Monday, October 1, 2012

{More} Business of Being Born

I am on a viewing high.
Just finished watching "More Business of Being Born" (Yay Netflix for picking it up so fast!!)
And wow.
I feel like my heart is opened up fresh.

I tend to do a lot of back tracking and egg shell walking when talking birth, my births, because it's so delicate. Its such a big deal. It's so controversial. It can be everything. And I hate to think of adding into anyone's hard time, if they had a hard time. Because I know I had a hard time hearing any birth stories after my first experience. And both my giving-birth experiences are so different that they each can alienate different people. So its hard to share anything at all sometimes.

But today I give myself permission to just share my thoughts from these movies.
I would like to start by saying, I love you. And my heart is to never hurt you.
If you are nervous this post could hurt your feelings, read it only when, or if, you're ready. And please know that I would never ever tell you that you were wrong in the way you gave birth. Anyone who've ever given birth, in any way, (natural, medicated, cesarean, adoption, fostering) has my utmost respect.

I did not watch "The Business of Being Born" before having my first child. I had no real feelings for it, it was off my radar.
I refused to watch it after having my c-section because I knew it would crush my heart.
When I was considering having a home birth for my second, I asked Blake to watch it with me.
It gave me a lot of peace about what I was doing. It resinated with my soul.

I could have watched "More Business of Being Born" while pregnant the second time, waiting for my home birth. But I didn't. My mind was a disaster of emotions and I didn't want to add in a single-solitary-anything that could have scared me.
(To be honest, I'm very happy I didn't watch it until now. Somethings in it would have scared the pants off of me -- the girl tremoring over a hope of VBAC.)

But after having watched it, from the place I am in now, I want every first time pregnant mom to watch them all (my daughters, in the future, for sure!) What a wealth of information so necessary in our culture today.

Something I ponder a lot right now is this:
When I was pregnant the first time I heard happy things like: "Being pregnant is not a sickness." "Your body was made to do this."
The problem with these statements are they gave me a false sense of security.
They are all true.
But what is left out of these statements is profound.
Having a baby is hard work.
     Most women my age (thinking about having a baby) know that in our society midwives and mother centered birthing is making a comeback after nearly a century of sort of removing that form the scene. We love this, its awesome. Everyone is happy. But no one is thinking about how our everyday life has evolved since the old midwife days and the new midwife days.
     Back when midwifes were THE way to have babies, women did a lot more physically in their day to day life. Manual labor, like for real! ( Even if they were wealthy, I can guarantee they still had to do a bit more walking, or something physically taxing, than the average american today.) Now a days we work in offices, and have cars, and dishwashers, sit on couches when we get home, the list goes on. Just our whole life is different. So to just assume that we as a society add back in midwives, it will immediately go back to "our body will just do this" is a bit naive. We need to be physically prepared to labor.
Anyway, that's totally off subject, and not even a whole thought.

My point is, don't let happy sentences thrown around, keep you from really applying yourself to your birthing experience. There is a lot out there that is not commonly discussed by many providers out there (doctors and midwives alike) that should be common knowledge. And you need to know it, if you want to have your best birth. The birthing culture is a mess right now, and birth presented in a pretty package a lot of places, but it still has many pitfalls.

One of the fastest, and least effortful ways to educate yourself is to watch these films.
"The Business of Being Born" did leave a lot to be desired, which is why it is so great they went on to make more. The subject matter is so HUGE that it cannot all be held in even all five of these now existent DVDs.

I felt the original "The Business of Being Born" came across a little harder on Doctors than is necessary, but at the same time, some doctors really are exactly what is portrayed in the film. I just wish they could have nodded their head to the doctors out there who are every bit as awesome as Ina May-type Midwives. (Because there are some!)
But what I liked about "The Business of Being Born" is how it really showed just how "civilized" a Homebirth Midwife is. And that there is a lot of flaws in our birthing system.
And this movie really is the start of opening your eyes to that. You have to start somewhere.

"More Business of Being Born" is just so dear to my heart now that I've been through what I've been through.

I'm just going to highlight some of the things that stood out to me when watching them.
(And I really hope you watch them too. They are just so great! If you have Netflix, they are right there waiting for you, ready to stream!)

  • The first DVD "Down on the Farm" is a talk with Ina May Gaskin. 
The awesome part of this DVD is hearing how confident the midwifes are about birth and it's safety. They reminded me so much of my awesome midwife, and they said the same things I was told this time around. Problems in birth are very rare WHEN it's a natural birth (no interventions.) And the few problems that do arise are foreseeable to the point that, transfers are almost never done emergently, but with plenty of time to allow for a good birth under the care of a hospital.
I love the feeling of peace that comes from these kind of midwives. It's not a fake peace with faith in "happy thoughts"... its a real peace that comes from good solid knowledge and experience.

mmm. Good things!!

  • The next DVD is celebrity mothers talking about their birthing experience.

Now you know me, I am hesitant about birth stories (even now). I was ready for everyone on this DVD to say all these overly crazy "Women Power", "I had the perfect birth, because of how awesome I am", kinda things.
That was not what was on this DVD.
It was a beautiful mixed bag of heartfelt experiences.
Nothing anyone said came across (to me) as judgmental, or as if they were they only one who did it right. There were home birth stories, hospital (natural, epidural, induced) stories, c-section stories. They were all there. And each one very special. I was laughing with them. I was crying with them. And my heart was filled through it.

I think this would be a great view for first time pregnant moms. It covers the gambit of birth stories, but none of it comes across as scary. Its just real. None of it feels like something I would have run and hid from while waiting to see what labor really is. I found them all encouraging. I found them all endearing.

The one thing I will note is this:
The women who had vaginal births (particularly those who did so drug free) often shared feelings of just total empowerment and accomplishment (things along those lines.) And the c-section story, while sweet and full of gratitude, did not. And it just struck me, because that's what I knew I was missing. My heart ached that same ache I saw in her eyes.  And its a weird feeling in the place I am today, I know I used every same women-streangth and God-given-women-power to birth my c-section baby as I did my VBAC baby, but something about it being a c-section took away my ability to lay claim to it. And for me, that was the main ache I felt. I felt unfulfilled in that way. And I could see that in this women on the DVD's eyes.

But regardless I loved each and every story.
Maybe my job someday will be birth story interviewer or something. :)
They are just gorgeous things of amazement!
And I hope you will watch them, and I hope you will find yourself free enough to appreciate each one for what it is, and not challenge them to be more like your own. We get our own journeys.

  • After that comes a DVD on Doulas, Birth Centers and C-sections.

Sounds like a strange combo, but it flows.

The section on doulas is really helpful clarification.
I've had friends ask me more about doulas since my birthing journey. (They are just trying to understand what the point is, and if you need one.) Seeing this film puts it into great perspective. And it doesn't make you feel like they are saying "everyone SHOULD have a doula." They don't imply that at all. They just show what they do. And what they do is cool.
One thing that really stood out to me in the film was this sentence:
"A doula is like what your mom would have been to you in labor, if she had lived in a time when she was used to being at all the births of all the women in her community and was used to birth."
That struck me because going into my first birth, I had assumed my mom could be my doula, she had done two natural births no problem, surely she could be my doula.
But I didn't take into account the fact that she had never seen anyone's birth, only experienced her own. She really didn't know how births are supposed to go outside of that. And with my induction she was really taken aback by how different my experience was from hers, and she was left to be more of a lost bystander than a doula.
A doula's experience and familiarity with birth is really what you are hiring. They are who can tell you what to do when, and they can bring you back to centered and tell you that everything is going fine, or now is a good time to think of your options.

Birth Centers are talked about.
They clarify the difference in hospital birth centers and free standing ones -- very good to know. (The main gist is, if its in a hospital you will need to labor the way the hospital wants labor (ie. how long your water can be broke, how long you can be in labor...) to go so don't let the words birth center give you a false sense of freedom.

And then c-sections are talked about in depth.
I didn't feel judged for having one while watching it. It left room for needed c-sections, while pointing out room to improve the country's c-section rate. For me it felt very honest, but not in a hurtful way. I was all in, while watching that. Its all good to know.

  • THEN I watched the VBAC DVD.

Hmm. Now that one was "interesting."

I'm just gonna come out and say it:
If you hope to VBAC at some point -- don't watch this. Its too scary.
They interview a lot of doctors who talk about a lot of risks.
(I find this DVD odd because it seems like they only really talk to Doctors, and not Ina May or anyone like her. That type of person could have brought in so much peace on the matter.)

But in the same vein of scariness, If you have never had a c-section and you would like to know how it feels to try for a VBAC, watch this DVD. Watch the one before all about c-sections and their risks (which increase with every repeat), then watch these Doctors tell you about risks of VBACs. And also take note of the subtle ways they imply women who've had c-section could very well be broken and unable to VBAC. Imagine hearing repeatedly you need to have the perfect labor to accomplish a VBAC (take into account that most labors aren't text book.) And then imagine trying to have another baby without being terrified. Then you might slightly understand how a c-section momma might feel.

Watching this DVD was actually good for me right now because for the first time I was able to see objectively why I was terrified.
I didn't know why I was so scared during my pregnancy.
Now watching this DVD from a place of safety, I can see just how insanely overwhelming it all was. And not because I was making up anything.
Nope, I was down playing things.
At one point in the film a women doctor says, "A women who had a 9 pound baby and pushed for two hours, and the baby didn't come through the pelvis, so she has a c-section, is not a good candidate for a VBAC."
Um Hi, my name is Lydia, my first baby was 9 pounds even, born via cesarean after 2 hours of pushing, because she didn't make it past my pelvic bone.

A good portion of the movie shows doctors saying why a home birth isn't advised after a c-section.
Um Hi, my name is Lydia, I'm apparently not a good candidate for a VBAC. AND I CHOSE TO HBAC (Homebirth after a Cesarean!)

Yeah I was bucking the trend. Not to be a trend-bucker. But because that's what I knew was right for me.
No wonder I was scared. I staring in in the face of "well advised" and turning to go the way of my calling.

From personal experience, with a very experienced VBACing Midwife, I find the doctors concerns in the film to be very similar to the concerns they seem to voice in the original "Business of Being Born" about home births in general for anyone -- something they think based on inexperience one subject. (Which once again, I am confused by in this film series, since that is such a large contrast to the films heart.)

For me, in viewing this, I was given the gift of seeing my own bravery for the first time. I really didn't know. I just pressed through despite everything. And felt guilty for being so scared. But seeing this DVD today, showed me that I was braver than I thought.

I also weeped during one part where a women shares her story. She talks about what her husband was for her during her labor. Oh my gosh! Absolutely beautiful, and so exactly what Blake was for me both durning my labor and so many days before hand -- because I labored my way towards labor. And he upheld me more times than I can count. And without him I would have shattered.

I just watched these DVD with so much in my heart.
I was glued to the screen, with my mouth hanging open, for nearly every moment of it.
It means something to me. As I'm sure it means something to many women.
It is such a deep, deep well of meaning.

And I hope you will watch them. ESPECIALLY if you are expecting your first baby.
Its all things you should know.
And please, please seek actively for the birth you want, ask questions and don't be afraid to find the right provider for you!


  1. It's so interesting that I found your blog and this post. I have been watching More Business, and I'm meeting with a midwife on Wednesday to see if I'd be a candidate for a vbac. My first pregnancy/labor/c section was complicated, so I don't know what they'll say, but we will see!

    1. Thanks for commenting Kari. I love getting to hear from other mommas. I hope you can find the answers you need for this pregnancy. I totally understand the process of seeking. If you wanted to stay in touch I'd love it.

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