Guest Writers

A Film That Touches Lives

1 Comment 04 November 2011

This post is part of a week long series leading up to the release of More Business of Being Born on November 8th. Come back to the Bring Birth Home blog daily to read the personal stories of seven women as they share “How The Business of Being Born Impacted My Life.”

by Jessica English

A few months after I first saw The Business of Being Born, a midwife at a local hospital asked me if I’d be willing to help spread the word about a screening on their campus.

Yes, yes, yes!

I was thrilled to help, and so impressed that a hospital-based midwifery group was going out on a limb to show a film that was not so friendly to the hospital model – all in the name of getting our community talking about birth.

The lead-up to the screening revealed some internal hospital politics.

A beautiful poster was vetoed by the PR department at the last possible second and replaced with a much less eye-catching, photocopied design. I was invited to participate in the Q&A panel afterward, then the invitation was rescinded when it was decided that the panel should include hospital staff only.

Still…a local hospital was showing The Business of Being Born!

I was just so thrilled that our community would not only have a public screening but that it was being sponsored by one of our local hospitals. A hospital. A-MA-ZING.

About 100 people attended that night, and the Q&A afterward went well. It was a lovely piece of an ever-deepening conversation about birth in our community. I was, and am so grateful to Ricki and Abby for this film – an eye-opener and a conversation starter.

Today, many students come to my natural childbirth class already having seen The Business of Being Born.

A doula client’s husband won my heart recently when he told me in all sincerity and awe that there was this really great film called The Business of Being Born, and I really should check it out.

I have worked with a number of women who were planning a very traditional, medical route for their births… until someone suggested they watch this film. In some cases, their plans swung ‘round 180 degrees.

A small percentage of my students and clients choose to birth at home, and their extended families don’t always understand that choice.

In several instances, watching The Business of Being Born together has helped a family reach a mutual understanding, with respect for the new mother’s decision, if not total peace or acceptance (although occasionally that too). What a gift for these families.

All that said, I’m not an unquestioning adoring fan.

There are things that I don’t love about The Business of Being Born.

I’ve come to peace with the ending, but still feel it might have been pieced together a bit differently so as not to leave folks hanging with quite so much drama (as dramatic as the real-life situation of a hospital transfer must have been). After a movie so filled with peace and calm, I would have liked to have seen the film come full circle back to those images at the end.

Perhaps more importantly, if I could change anything I would refocus the movie to contrast “the medical model” and “the midwifery model,” rather than so much focus on “hospital” vs. “home.”

This is the complaint I hear most often from students and clients, too — that the film is so anti-hospital and they are just not comfortable making the leap to home birth. Although you can’t have a home birth in the hospital, I also know that with the right provider many women can certainly have beautiful, natural hospital births. I see them all the time! I am still waiting for the film that tells that story.

By and large, though, I am so incredibly grateful for The Business of Being Born.

I have seen it touch lives in a way no other media resource has been able to do.

In our global quest to change birth, I feel we are each called upon to use our talents and strengths to help make a difference.

Thank you, Ricki and Abby for using your amazing filmmaking talents to help create real and lasting change. At just under four years old, The Business of Being born is clearly a permanent classic. Bring on More Business of Being Born!

Jessica English is a mother of two boys, writer and owner of Birth Kalamazoo. Her group offers birth and postpartum doula services, natural childbirth and breastfeeding classes, and in-home lactation consulting, along with free monthly Birth Matters meetings and other community classes and events. You can learn more at Birth Kalamazoo’s website, Facebook page or blog.


  1. Win A Copy Of "More Business Of Being Born" Here | Bring Birth Home - November 4, 2011

    [...] 4th: “A Film That Touches Lives,” by Jessica [...]

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