Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Business of Being Born

I watched the Ricki Lake documentary, The Business of Being Born the other day. I'm not pregnant myself, but I'm at the age where many of my girlfriends' uteruses are currently occupied with child. Pregnancy, babies and how they are brought into our world seems ever present. My friends' experiences run the gamut - from completely drug-free labors to c-section births.

All this discussion about pregnancy has me doing some gestating all my own - just not the bun-in-the-oven kind.

While watching the documentary I was completely enraptured by women giving birth in their home, but I was also struck by how political the movie felt. In general, you could feel the frustration the midwives had about the hurdles they face in trying to provide pregnant women with natural birthing experiences. You could also feel the horror that the doctors had about women giving birth in their homes. At the end of the movie, both sides seemed at opposite ends, leaving pregnant women right smack in the middle. This made me irritated.

Last night I was discussing the documentary with a friend of mine who is in her last trimester with her second child. We talked about our frustration with the lack of separation between the information and the judgement. Women who don't find themselves virulently on either side of the birthing debate seem to be the victims of the politicization that's occurring. On one side you have doctors telling you that if you give birth outside of a hospital you could, you know, die. On the other side you have home birth advocates telling you that you may not bond with your child if too much hospital intervention is placed upon you during delivery. Meanwhile, I think of my friend who gave birth naturally and my sister who had a c-section and the fact that both bonded beautifully with their babies. Both women are divine examples of motherhood and the love a mother can have for her child.

As someone who would like to have children one day, I'm left with the plea: can someone talk to me without all the scare tactics on either side?

Women's bodies becoming the crux of a political debate is not new, but with the Women's Movement at our heels, can't we all agree that women are smart enough to digest rational birth information from both sides? That with that information we can then walk away with our own, individual, informed choice?

What I appreciated most about the documentary is that the discussion was brought to the fore. Valid and important questions were certainly raised, but can we keep talking - without the heat or the judgement.

No comments: