One cool thing about living in a college town like Corvallis is the academic opportunities that pop up. I admit I haven't really taken advantage of them up until now, but on Wednesday I got the chance to. There is a cultural anthropologist at OSU who wanted to study more about the birth process and so she became a midwife. On Wednesday she held a screening of The Business of Being Born proceeded by a panel discussion. It was pretty interesting. The movie makes you think about the whole way we do birth in the US. I have thought about it before, since I worked as a labor and delivery nurse for two years and have given birth twice, but I wasn't aware of some of the statistics they quote in the movie. I thought overall that it was a good movie, although somewhat biased towards home birth. It did help cement my opinions toward birth and the birth process which have been slowly forming over the past ten years. If you're interested, here it goes.
I think women sell themselves short and don't give themselves enough credit. I have heard so many people jump to the epidural option without even considering that they might be tough enough to handle it. I think each birth is a unique case and should be treated as such, and labor has so many facets and circumstances that affect it. I don't think getting an epidural is a bad thing, and I am more comfortable with the idea of a hospital birth, but I think home birth has something to be said for it too. It's a complicated subject. Even though women talk about it all the time, most of the time it's just a sharing of horror stories instead of encouraging each other to gain knowledge and stand up for what we want. When I was a labor and delivery nurse I was often frustrated by all the paperwork and tasks I had to do. I felt it took time away from my patients. At the same time, most women want their labor to be as quick and pain free as possible and hospitals try to facilitate this, not necessarily to the patient's benefit. Also a lot of women have an idealized image of what their birth experience should be and are very upset when/if they don't get it. This makes it a very highly litigated area in the medical field which I think effects the nurse's care. If you are constantly afraid of being sued, you focus a lot on paperwork and procedures instead of the person. I don't have any easy answers, but the strongest feeling I came away from the movie with was, we need more education. Education for doctors, nurses, women, spouses, everyone involved in the process. At least it's a place to start. I recommend this movie to anyone who will be involved in the birth process in some way during their lives, at least as a starting point. It does have a few graphic c-section scenes, and their are lots of boobs, so be forewarned. :)