June 2008

This movie, Orgasmic Birth, focuses on the women giving birth, and that’s something the public has been waiting for a long time!! Every woman you’ve ever shared birth with is in this film. There is the mother who believes you trust doctors for everything and she ends up with an induction, epidural and baby finally born after two vacuum attempts … and she believes the doc saved her. You see the mom who also believes the same, is induced, and has a cesarean. However, the movie starts and ends with the mothers who have believed in the birth process, their bodies and that how they birth matters to their babies. You hear from fathers who love that their babies were born surrounded by their home and loved ones…their natural environment to begin life in.

Instead of the black/white contrast of The Business of Being Born, you have a sophisticated segue in the sense that the commentator’s information is presented around the story told so the dots are connected fully because these women tell their own story and the commentator fills in the ‘real’ story. It’s not told fear based, it’s told from a know natural birth perspective. No rant. It just is.

We believe that it is also the intent to interview everyone in a home or home-like atmosphere, with the exception of hospital footage for those two moms with routine medicalized birth … and that’s a smooth, thinking contrast. Every person is speaking softly even when venting on medical birth. Love the moment that Dr. Northrup tells us with medical intervention we “screw it up” — “it” being normal birth.

It is also one of the first films presented to the public to show a wonderful birth class outside of the hospital. We don’t know if it is the producer’s intent but perhaps the film is trying to turn Lamaze around and portray Lamaze in the Institute for Normal Birth light. We say this because the producers limited themselves to Lamaze. They did also keep footage of someone mentioning a Lamaze in-hospital class that they didn’t like.

We wish more had been done to represent other independent birth ed options as independent childbirth educators are among the most deeply anchored normal birth supporters in America and have always known that hospital preferred birth classes are a disservice to women, hindering their access to unbiased information and, many argue, used only for props to keep women birthing in hospitals. Around the world, normal birth education may not be done in the traditional setting that we in America are accustomed to but it is still independent of medical fear and bias, with knowledge transfer occurring rather as a woman to woman knowledge share with midwives as the informational conduit.

We do wish the film included reflection on mothers who are second or even third generation homebirthers as well. These women kept normal birth in America from completely fading away. There really needs to be a film as a tribute to these women pioneers. In other words, it is important that nations, especially America, fully recognize that home birth, normal birth is not something new; that women have believed in and enjoyed their normal births before 2008.

The births shown are wonderful. One of the best births is the mom who talks about childbirth as a mother’s sacrifice. You might cringe because you start thinking here we go… “Birth is painful. Birth is a sacrifice. Birth is about a medal.” However, to our delight, this mother delivers within a pretty normal window for active labor, 26 hours, she’s birthing at home and the midwife says outright in a hospital she would have been given pitocin and c-sectioned by now. The great thing is the mom talking afterwards about enjoying that birth for its own challenge for her if not for any great spiritual or relaxing birth story.

This is a great contrast to the mom who I mentioned above with the vacuum baby who says not until closer to her due date and hiring a doula did she hear anyone talk about embracing contractions. Until then everyone talked about labor as a difficult thing. You really do get the full connection of the contrast between the two women’s births… some of the responsibility lies with women doing the work to face and/or overcome fears… some of the responsibility lies with careproviders’ attitudes about birth and their inability to provide humanized birth. It’s not only about medical vs. normal birth. It’s also about what women are told, have been told and how it’s still quite accidental for women to hear about birth as an enjoyable event in their lives.

The abuse survivor’s birth and another homebirth will make you cry. The very personalized births will leave you smiling and swaying with the moms. Very cool.

We can’t wait to share it with you and we hope to see you at our screenings!! Just check our “Birth Events Near You” page on this blog.


The cause of rising malpractice insurance for obstetricians is NOT that birth is risky. It’s that the medical model for birth care, also known as managed birth, is dangerous. We are not a nation of women and babies who need saving from labor. According to ACOG’s greatest supporter, Dr. Amy’s latest responses on who deserves to decide who is licensed to be a midwife in America, she considers anything less than a medical model midwife ~ highly managed by an obstetrician ~ a “second class” of midwife.

Let’s consider this: the average American believes primitive homes with dirt floors are unsanitary places to give birth, a clean source of water is vital for our health for consumption and bathing, a nation ought to have good farmland for producing healthy foods organic or otherwise, a nation ought to have cutting edge physician care options and everyone has the right to a free public education to the high school level.

If we are a nation of women for whom the majority live in clean homes with clean drinking water, are able to purchase nutritious foods and supplement with container gardening if not a full garden, are educated to a high school level minimum then why does America’s infant mortality rate rank only 0.19% better than Croatia? The American government is spending millions on health care and technology aimed at the minority and lower income population to close the disparity in maternal outcomes. American health insurance companies spend millions reimbursing for ultrasounds, screenings and diagnostic tests for genetic counseling and detecting babies with anomalies while they are in utero.

Setting aside some of the possible causes for the disparities in the IMR (i.e. nations that allow for abortion, nations which use a different cut-off date for considering a death to fall under the Infant Mortality category, etc.) we still have what it takes to rank higher as a nation of healthy mothers and infants. If our government truly wishes to rest on its laurels for providing what our citizens need for whole, physical health then, yes, our country is poised for what Dr. Amy considers a “second class of midwives.”

Our country should be strong and proud to say we are a nation of healthy, low risk mothers and we have earned the right to be the first to recognize that non-intervention trained women may serve these mothers, and these non-intervention trained women are intelligent and can recognize through simple measures how to recognize the mother who must be transferred over to a next level of clinical care. That level of care can be the CNM who is the expert in navigating the halls of medical protocol and hospital policies in addition to the CNM having the board certification to enact ‘medicine.’ The next level after that should be the medical specialist who also has surgical skills.

Our front line for our nation of healthy women preparing to give birth should be the midwife who is the expert in normal birth as well as the expert regarding her community and its affect on the mothers seeking her birth expertise. She can be the dialogue bridge between the medical experts who are willing and available to provide specialized services and the woman who truly needs them.

When choosing [representatives] for your committee, please include midwives who still do 70% of the births in the world and are experts not only at ‘normal’ birth but at keeping infants normal around the birthing process. ~ MacDorman and Singh, 1998

Were it not for the 1% of women in America who continue to choose homebirth with normal birth experts, the public would never have access to experiencing normal birth and using spontaneous, vaginal birth over an intact perineum as the gold standard for which to measure all birth policy.

I sometimes wonder why [we bother compiling statistics on midwives], since their statistics are so much better than everyone else’s. ~ Rebecca Watson, New Mexico Department of Health

THIS ENTRY HAS BEEN EDITED TO CORRECT SOME FACTS RELATED BY “TRACY.” Yes, the stories you will be reading are true stories and experiences that occurred and are occurring.

The year is 1997. The place is Hackensack, New Jersey. A mother awakens in the early hours of the morning to go to the bathroom. She has spent the past two months with an uncomfortable ‘burn’ sensation whenever she rises from a sitting position. She is approximately 32 weeks into her pregnancy and out of habit she checks when she wipes. The paper is dark. She turns on the bathroom light and the amount of blood in the toilet alarms her. She calls her doctor’s office then 911 and then quietly awakens her husband not wanting to awaken her sleeping children. She calls a young woman who has babysat for her in the past. Her husband is trying not to panic but he runs outside waiting for the ambulance to arrive so he can direct them to the correct home.

Upon arrival at the hospital it is determined the birth is going to occur. This is her second spontaneous VBAC. The first occurred in 1995. She is advised by her obstetrician that a vaginal birth is the healthiest birth for her baby to receive every hormone he/she needs to signal to her baby that birth is imminent. Her obstetrician tells her matter of factly that she cannot be given pain medications as those drugs will depress babies’ respiratory systems.

Within hours a beautiful little boy is born. He weighs 4 pounds, 4.5 oz. He is the largest preemie in the NICU. She is pumping and bringing her breastmilk to the hospital for her son. She is there from 4am in the morning when her husband is home from work and she remains until late afternoon with him caring for their daughter until he brings her to the sitter and then comes to see his son and wife for a couple of hours before heading back to work again.

In those days while she is holding her son, singing to him, feeding him her milk and trying to coax him to breastfeed himself the nurses talk to her. It is during those days that she learns it is confirmed her son’s premature birth is due to a placenta abruptia and she learns it is common for pregnancies following cesareans. Two births earlier she had had an unnecessary c-section … they wouldn’t stop with the vaginal exams and fetal scalp blood draws …. she was in distress and her son made it clear he felt her distress.

* * * * *

The year is 2002. The place is Connecticut. A mother dreams a foretelling of an appointment with her doctor where she asks her doctor to talk to her now about cesareans and epidurals. She wants to know ahead of time so she can make choices if there is an emergency. Her next appointment is a deja vu. She asks to speak to her doctor now about cesareans and emergency situations. Her doctor brushes her off and tells her she’s fine. Nothing’s going to happen. Just a few days later her water breaks prematurely at 26 weeks. She is at the hospital and she is told if labor begins attempts will be made to stop it. If the medications do not work the birth will proceed. Nurses come in and tell her to sign this form and that form … one form being for a c-section. She says she is not consenting to a cesarean right now. The nurse states it is only in case of an emergency and she won’t have time to sign a consent form. She asks to talk about the procedure and her options first. The nurse tells her someone will come in after the doctor is finished with his observations of the labor and will talk to her then. No one ever comes.

The labor is proceeding. Within a few hours she feels her child emerging. The doctor sees the baby is a frank breech and pushes the baby back in and up the canal. Her husband sees a lot of blood. Mom is scared and no one is answering her questions. An anesthesiologist shows up and gives her directions to position for an epidural. What epidural she asks? The epidural for her c-section anesthesia. What C-Section she asks? Also, if there is going to be one she wanted general. That’s not a healthy option the doctor says. An epidural it is and it is not until after that she sees she was given a classical T incision but the doctor tells her she is triple stitched.

In the postpartum check ups that follow she has questions about what was done and why. Her doctor responds that she is being difficult and she should be happy her baby is healthy and alive. She responds that she has had miscarriages, her baby was ripped from her body and is still in the hospital away from her so please excuse her for not being easier right now. Two years later she receives her hospital records as she requested and sees no one has written why she had a cesarean or any information regarding the surgery other than she has a classical incision.

The year is 2007. She is pregnant and she is joyful in her pregnancy. She wants to refuse a vaginal ultrasound on the grounds of the previous ones coincidentally preceding miscarriages. She is again accused of being difficult and her doctor is defensive of technology and it’s use is solely to know ahead of time if something is wrong with her baby. She dismisses any connection between ultrasounds and miscarriages. NOTE: “Tracy” miscarried twice, within five months of each other, since her cesarean. Her third miscarriage occurred two days after a more invasive type of ultrasound, a transvaginal ultrasound.

She is unhappy with how she, her thoughts, her research into her options and what is healthiest are dismissed. She wants to birth a different way. With someone who will hear her and who will read the research with her and who knows what normal, spontaneous birth looks like, feels like, smells like.

So she begins her search for answers and she comes across research that lists the order for the risk of uterine rupture based on type of incision as:

low transverse 0.5% [Haq 1988] – 2.0% [Clark 1988]

low vertical 1.3% [Enkin 1989]

classical and inverted T 2.2% – 4.0% depending on the study

upright T and J-incision may be higher; data needs to be found

Frye, Anne “Holistic Midwifery Volume I

She comes across articles that foretell the difficult journey she has ahead, a fight for the right to choose her own health care for her body, for her baby.