The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition
Promoted in partnership with Choices in Childbirth and intended as an educational tool to be used in curricula for nursing, medicine, women’s studies, public health, and other classroom settings, the film includes:
- a 30-minute version of the original Business of Being Born documentary
- two extra interviews with celebrity parents discussing childbirth
- a presentation by Boston University professor and researcher, Eugene DeClercq, on “Birth by the Numbers”
- an extensive tool kit designed to assist professors as they integrate the film into their classroom teaching
As someone who has both taught college courses (as a graduate student in philosophy) and presented guest lectures to college students on the topic of childbirth, I think that The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition could be a valuable resource for both instructors and students alike. I think that it shares often-unheard perspectives on maternity care in the United States, and I think that it can open up the possibility for helpful and informative classroom discussions on any number of maternity care-related topics.
For one, though the film is obviously a condensed version of the original Business of Being Born (and is basically the original film, minus the segments documenting director Abby Epstein’s story), the main messages of the film are still clear. The United States maternity care system is not perfect. There are improvements that can be made. And childbearing women and birth advocates and all types of care providers can, and should, work together to make these needed improvements.
What’s more, I think that The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition could be especially eye-opening for college-aged students, nursing students, medical students, and others alike.
By “eye-opening,” I don’t mean that the film will likely inspire all viewers to run out to their nearest midwife so that they can give birth at home in the bathtub. In fact, although The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition certainly maintains a strong favorability toward home birth, the primary goal of the film does not seem to involve pushing women to give birth in any uniform way. In other words, the goal is not to demonize hospital birth and hospital-based maternity care providers. This much is reinforced by the educational tool kit included with the DVD.
Instead, I think that the major “takeaways” from the film–especially as it could be used in a college setting–might be more about inspiring critical thinking and open-mindedness than some sort of “home birth fervor.”
To explain, my guess is that for many students, the most important components of the film might not be the presentation of the statistics on U.S. maternity care outcomes (as exceedingly important as they are), nor might they be the appearance of any sort of birth advocacy (as exceedingly important as certain advocacy efforts are). Instead, what might be most important for students is what they have the opportunity to see in The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition.
They can see freedom of movement during labor. They can see birth as a potentially positive experience. They can see childbearing women who are empowered and confident, and they can see instances of maternity care that are compassionate and gentle.
At the very least, I think that any film that can inspire among its viewers a more nuanced and critical examination about childbirth and maternity care practice patterns is a film that is priceless indeed.
But more than that, no matter where or with whom they give birth, I think that it is priceless for students to learn that they can seek out the freedom and positive experience and empowerment that they see in the film: in a hospital, in a birth center, at home, with an OB/GYN, with a midwife. Moreover, I think that it is priceless for future parents and future care providers and policymakers to know that safe (and safer) maternity care can also encompass a more personalized and compassionate care than most people are accustomed to seeing.
And I think that when someone knows that any one of these things is possible, it becomes more likely that the possible will turn into something probable.
Disclosure: I received free access to The Business of Being Born: Classroom Edition for purposes of this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.