This week I was lucky enough to be able to go to the premiere of the new Business of Being Born documentary, More Business of Being Born, at the Laemmle’s Royal Theater in Los Angeles. As a Midwife, I believe that the first ‘Business of Being Born’ documentary has done a lot to open the eyes of the masses, and educate people about modern childbirth and the maternity system, not just in the States, but around the world. It discusses the huge and somewhat controversial (to some people) topic of homebirth, natural birth, cesarean birth, obstetric care, aswell as Midwives and Doulas-which to the average American, are professions most people had never heard of. I think it has played a huge part in educating people in a topic that they wouldn’t have ordinarily thought about. Most women of childbearing age today, only consider birth once they become pregnant. It is no longer something which is talked about amongst family and friends, or witnessed before becoming pregnant. Since birth left the home around 50 years ago, birth has become shamed, hushed and secret. Something that takes place in a hospital bed, behind closed doors, in private, so that no-one can hear you. As a society we are overwhelmed with images and stories in the media of dramatic, medicalized, traumatic births with emergencies around every corner, where women are passive participants in their care, following the doctor’s every order. These are the only images of birth we ever see. The ones which make the news, or bring in the ratings. This is our only perspective. These births are fictional! We need some reality, and not ‘Reality TV’, but REAL birth stories from REAL families.
I have certainly noticed in the 3 years since the first documentary came out, the awareness of these issues has greatly increased. Many of our clients come to us having watched it, saying that this was the catalyst which launched them in to looking at different alternatives to mainstream obstetric care, or that it made them realize they did have options, or it was recommended to them from a friend or colleague. The birth world in America, and in California especially is changing, and Ricki Lake and her team, have helped to put those wheels in motion.
The new Business of Being Born documentary is a series of 4 mini documentaries, covering various topics which felt needed further explanation. Although the first documentary was extremely informative, it still left people with questions such as, ‘What’s the difference between a Midwife and a Doula?’. Producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein hope that this follow-up series will help to fill in a few more gaps. They cover conversations with Ina May Gaskin (America’s leading Midwife), celebrity mothers talking about their birth experiences, Doulas, birth centres, Cesarean and VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean).
At the premiere we watched only the second in the series, ‘Special Deliveries’, which includes an hour’s worth of testimonials from Christy Turlington Burns, Cindy Crawford, Alyson Hannigan, Melissa Joan Hart, Gisele Bundchen, and Alanis Morissette, all of whom describe a wide range of birth experiences, including some tellingly unhappy ones. Their voices fuse into a compelling chorus of maternal will and desire. None of them paint a picture of labor and birth as an easy ride, but they are honest and open about their emotions and their journey.
Even as a Midwife, I found it hugely inspiring to watch. It ignited my passion behind creating an alternative for women and their families. There is a greater issue behind all of this. It is not just all about homebirth, or natural birth, or the hospital. It’s about choice. Something we all have the right to.
‘So if you’re thinking of having a baby, do what more and more people are doing. See The Business of Being Born (and More Business of Being Born). And decide what to do for yourself’.
I’m really excited as a Midwife and a Doula, and someone who loves all things birth, about the launch of this new project. I’m equally excited that the 2 front runners of this project are Brits!! 2 wonderfully passionate film makers Toni Harman and her partner Alex Wakeford, inspired by their own childbirth journey, decided to launch a new global film project about birth-a video website aimed at birth professionals (and anyone else interested in birth) to empower women to believe that they CAN give birth fully informed of their choices.
What’s great about these videos is that they offer credible evidence-based information and opinions from leading birth experts around the world. Toni and Alex have not just filmed anyone, they have filmed many of the BIGGEST, most influential names in the business, including…Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent, Elizabeth Davis, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Cathy Warwick (RCM), Mary Newburn (NCT), Marilyn Curl (Lamaze International), Dr Sarah Buckley, Professor Soo Downe, Professor Lesley Page, Professor Cecily Begley, Professor Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, Professor Ngai Fen Cheung, Associate Professor Denis Walsh and lots more leading midwives, academics, obstetricians, authors, doulas, birth educators and birth warriors around the world.
The One World Birth website launched today, is a fantastic video resource aimed at birth professionals, campaigners and parents who want to place their finger right on the pulse of what is happening in birth today. It’s an on-going, online TV channel about birth. The idea is that people like you and me use the site as a ‘grab bag’, taking clips that interest us and spreading the word via as many different social media mediums as possible. They want us to post their clips on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, blogs…wherever, to get as much exposure to this information as possible. They want us to power the revolution in birth! Stand up and shout, wave our hands and make our voices heard! The only way the wheels of this revolution will really get moving, is by uniting all of the voices around the world. We need to build a strong, powerful community of passionate followers in order to create a global movement to make change.
They’ve done their bit, let’s do ours!
Save Birth, Change the World.
Join them today at www.oneworldbirth.net
Join the live webinar at One World Birth…
Click the link to join in now!!
Ever wondered what Midwives do? Here’s a quick snippet!
- Neonatal Mortality Rate Reduces by the Hands of Midwives (smiffybaby.com)
Since moving to Los Angeles late last year, I’ve spent my days working with a wonderful bunch of midwives and mamas at Art of , in Marina Del Rey. Nine months have gone by since then and I feel honored to be part of such a vibrant and active birth community. Even though the use of midwives and doulas in the United States is still a little unheard of in comparison to other parts of the world, and the whole concept of a natural birth still seems like a daunting, unidentified terrain we should be wary of, somehow LA has created it’s own little niche, jam-packed with not just midwives & doulas, but nurses, doctors, parents, educators, massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, spiritual workers, experts on exercise, nutrition, and parenting, and birth activists, who come together from different walks of life, to promote and create awareness around healthy birth choices. A plethora of avid like-minded individuals, passionate and dedicated to pregnancy, birth, holistic care, and changing social norms, who are willing to go out of their way to spread the word on this wonderful alternative to the standard maternity care. Until now I have never worked as a midwife within such a devoted birth community. Even as a newcomer, I feel welcomed with open arms, and it feels wonderful. I feel inspired everyday to set this birth ball in motion. I feel that LA is on the verge of the birth revolution.
Photograph by Heather Hart/A La Mode Photo
Last week, I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful all day intensive workshop at the BINI Birth Hollywood loft (an amazing resource for pregnant women as well as birth professionals), hosted by Ana Paula Markel, with the fantastic Naoli Vinaver, an inspirational traditional Mexican Midwife. I felt like I learnt so much from this woman. She covered many topics with us including… birthing as a feminine source of inspiration, inner strength and wisdom, robozo techniques, ‘natural ultrasound’, fetal positioning and belly mapping, expectations, and sexuality in pregnancy and birth. The whole day was amazing. I was surrounded by fantastic women, and came away armed with many more tools to add to my birth repertoire.
- Join the Revolution (smiffybaby.com)
‘Midwives may be rare in this country, but they hold the key to improving maternal health’
Ina May Gaskin
Be sure to check out Ina May Gaskin’s latest book, released this month, Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta
- Doctors Need Midwives: Ina May Gaskin on the U.S. Maternity-Care Crisis (thedailybeast.com)
- Speaking Out for Mothers and Children (wisdomfrommidwives.com)
- CDC: Women Are Increasingly Choosing Home Birth. Why? (crooksandliars.com)
- The state of maternal health. Can MDG5 be achieved by 2015? (guardian.co.uk)
Even as a Midwife this opened my eyes. A very empowering read…
- Childbirth: #1 Reason for Hospital Admission for U.S Women (smiffybaby.com)
- Pushed (smiffybaby.com)
- Midwife shortage ‘dangerously high’ (guardian.co.uk)
A recent article on the LA Times reported that childbirth is the number 1 reason for hospital admission for US women! How is this possible? This statistic is both shocking and disgraceful! There are so many things wrong with the US maternity system, yet the majority of women know nothing about it. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more statistics like this hitting the headlines in the States, so why aren’t more women asking questions and demanding answers?
‘85% of all births in the U.S are considered traumatic for both mother and child’, Christiane Northrup, MD, author of ‘Mother-Daughter Wisdom’
It is not only our lives, but also our children’s lives, we are putting on the line.
Is it worth the risk?
- Childbirth: #1 Reason for Hospital Admission for U.S Women (smiffybaby.com)
- More U.S. Women Giving Birth at Home (abcnews.go.com)
- The Connection Between Childbirth and PTSD (brighthub.com)