Lessons from The Business of Being Born

In general, I think it’s a bad idea for pregnant women to watch certain pregnancy related things during the more vulnerable moments of their amazing transformation. I’m all for educating yourself about what is coming, but honestly at certain times, in certain moods, a pregnant woman is just being masochistic and scaring herself.

Once, a few weeks ago, at 10:30 at night, I accidentally watched a 5 minute video of an epidural being given and the subsequent birth that followed. My dreams that night (when I finally slept) were…colorful.  Bad idea. Very bad. I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that again. Scaring myself serves no purpose. Besides, there’s plenty of random people who are willing to do that for me by sharing scary labor stories from hell.

Then last night, I started watching The Business of Being Born– don’t ask me why. I don’t know. Consciously, I was trying to educate myself about birthing options. Unconsiously, I think I was trying to toughen myself up. The documentary primarily covers the entire maternity system that exists in the United States and how it got from where it was to where it is. But it also shows several home births, water births, squatting births, and regular hospital births. And it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know birth could be that way.

I’m not being hyperbolic here- I think this documentary just changed my life.

There’s one scene that absolutely fascinated me and captured every speck of my attention: early in the documentary, a woman is doing a home water birth. She’s-

Wait, I’ll just warn you that this is going to get intimate. If you’re not interested in learning something about a primal process that is indelicate to say the least, you should stop reading right here. Really. Still here? Back to my story then…

So, a home birth in a tub. The soon-to-be mother is squatting in the tub. The midwife reaches around, into the water, and a few moments later, there is a baby, between the woman’s legs. No fervent screams, no crazy scary chaotic scenes. She’s been in labor for a while of course, but the final moments of the process are more…calm somehow than I thought they could be. Less antiseptic. The logic of the position (not being flat on your back) makes total sense when you see it. But I’d never before in my life seen it. It stopped me in my tracks. I rewound the scene and watched it again. I didn’t know it could BE that way in birth. What an amazing realization.

I don’t know if I can describe what a mental shift it was for me to see an option that I didn’t even know existed before. What it’s like to see a process that you thought you knew, but see it in a completely different way than you thought possible.

Sharing something more personal than usual for me: I have felt from the very beginning of this experience that my body knows exactly what it is doing. I’m growing a healthy baby, and I’m doing it just fine without a doctor standing there, telling me how to do it. My body knows how to tell me what I need, when I need it. In short- I’ve got this.

The Business of Being Born just reaffirmed for me what my body was already telling me- it knows what it’s doing. And I learned some cool stuff about my options for the future, and how they might affect the entire labor and delivery process. There’s more research and education to be done, but my desire for a doula is stronger than ever, and my anxiety is lessened…somewhat. 🙂


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