I saw The Business of Being Born with my sister on campus. Before I viewed this documentary, it had never occurred to me how political and oftentimes disrespectful hospitals can be towards women in labor. They often disregard a woman’s wishes about her own body. This is because hospitals have a system. And once you are swept up in that system, which is designed in the hospital’s best interests, it is almost impossible to get out or express your opinions. If labor lasts more than twelve hours (and it usually will), women are drugged up and basically told to hurry up. Giving birth on your back adds unnecessary stress, pain, and a likelier chance that something will go wrong. Gravity is not there to aid you. The hips are not in an optimal position for birth, and this can lead to complications. The medications that are administered screw up the body’s natural process. These drugs increase labor and block pain, alternatively, and eventually a C-section is ordered because it’s taking too long. If you want to give birth in any way other than on your back, you’re pretty much out of luck. Midwives are your best chance for a natural birth that isn’t unnecessarily difficult.
Now, why are hospitals so unconcerned with the way things are run?
I use a quote from Kate Millett: “Our society, like all other historical civilizations, is a patriarchy. The fact is evident at once if one recalls that the military, industry, technology, universities, science, political office, and finance—in short, every avenue of power within the society, including the coercive force of the police—is entirely in male hands” (Millett 181).
Again, hospitals are a business. Businesses are, sadly, usually run by men. Businesses generally have little concern with the issues of the individual. Birth is seen as nothing but a process to get over and done with quickly. Getting people in and out is what they care about. Their goal is to make money.
I am not saying that hospitals are evil things. Nor am I saying that men are causing all this. I am saying, however, that the men and women who often extrapolate their misogynistic ideas do not understand the necessity of birth. Birth creates a bond between mother and baby and allows a rush of endorphins that will never otherwise be experienced. It is an important process, one that should not be brushed over or ignored. And yet, hospitals screw up the process and ignore the importance.
I realize that sometimes it is not possible to give birth without assistance. For those who need the help, hospitals are the way to go, absolutely. But I feel that if it is possible to give birth mostly medically unaided, one should attempt to do so. The only way the insure that one gets a fair opinion and a say in their own birthing process is to contact a midwife, as midwives are generally more experienced with birth than hospitals are, and there is a greater chance that they will listen to you. Midwife births are usually safer than hospitals, and they’re a lot cheaper. I say stay the hell away from the hospital unless it is necessary to go.