The natural childbirth movement has been extremely focal in recent years, and there are several documentaries documenting both the perceived ills of maternity care in the United States and the benefits of midwifery care, and giving birth at home. Actress and TV show host Ricki Lake became passionate about childbirth after she had both a hospital birth and a home birth. She said that she "briefly thought about becoming a midwife" after delivering at home, but then decided that it would be better to make a documentary about birth. That is how The Business of Being Born came about.
The Business of Being Born is a film that is much talked about. This documentary is, essentially, an anti-hospital birth film. It portrays medicalized birth as a conveyor belt on which only the convenience and interests of OB/GYNs matter, and in which the health of women and babies is secondary. You can see a brief history of hospital births in the US, along with statistics of how many women gave birth at home through the years the majority at the beginning of the last century, but now the figure has remained at one percent for decades. Footage of so-called "twilight sleep" births, which were popular in the 1950s and '60s, is impressive. And then there are the medical residents who, in a know-it-all fashion, say that hardly anyone gives birth naturally any more, everybody needs augmentation or induction of labor, and of course an epidural. There are no mention of side effects, or the possibility that those interventions were not really needed.
Ricki Lake is right that there are all kinds of things wrong with L&D wards! The patient should come first, right? Along with her criticisms of the maternity care system, Ricki Lake also shows alternatives giving birth at home with a midwife, or at a birth center. Then there are interviews with focal pro-homebirth advocates that tell you just how giving birth turned into a business. It is an interesting documentary, that is well-worth watching. But really, Ricki? Midwives should attend the births of low-risk women because 80 percent of pregnancies is cared for by midwives in Europe? Here, we don't think that is true. And we also know that midwives often have far more extensive training in European countries.