Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birthing Movies

I thought I'd write about a couple of birthing movies which HW and I have watched. They both proved to be very thought-provoking and influential about our choices for our birth plan and what we want to happen when the big day comes.

Right at the start of our pregnancy we watched The Business Of Being Born. The film was produced by Ricki Lake, who realized after her first (hospital) birth that she wanted to have her second baby by home-birth, and decided to make a movie about the process; debunking some of the myths surrounding the process. (Also, the movie actually shows Lake giving birth to her second baby, in her bath, at home!) Particularly in America, there seems to be a lot of pressure towards having a hospital birth, and I was very surprised by this, as the general consensus in Europe is a lot more laid back; seeing birth as a very natural, pure process, which should only require medical interventions in extreme cases. Ricki Lake's movie explores some of the reasons behind the trend towards hospital births in America (and the alarming number of C-sections) and, surprise surprise, she discovers that a lot of it comes down to time and money. The birthing process in American hospitals often feels a lot like a baby production line: ship 'em in, squeeze 'em out, and move on to the next. The majority of births are induced by pitocin, but the reality of this is that it makes the contractions more painful, and also reduces the mother's oxytocin levels (which are a natural chemical to bond the mother and baby!). This is because it's essentially the most cost-effective (and profitable) way for health providers to deal with births. It all seems to be very impersonal and unnatural. Home births, on the other hand, are very pure and simple, and encourage the woman to fully appreciate the wonder of giving birth, and to see it as a sensual, intimate process, where she gets to welcome her baby to the world.

After watching the movie HW and I agreed that we'd stick with our doctor (as he is great, and very understanding and respectful of all our choices) and have the baby delivered in a hospital (just in case anything should go wrong), but that we'd stick to a very simple birth plan: keep everything natural, and deliver the baby without any medical intervention unless absolutely necessary.

Then, last night HW and I watched the Orgasmic Birth movie. It essentially delivers the same message as Ricki Lake's movie, but focuses even more on the sensual qualities of the birth process; suggesting that it can actually be a very sexual and orgasmic experience for the mother. Basically, it just confirmed a lot of the decisions we'd already made, about how we want our big day to go.

Obviously every parent  is going to make their own decision about what is best for them, and how they want to deliver their baby, but I would definitely recommend these two movies to every parent-to-be, before you make that choice. They're very informative, and really give you a good idea of what your birthing options are, and some of the cultural differences all around the world (for instance, Orgasmic Birth shows a Maori mother giving birth; welcome her baby to the world with special tribal chants).

One final comment, though, is that it struck me as I was watching these movies that I would feel very left out if I was watching these as a single parent. All of the birthing movies (not to mention most of the literatue) seem to be aimed at straight couples. Considering there are more and more single mothers (and fathers) than ever before (not to mention same-sex couples) having babies now, this seems a little outdated and insensitive to me. It'd be nice to see some more variety represented out there. Just a thought.

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