not go my way!

  18. loved it. watched the movie. had a wonderful homebirth and plan to do the same with the next one. I agree with you, birth shouldn't be so complicated! It's a wonderful thing no matter where it takes place! 🙂 so glad to hear you had a great hospital experience, esp since i'm a hospital nurse.

  19. I applaud you for posting your opinions on something so controversial! I haven't seen the movie, as of yet, but I agree everyone is different and every experience is different.

  20. I've seen the movie as well and felt that it was a great documentary on home births. I didn't really get the “anti-hospital” vibe, more like they were just listing facts on c-section rates.

    I had one hospital birth with an epidural and one natural hospital birth. I had good experiences with both.

    HOWEVER, I cannot wait to give birth at home or at a birth center next time. I am done with hospitals.

  21. your hospital experience shocks me! Supportive nurses who have witnessed (or had themselves) a totally natural birth and a doctor who has done the same is key here. Once you hit active labor all reasoning shuts down and your primal brain takes over. So if you have a pushy nurse or a MEDwife/OB who is time crunched you're going to be bullied into drugs and or augmentation.
    I went with a midwife for my daugther's birth. I went into labor at 37w2d and my daughter was in the military position. The nurses told me I wasn't in labor even with ctx 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 60-80 seconds. I was stuck at 3-4cm and 80% efface. For 30 hours. I went home twice when the nurse wouldn't even look at me- only the computer, and gave me textbook definitions of labor. I screamed in the nurses' face that I was in labor and I needed to relax. They gave me a dose of stadol and I bounced, swayed, and labored on all 4's in the shower for 7 hours. That got me to 6-7cm. The nurse that came on that morning would squeeze my shoulder and say “Honey, you know with an epidural you're not going to feel any of this and you can get some sleep” I gave in to her in tears. after 34 hours of labor. As I was melting into the bed from the epi, my nurse came back in and told me that the pit was on the way! I yelled “no! I can do this on my own! I already have an epidural!” She shook her head and told me that once you order it, you can't undo the order. Then she went on to say that I had been in labor so long that I should just get it over with. Theyhad been telling me for almost 3 days that I wasn't in labor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    She was born 1 hour later after 30 minutes of pushing. My “midwife” showed up after I had started pushing and after my daugther came out face up with her chin deflexed that laboring with a baby in the military position is the most intense labor there is. She said that most moms end up with an instant c-section if it's discovered during labor. That's the only thing I'm thankful for- that no one respected me enough as a woman about to bring life into the world to listen to me.
    Sorry for that novel! Needless to say, We're homebirthing for any other babies we have, and already have found an independant midwife we LOVE!

    I loved TBOBB. It made me cry knowing that I became another statistic the day my daughter was born. I cried for what could have been and feel hopeful for what WILL be one day.

  22. I haven't seen the movie but I SO agree with you that labor shouldn't be a controversial topic. It's funny how people feel that they can tell you how wrong (or right) you are to do things a certain way when it comes to having your baby – I believe you should do what feels right to you and that there's nothing more natural than having a baby whether you choose to add some medical intervention to the mix or not. We shouldn't be made to feel guilty for doing things one way or another… mom's have enough to worry about, how their baby makes it into the world shouldn't be one of them.

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