You are here

The Business of Being Born: A Must-See Documentary for Expectant Parents

My wife and I haven't agreed on every little thing over the years, but there is one thing that we have always agreed on: the best experiences of our lives so far have been the home births of our two sons.

I still remember both home births as though they occurred a few hours ago.

Margaret's labor with our firstborn was about six hours long. With the help of three midwives, we sweated and huffed and puffed our way through every hour. And I mean we.

About halfway through the labor, I distinctly remember thinking, I'll never say no to this woman again...whatever she asks for from now on, my answer will be yes. I know this is a bit of a funny thought to have had while she was crushing my hands during each wave of contractions, but the point that shouldn't be missed is this: I felt some serious respect and awe for my wife as I witnessed her giving birth to our firstborn.

And what can I say about the moment when I met our first son? Never in my life before that moment did I sob uncontrollably out of pure joy. I knew all too well what it felt like to bawl out of self pity or fear or sadness, but not out of joy, not until that moment.

The birth of our second son was a similar experience, but with far less anxiety, given our previous experience. Labor for our second-born was about two hours long, and to have our toddler son there with us to greet our new baby made it special in a way that I have difficulty describing. In a way, I feel that having our toddler son there to help welcome his little brother set the tone for their relationship forever.

Given our experiences, Margaret and I can't imagine giving birth in a hospital. We have no doubt that hospital births can be good experiences, and we feel that it is best to carry out home births with midwives who have hospital privileges. But knowing the many advantages of giving birth at home, we feel that all expectant parents should take some time to learn about the advantages of giving birth at home before deciding on where to give birth.

If you are an expectant parent and want to familiarize yourself with the advantages of giving birth at home, I recommend that you view a brilliant film called The Business of Being Born. This documentary is definitely for home births and against hospital births. While the makers of this documentary have a strong bias against hospital births, they ask viewers to consider questions that every expectant parent ought to seek answers to before making a decision on where to give birth; some examples of such questions are:

Why does the U.S. have the second-worst newborn death rate in the developed world?

Why are more than 40% of the deliveries done in some New York hospitals Caesarean sections?

Why, according to a study, are the peak hours for Caesarean procedures at 4 in the afternoon and 10 at night?

Here are some disturbing points that The Business of Being Born brings up while answering these and other questions:

  • The U.S. spends twice as much per birth than any other country in the world, yet has the second-worst newborn mortality rate and one of the highest rates of maternal death during childbirth.

  • Midwife-attended births in the U.S. have dropped from 50% in 1938 to less than 8% today; in the five countries that have the lowest infant mortality rates (Japan and four countries in Europe), 70% of births are carried out by midwives.

  • By 2005, 25% of American women underwent a Caesarean birth.

  • Modern American obstetrical care prioritizes making labor as convenient as possible for doctors, sometimes to the detriment of mother and baby; here are two examples of this:

    • It's natural for a woman to want to be in different positions (and even walk around) during labor; having a woman lie flat on her back on a gurney during labor serves to makes things convenient for medical personnel.

    • Powerful drugs are often used to speed up labor to decrease waiting time for the doctor, even when these drugs sometimes necessitate the use of powerful painkillers.

  • Female obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Eden Fromberg, recalls being advised that Caesarean sections are a hedge against lawsuits, because "(Patients) can never fault you if you just section them."

  • According to Dr. Michael Brodman, chief obstetrician and gynecologist at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, American hospitals and insurance companies want patients in and out of bed as quickly as possible; C-sections can be scheduled in advance or can cut short the labor process.

I think that this documentary does an excellent job of encouraging expectant parents to think about how they can have the healthiest and most meaningful birthing experience possible, rather than just submit to what's expected of them by their health care provider, relatives, and friends.

Based on my wife's and my experiences with giving birth at home, we feel that it's well worth every expectant parent's time to give serious consideration to having a home birth.

If you have a home or hospital birthing experience that might be helpful to share with expectant parents who aren't sure about where to give birth, please consider sharing your experience via the comments section below.

DVDs and film downloads can be obtained at their official website: The Business of Being Born. You can also watch the full film via YouTube in the player below:


Join more than 80,000 readers worldwide who receive Dr. Ben Kim's free newsletter

Receive simple suggestions to measurably improve your health and mobility, plus alerts on specials and giveaways at our catalogue

Please Rate This

Your rating: None Average: 3 (88 votes)
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.


I loved my homebirths. I wouldn't change a thing about
them. I know that not everyone can have a homebirth
(e.g. due to pregnancy factors, availability of
midwives, etc.) so I am grateful I was in a position
where I could. Our midwives were so wonderful! They
came as soon as we called when my contractions were 5
minutes apart. They waited with me and encouraged my
efforts. They encouraged me to change birthing
positions throughout my labour.

They respected our decisions.

I felt like they really cared about us.

Our midwives came to our house for postpartum check-up
visits as that's part of their practice. They came the
day after I gave birth, 3 days after, 5 days after,
and 10 days after. They were still on-call for us 24
hours a day, 7 days a week until the final in-office
appointment which was 6 weeks postpartum. They helped
teach me how to breastfeed my baby.

If a doctor had overseen my pregnancy with long
waiting-room waits, short appointments, and in-office
postpartum check-ups, I think I would have cried. The
longest we ever had to wait for a prenatal appointment
with our midwives was 15 minutes (but usually we were
seen almost right away). Each appointment was 45
minutes long.

If I had been made to lie down on my back while I
laboured I think I would have killed someone - it was
THE most uncomfortable position when I was in labour.

I am so glad that our children were guided into this
world by the loving hands of our midwives.

I encourage every woman who is planning on having a
baby to consider midwifery care and a homebirth.
Doctors will tell you how many babies they have
delivered; midwives tell you that women deliver their
own babies, they (midwives) are just there to help.

Hello Dr Ben,

I also had my two sons in our home with the care of midwifes. I must say it was a great experience and like you, can image the experience so clear in my mind as if it happened just hours ago. Many of my friends and family thought we were crazy to have a birth at home but I always thought the opposite, a hospital birth was crazy. My first son was born at 9:36pm, by midnight the midwives had left and we were all asleep for the night. 10:00am the next mourning the midwife return to check on things. The care you get from a midwife is far more personal and you get much more attention than being in a hospital seeing various nurses and doctors that you are unfamilar with. It just made sense to me to have our kids at home.

Tienus Brand

Hi Dr. Ben,
I've contacted you before - I'm the mom of nine children
(and now the happy grandma of eight as well! Lucky me! All the fun with none of the sleep deprivation!)
I think this movie is showing near me tonight; so am thinking about birthing issues...
I can remember the debate in the early 1970's in Alberta, Canada where I live about whether fathers should be allowed in the hospital labor/delivery room. My husband distinctly didn't want to be there! so he was NOT happy that the "rules" were changed shortly before our first son was born. (He hated needles and wasn't wild about the sight of blood, or pain, etc.)
Well, long story short, he changed his mind and gave it a try, and was so awed and grateful to participate in all nine births eventually.
During those hectic years when I was having babies (not very close together, either - our kids have a 20 yr. spread in ages!) the debate about midwifery heated up, and some nurse-midwives in our nearest city started a business together. (They still worked regular shifts at the hospital too). I was considered "high-risk", due to the infant death of our 3rd child, and we also lived way out of town; so I chose to stay with the hospital option; but these wonderful women really showed me what it was to care about birthing, and women and babies. We asked them to get more and more involved each time, until our last son was born with continuous midwifery labor support, with the obstetrician only appearing to "catch the baby" at the last minute. (He was not initially impressed with our plan - but couldn't deny that it was both safe and helpful
for me, the mother).
Even though I chose an induction, due to diabetes complications, it was a thrill to feel more
"in charge" of my labor, even helping it progress naturally after the obstetrician had threatened more medical intervention; and to get through it without any drugs. I feel that's what empowered me, in fact, when we discovered our son had a cleft palate (no cleft lip) and couldn't suckle naturally. I had to feed pumped breastmilk exclusively for 4 months (an incredibly challenge); then our son had what was at that time, I believe, the earliest cleft palate repair surgery ever done in Canada. After 1 week recovery, he breastfed fully and naturally til he was a toddler.
I went on to research his condition even more and wrote a research pamphlet that eventually won awards and even changed the La Leche League International printed materials (which were previously inaccurate). On the basis of that research, I also got an equivalency (of sorts) to attend University of Calgary med. school where I successfully completed some grad classes in Community Health Sciences.
I have moved on to other endeavors now, but always think of those wonderful midwives and their help to me when I hear about home births. Home births and midwives don't necessarily have to go together! Sadly, although they now have hospital privileges here now, Alberta still doesn't pay for midwifery, more's the pity, so we've lost many of those wonderful women to other jobs in the States, BC, etc. Too bad.
I think - no, I know - that our mothers and babies here are the poorer for it.
If we all encouraged governments to encourage midwifery - could we make a difference?
With love,

I've been using Dr.Ben Kim products for years and had no idea that his wife had home births. I first found Dr. Ben Kim's products because I wanted the most natural products in helping me achieve optimal health. Fast forward several years and I was pregnant so I started looking for the most optimal and natural way to deliver a baby. Suffice it to say, my husband and I decided to have a home birth. My husband and I took several birthing classes with both my local hospital and privately. We then hired a midwife and a doula. During the pregnancy I did prenatal yoga, practiced a little bit bit on "Hypnobirthing" and took one month off work prior to my due date (In the State of California this is when you can legally start your maternity leave and start receiving SDI benefits). I drank a lot of water and walked often. I had gestational diabetes and was advised by my hospital to deliver there. I continued to plan for the home birth but had the birth plan to include driving to the hospital at the first sign of problems. My healthy beautiful son was delivered 8 days after his due date, at home. Labor lasted a little under 7 hours and with the help of my husband (helping me to do our special breathing technique) the labor and delivery was virtually painless. For me, I would choose a home birth again in a heartbeat.