One woman's path through doula training, childrearing, and a computer science Ph. D. program

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Movie review: The Business of Being Born

The Business of Being Born. Directed by Abbey Epstein

My score


The continuum: Theatre - Matinee - Rental - Discount rental - Library

I would watch this movie at a matinee.

Amazon link

My review

Why does the United States have a higher maternal and infant mortality rate than other first-world (and even some third-world) countries? Why didn't the midwives move into the hospital when births did? Why has the home birth rate fallen from over 90% to less than 1% in just a hundred years?

Ricki Lake and her cohort answer these questions in several ways. First, like everything else, it's economics. C-section rates are around 30% because it's fast, clean, efficient. Induction and augmentation rates are high because it gets the beds filled and emptied faster. Doctors charge more than midwives. Second, it's the marketing. Not only does "midwife" have a bad connotation whereas "OB/Gyn" has a good one, but also the entertainment industry as a whole shows labor and childbirth as a grueling, terrifying, awful process. Movie stars opt out of natural birth and schedule c-sections. Third, it's the education. Women simply do not know what their options are, what the hospital procedures are at the location they choose to give birth, and many OBs have never attended a normal, natural birth before.

Now, we take this one step further.

Most women in the US miss out on the critical moment of mother-child bonding. That is, the flow of oxytocin, the love hormone --- the largest amount of oxytocin a mother ever experiences in her lifetime, that happens the moment after birth. Women miss out because oxytocin is formed as a response to the pain of labor and subsequent birth. With an epidural, pain is dulled; the bonding hormone does not flow in such great volume.

A monkey momma has no interest in her baby if the baby is delivered via c-section.

I'm not saying we as humans don't overcome this. We do. Oxytocin is also released when breastfeeding. And what human momma doesn't think her offspring is adorable? But breastfeeding rates drop for babies delivered with an epidural, and especially for c-sectioned babies. We can see how effective, on a benefits-to-baby scale, a particular birthing method or establishment is by studying how long, on average, a mother nurses her young.

If as many mothers birthed at home here in the US as in the Netherlands, for example, more babies would be breastfed for longer.

So, overall, a good movie, and informative. I would have liked more of a research element. I had to dock a point for the graphic c-section footage (ew!).

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