Business of Being Born Movie Review

I was so excited to go to Belly Sprout, in Fullerton to see the Business of Being Born.  I had heard good reviews of it and I love birth, so it seemed obvious I would love this film.  Belly Sprout is a great little space, with natural items for babies and moms, with room in the back for classes or film screenings.  It was fun meeting new people as we waited for the film to start.   

    The film overall was enjoyable.  The intention of the film seems to be showing how homebirth can be safer and better than hospital births.  There were interesting interviews and quotes throughout the movie.  Some wonderful home births were shown.  They were empowering to me as a natural childbirth enthusiast.  These same births could be seen as scary by moms who are afraid of the pain of birth.  As a Hypnobabies instructor, I know birth can actually be comfortable and enjoyable if you have the right hypnosis tools, so I wish a Hypnobabies birth had been included.  I worry that some moms might see the births in this film and say that is why I am going straight for the epidural.   

     They did discuss some of the different problems that come up with hospital births.  Including the cascade of interventions, though I wish they had been a little more explicit in that, because while as a childbirth educator I am well aware of what that entails, many women are not.  It was fascinating to see OBs interviewed and when asked the question, “How often do you see a natural birth?”  They were sitting there dumbfounded.  The answer was basically never.  My friend’s husband is doing his residency in Obstetrics and he agrees with this statement, they never see a normal, natural birth.  They are taught not to be lifeguards, jumping in if something goes wrong, rather they are taught only how to actively manage birth, which leads to problems of their own.  So how are they going to learn to support moms who want this?   

     The ending of the film ruined the whole film for me.  I think it was important to show that at times it is medically better to have a hospital birth (in this case the baby was preterm and breech).  This birth would have been better towards the front of the film, I am thinking after the OB says “95% of my job is boring, but then 5% is exciting/scary”  Ok, show the scary birth at that point of the film, then spend the rest of the film showing the wonderful 95% that are safe at home.   I think they were trying to have this moms story be one that wound its way throughout the film, but I really think its position in the movie undermines the whole purpose of the film.     

     Since this mom did end up with a cesarean, PLEASE use this as a chance to talk about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and how next time this mom can have a vaginal birth and it would be ok.  Tell the world about ICAN and how it is a wonderful organization to help moms avoid cesareans or recover from them if they have one.  Let this film really educated and help the world in more ways than just homebirth.  It would add maybe 1 minute to the film, but would have the potential of helping thousands of women.   

     Overall I guess I would give the film 3 out of 5 stars.  If they could edit it and change where the cesarean birth is in the film I would make it 4 out of 5.  I would not recommend my Hypnobabies Moms watch it while pregnant, as I want only positive images in their mind as they prepare for their births.  But I do think it would be a great film to show in a college class to help women think about births before they are in that stage of life.  If we educate women earlier about their choices in birth and their power as women and mothers, we can change the world! 

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4 thoughts on “Business of Being Born Movie Review”

  1. “It was fascinating to see OBs interviewed and when asked the question, “How often do you see a natural birth?” They were sitting there dumbfounded. The answer was basically never.”

    I talked with a CPM about this very point today. I’m looking forward to seeing/showing this movie in Missoula.

    I had also heard about the ending and how it may undermine the overall message of the movie. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’m glad we’re planning a panel discussion following the film. Perhaps one of our panelists will address this.

    ~ Labortrials ~

  2. I am 4 months pregnant. I had always been of the mindset that if there are drugs that can ease pain, they should be taken immediately. Over the last few weeks I had started thinking that I would like to look into natural childbirth. I got The Business of Being Born through Netflix and my husband and I watched it together.

    I disagree 100% that the ending/editing ruined the show. We’ve seen enough surgical or hospital births with supine screaming women on Discovery Channel. The intended audience is people who don’t think birth is a natural process that a woman can experience without intervention. Focusing from the beginning on these calm, beautiful homebirths was amazing and convinced us. My husband had to rewind the movie & watch again, because he didn’t believe that this calm woman just reached down in the water & pulled her own baby to her chest.

    Towards the end, I still had nagging worries about what if something bad happens, and that’s when they showed how a competent midwife helped the laboring mother to the hospital. The timline/order of the stories is what convinced me to go for natural birth, and to start researching on the internet, which brought me across your site & hypnobabies. If they had shown the hospital birth at the beginning, I would probably have tuned it out as being just another “this is what they do to you” birth movie.

  3. I watched some of it and it stressed me out. I want DH to watch it because I’m hoping to convince him to agree to a homebirth, or at least to be more aware of what goes on in a hospital so he can protect me from it. I’m undecided about whether I should watch the rest of it while pregnant. DH won’t watch it alone but if I put it on he’ll watch it with me.

  4. I too felt like the ending could have been a whole lot better. In fact, during the first two thirds of the movie, I kept thinking “This is so good! I have to tell everyone I know about it!” But during the last third I thought, “Maybe not.” It just felt like a very disappointing ending, like they kind of gave up on everything they had been saying beforehand. Obviously, the woman with the c-section needed it, but why didn’t they explore possible reasons for the US’s high prematurity rate? It’s too bad they didn’t mention nutrition’s role in pregnancy and why our typical American diet is causing a lot of premature and low birth weight babies. Ina May Gaskin’s books talk about nutrition’s role in pregnancy. Since they mentioned Ina May in the movie it would have been nice to explore this aspect.

    Anyway, if they could have just reinforced their earlier statements after showing the c-section, it wouldn’t have felt like the film gave up at the end.

    I also wish they had shown a hypnobabies birth as the women in many of the homebirths clearly could have benefited from the techniques!

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