“The Business of Being Born” In America and globally, we are known to do things differently apart from other countries, and sometimes it is beneficial, but by doing things differently; are we setting ourselves in the lead or few steps back? For hundred of years, women have wrestled with their womanhood, bodies, and what it means to be a woman in our society. Being a woman comes with a wonderful and empowering responsibility–giving birth.
What sets us aside from other countries is that the process and expectations of giving birth has changed in our society; coming from midwifery, as it has always been since the early times, to hospitals where it is now expected to give birth at. Midwifery was a common practice in delivering babies in the early times, until doctors, who began a political campaign smear against midwives, which led to a decline in opting midwives in the birthing process.
Poignantly, giving birth to an OB-GYN was dangerous because many doctors graduating from medical school had not seen a live birth before setting out to practice, which meant infant mortality transcended. Before a cultural shift in birthing babies in the 1900’s, it was common to give birth at home with a midwife, ninety-five percent of women gave birth at home. By 1938, half of births took place at home, and then by 1955, less than 1 percent of births were at home. The number remains today. (Lane, R. Producer), & Epstein, A. (Director). (2008). The Business of being born. ) Having drugs involved in the birthing process is now a routine in today’s modern society, for that which, I believe is because we have been taught to believe that it is customary to want drugs, and if you do not want drugs, you are setting yourself to suffer. Doctors who practiced obstetrics in the early times did not think that women were expected to be a part of the birthing process or in better words, actively awake.
They were continuously inventing drugs that were believed to help mothers endure labor, such as scopolamine, heavily used in the 40’s, 50’s, and 6o’s, that would put mothers in some type of form of an amnesia limbo; when effects of the drug would not elimate the pain, but wipe their memories of ever enduring the labor. In the thirties, x-rays were commonly used on the pelvis of a pregnant mother before they realized that it resulted in babies with cancer, and then in the 70’s, the drug, thalidomide previously used for morning sickness resulted in birth defects.
Cytotec drug used to jumpstart contractions in mothers, whom had C-Sections, previously frequently, resulted in ruptured uteruses, and high infant mortality. Maternity Care has a long history of inadequate health care in mothers and infants, with a heavy effect of drugs prescribed to mothers from obstetricians. Not only maternity care has changed, but labor and birth, as well. The common practice for midwifes in having mothers giving birth is the squatting position, which makes it easier for the mother and her baby, providing less strenuous energy and stress on both, mother and baby.
However, obstetricians have mothers lie on their backs, making it easier for the doctor to deliver the baby, but harder on mothers, because it makes her pelvis smaller and likely to have the baby’s head hit the spine of the mother, which makes it very painful to give birth. In today’s modern society, it is a trend to have a Cesarean Section, a major surgery, known better as C-Section or designer birth. Mothers can schedule their preferred arrival time of their baby, which makes it easier on the mother and doctor when expecting a child.
However, statistics show it provides a much more stressful environment for the mother and the baby, but a convenience for the doctor, resulting in a shorter labor. Pregnant mothers are viewed as a business made for doctors and hospitals as insurances typically cover infant birth and hospital bills. As Patricia Burkhardt, Clinical Associate Professor, NYU Midwifery Program could not speak the truth any better, she states, “Hospitals are a business. They want those beds filled and emptied.
They don’t want women hanging around the labor room. ” However, Ricki Lane, the producer of the film, “The Business of being Born,” hopes that viewers will see that economically, births out of hospitals and at home is cheaper with a midwife, who will charge their patients only $4,000 for everything, including post-natal care. Whilst, a normal vaginal birth can cost up to $13,000, and a birth with multiple drugs involved, which typically leads to C-Section costs up to $35,000.
However, with the American Medical association’s relationships with the hospitals and insurances, they are actually discouraging home births and midwifery, when the truth is that, statistically, it is safer and cheaper with home births and midwifes. It kind of makes you wonder just what exactly is on their agenda when it is a common practice to give births at home in both, developing and under developing countries, and has been for hundreds of years. In America, midwives attend less than 8% of all births and less than 1% of those occur outside a hospital.
At the same time, the US has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world. (Lane, R. (Producer), & Epstein, A. (Director). (2008). The Business of being born. ) Most people would think that if you were to choose a home birth over a hospital birth, it would be a foolish and a dangerous decision, however, with the data and statistics clearly presented in front of us, we are the ones who are blind and foolish to not even question America’s medical model and their intentions.
Cara Muhlhahn, Certified Nurse Midwife, states, “A woman doesn’t really need to be rescued. It is not the place for a knight in shining armor. It’s the place for her to face her darkest moment and lay claim to her victory, so that she can lay claim to her victory after she’s done it. ” This is a view that clearly and pinpoints my view on the medical and midwifery view in our society today, and by setting ourselves differently in how we handle maternity care, labor, and birth differently from other countries; we are clearly setting ourselves huge and many steps back.