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 Jeremy Dyen
After I talked with Kaitlin about doing this guest post, Madhavi and I sat down and recalled our birth journey and how we transitioned from a hospital to home birth. We were a little foggy piecing together the chronology of how things unfolded, but one thing became quite clear: Although there were several things that influenced our decision to switch to a home birth, we both agree that watching The Business of Being Born was a real tipping point.
Before We Knew About Home Birth…
Early in her pregnancy Madhavi was pretty set on birthing in a hospital.
She welcomed the idea of getting an epidural. She was okay with doing whatever might be necessary to alleviate the inevitable labor pain and to ensure safety for both her and our baby. At that point in her life all of her close friends and family went through the routine of hospital birth: epidurals, pitocin and other seemingly avoidable interventions.
Her work as a physician also influenced Madhavi’s birth choices at the time. A hospital birth was simply the paradigm she was comfortable with. In fact, when she later found out about home birth she admitted that she had not realized it was even an option!
Aha! There Is Another Option…
After starting with Hypnobabies, a home study childbirth class that included hypnobirthing and was geared toward a natural birth, we started to think more about the kind of birth we could have. We started to understand the benefits of a natural birth for both Madhavi and our baby. Madhavi was feeling like natural birth was not only doable, but necessary, and she was feeling more and more confident about it.
As Madhavi shifted her thinking toward a natural birth, the challenges of birthing naturally in a hospital started to surface.
Madhavi was very familiar with protocols inherent in hospitals that pose challenges to having a gentle birth.
Doctors and nurses really have to stick to such protocols lest they face the pitfalls of the overly litigious culture we live in. And Pennsylvania, where we live, is one of the most litigiousd when it comes to medical malpractice. The bottom line is many obstetricians will push for what is right by the policy standards, even if it means overriding the expectant parents’ wishes.
Madhavi also knew first hand that hospital are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. A hospital, after all, is where sick people go. Why would we want to subject our newborn baby, with a yet-fully-developed immune system, to a higher risk of infectious disease?!
We also had close friends who were planning a homebirth.
This had a direct influence on choices we were making about our birth. Talking to our friends gave us a personal view of of homebirth, which was quite a new view for us. That opened up the possibility of homebirth for us.
Still, at that point we were only on a path to considering homebirth. We didn’t really know what was to come.
When Did We First Hear Of The Business Of Being Born?
Madhavi had been seeing a great chiropractor during her second trimester.
In the waiting room she read a magazine about home birth. She also read about The Business Of Being Born in another small health magazine there. That was the first she knew of the movie.
Shortly after that discovery we met with our doula, Amy. We met with her at Crozer-Chester Hosptial, where Madhavi was working at the time.
When I arrived Madhavi filled me in on the first few minutes I missed, and she told me they had been discussing the idea of home birth.
Amy spoke from experience when she told Madhavi that having a natural birth in the hospital was not without its challenges. Madhavi said that homebirth was something she had been thinking about, and that we should look into it. I always told Madhavi that I would support whatever decisions she made, but thought homebirth was a great idea and I was happy to here about her thoughts. Amy gave us the names of a few midwives in our area.
It was only a day or two later that we rented The Business Of Being Born from a local video rental place.
After seeing that movie, we were both so convinced home birth was the only way to go for us.
Madhavi called our midwife the next day.
Although it has been nearly two years since we saw the movie, we remember the points that swayed us to homebirthing:
- Intervention breads intervention. There is most often a cascade of events that happens once that initial intervention is accepted. Induction via pitocin often necessitates an epidural. An epidural opens up a range of potential issues including forced pushing, tears, episiotomy, the use of forceps or vacuum and avoidable Cesarean Section.
- Hospital births are powered very much by money. The movie is called The Business of Being Born for a reason. Having worked for years in hospitals Madhavi was very aware of money as a driving force behind the business.
- Mortality rate. The movie pointed out very clearly that the U.S. infant mortality rates were much higher than a number of countries in which homebirth is practiced more.
- The C-Section rate in the U.S. is way too high. While the World Health Organization (WHO) urges a 15%-or-below C-section rate, the U.S. rate is above 30%! The movie drove this point home.
Madhavi recently told me the thing that sticks in her mind the most is when Marsden Wagner, M.D., of the WHO talks in the movie about staying out of the hospital if you really want to have a natural birth. I remembered that guy from the movie very well, and I went back to the clip Madhavi was talking about to find the exact quote. He says,
“…If you really want to humanize birth, the best thing to do is get the hell out of the hospital.”
All Expectant Parents Should Watch This Movie
I feel like The Business Of Being Born should be required viewing for all expectant parents.
From there they can make whatever decision they wish.
I imagine that some people will still cling to the mainstream belief that hospital births are safer. Some will still believe that modern medicine and technology is the solution to modern childbirth. Some will simply just cling to fears and shirk their own rights and responsibilities as parents to make a healthy decision for mother and baby. But at least, having watched this movie, their decisions will be informed to a greater degree.
We do realize that home birth is not in everyone’s comfort zone, but I try to tell as many expectant parents as I can to watch this movie. I think it is a tremendous resource because it is very accessible and digest-able. It is a great primer from which you can start making informed decisions about a hospital vs. homebirth. It was for us.
I think The Business Of Being Born is especially helpful for birth partners who act as roadblocks when their partner actually wants a homebirth.
This movie might be the very thing to dispel the myth that birthing in the hospital is safer for mother and baby. I can see how the movie might sway a birth partner who is an adamant advocate for a hospital birth to swiftly rally for a homebirth. Men like to work with proof, facts and numbers. The Business Of Being Born supplies those very things.
So many people have since told Madhavi how brave she is for birthing at home.
Her usual response is, “No, I’m not that brave.” Quiety, she thinks to herself that they must be brave for dealing with the roller coaster ride of birthing in a hospital.
Madhavi had to be especially insistent with a close friend who is also a Physician and had two hospital births.
Her friend kept telling Madhavi how brave she was. When Madhavi finally told her friend that she was that brave one for having weathered two hospital births with epidurals, pitocin, etc., her friend was taken aback. Madhavi had to explain some of the facts regarding high C-section and infant mortality rates in the U.S. as a result of over-medicalized births in order to convince her friend of the perils of hospital births.
This scenario just highlights how hidden the facts are in our culture. So many are blind to the statistics and are all too willing to accept the mainstream perception of how birth should be.
The Business Of Being Born is a great way to start lifting the blinders to see how mainstream birthing could be.
Jeremy Dyen is a musician, father and husband who blogs at Stay at Home Papa. He and his wife Madhavi are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth. They recently launched the Birth Relaxation Kit, (Click here to visit Birth Relaxation Kit.) and also offer a free hypnobirthing mp3.