The Business of Being Born Recap


If you have never heard of this documentary about childbirth in the U.S. maybe you’ve been hiding under a rock?

Okay, maybe not.

But this documentary, since its release in 2008 has become increasingly well known and become the topic of convos among many a preggo woman.

The film, produced by Ricki Lake (if you’re thinking “talk show” …you’re right) starts out with the question “Would you ever have considered using a midwife?” The responses are varied and not super, crazy surprising, especially given the fact that this film was made 4 years ago and it seems since then, the usage of midwives as healthcare providers has become a lot more mainstream.

Ricki explains the reason she made this film was to examine if we are benefitting babies and mommies or not.  Definitely an interesting question to tackle and one that each woman really needs to answer for herself. 

The rest of the film is made up of interviews of some GIANTs in the birth world- people like Michel Odent, Robbie Davis-Floyd and Ina May Gaskin (just to name a few), as well as follows several couples as they journey through childbirth at home and the hospital.

They also show some surprising stats. For example, did you know…midwives attend 70-80% of births everywhere in the world except in the US (the rate is 8%), yet we have one of the highest maternal mortality rates among industrialized nations?

We thought that was whack.

The film delves briefly into the history of birth and the smear campaign against midwives way back in the day by medical doctors who were threatened by the midwives “taking over.” Hmm. Maybe that explains the stat above?

TBOBB- The Business of Being Born (we made that up) also explores the drugs used in birth that contribute to the domino, snowball rolling down the hill effect, leading to our 30% c-section rate,  as well as how our culture actually portrays birth in a way that makes us women feel scared and fearful instead of excited and empowered.

One thing we really appreciated about this Birthumentary is that it shows that not all births go as planned. You’ll see what we mean… it involves the director of the film who never thought her birth would end up IN the movie, an exciting cab ride with a woman in labor, and her water breaking In. The. Cab. (Hope the cabbie got a major tip for that action) and .

Some quotables from the film:

On why midwives should be the choice for normal childbirth- “Midwives do a better job at normal deliveries than we do….A doctor isn’t really excited about things when they’re normal.” -Dr. Jacques Moritz OB/Gyn

On the use of Pitocin in labor- “Your baby is getting a compressed blood and oxygen supply because Pitocin contractions last so long and are so strong the blood and oxygen flow to the baby is compromised.” Robbie Davis-Floyd Ph.D.

On her birth at home- “At a certain point I just gave into the pain, I just let go and surrendered and that’s when things went really quickly.” –Ricki Lake

Wrap Up

Please note: If you aren’t a fan of watching babies being born then do what I did the first time I watched this movie (and was pregnant with my first) and have your fast fingers ready on your remote (isn’t that what fast forward is for?). There’s great info in this movie that is thought provoking and may cause you to want to check out your options further. We think that’s pretty cool.