Nursing Birth

One Labor & Delivery Nurse’s View From the Inside

Pregnant In America: A (Brief) Review March 13, 2009

I recently was sent a link to a website that lets you watch the 2008 documentary entitled Pregnant in America: A Nation’s Miscarriage for free.  The catch is that it will only let you watch 72 minutes of the movie, and then it makes you wait an hour to watch the rest (unless you sign up for their program which costs money). So if you don’t mind watching half the movie before dinner and then the other half after dinner, it’s worth it to just wait watch it for free!


The synopsis posted on the documentary’s website reads:


“Pregnant in America is a motivational and inspirational documentary made by film maker Steve Buonagurio about the birth of his daughter Bella. Shocked by the greed of U.S. hospitals, insurance companies and medical organizations, Steve and his wife Mandy set out to create a natural home birth in a world where everything is anything but natural. The film is as much educational as it is entertaining and prepares excepting parent for their uncertain journey of being pregnant and having their baby.”


My overall impression of the movie was good, as it is very empowering to see “ordinary” people (that is, couples who are not already in the birth advocacy community) honestly researching all their options once they become pregnant as opposed to buying into the medicalized culture of fear that so many of us grew up to believe is the only way.  I have been meaning to watch the movie a second time so that I may give it a more thorough review but just haven’t found the time.  Check back soon for an update!


My only criticism of the movie is that it seems a bit scatterbrained and “all over the place” at times and when I finished watching the movie, part of me felt like there was no real cohesive message but instead, a bunch of scattered messages throughout.  Other than that I feel it is a documentary worth watching.  I am also interested in hearing all of your impressions too J!  What do you think?!


9 Responses to “Pregnant In America: A (Brief) Review”

  1. Molly Says:

    WOW! What a powerful film! Honestly… I loved it much more than business of being born. Ironic though… in both films the feature mom ended up needing the hospital. I agree it was very scattered, and drew no obvious conclusions… but maybe that is fitting. Birth is really scattered! And there is not just one conclusion… it is different for everyone. Really its just about informing the public that there ARE other SAFE options out there! Thanks for finding this film!!!

  2. nursingbirth Says:

    Hmm, I never thought of it that way! 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Katherine Says:

    I thought it a good documentary for this person’s experience with birth, but not so great at really exploring the broader topics. I personally think the doom’n’gloom over Cytotec was over the top, as I *DO* think it over-used and not properly respected, but it’s an invaluable tool when used carefully for those women who need to be medically induced when their cervix is unfavorable. It’s definitely saved many a woman from an otherwise forgone c/s, and if properly managed, is enormously useful.

    Unfortunately, the birth story struck me as very guy-focused, and I felt disconnected from both his wife and his sister. He seemed more concerned about showing the “dark side” of medicine rather with their evil laughter and security guards than focusing on how this was affecting the women involved. I wish we’d heard more from his wife about how the birthing process went for her, and how she felt about the transfer. Did her husband really have the final say about that? What did *she* think?

    Also, I wonder why they didn’t ask for Bella’s medical records. Are they not their property, at least copies? No diagnosis? Seriously? Maybe the NICUs I’ve been around are strikingly different, but I have a hard time swallowing that she stayed in the NICU three days without any kind of diagnosis, even if it were only prophylactic antibiotics for transient respiratory distress after delivery.

    It was still a very interesting story, and I really appreciate you putting it up!

    • HighRiskPreggo Says:

      While I found much of the information shared by the experts to be very helpful, I was extremely put-off by the arrogance of Steve. it almost seemed to me that he was more interested in forcing his wife to give birth at home to help complete his film than in listening to her body and her needs. When she asked to go to the hospital, he summoned in his Mom and the midwife to talk her out of it. Women, even first time mothers in the midst of giving birth, have the greatest instincts nature has ever provided. She knew something was not right, which is why she asked to go to the hospital. He denied her that option and it could have had a very bad outcome. I was also highly insulted FOR the thousands of loving, dedicated, highly-skilled NICU nurses and techs when he said they were, “far from perfect”. He could not have provided the life-saving care to his daughter, yet, he insults the very people who treat each tiny patient as his or her own and go home each night worrying about other peoples’ babies. I do not believe for a nanosecond that they were never given a diagnosis. No hospital is going to occupy a NICU staff for three days and nursey staff for an additional 4….especially with no guarantee of payment….without a concrete diagnosis.

      I have no choice but to have c-sections because of a history of CVA (stroke) and because I have a seizure disorder. Labor can induce seizures, which can harm my baby. He never addressed the fact that some women HAVE to have sections, or that part of the reason the c-section rate has multiplied in 30 years is because technology and the ability to forsee problems has, too.

      Overall, I felt that Steve was too drama-driven and focused on reinforcing his own opinions regarding birth rather than offering a balanced view. I wonder if he would opt for no help if HE was the one giving birth?!

      • Critique Says:

        I def agree with you. Steve just did not have me convinced. He actually got me angry towards the end of the documentary.

      • Skylar Says:

        While the documentary does offer compelling information about allowing a mother the natural birthing process vs. medical – this documentary did not offer real life medical/high risk testimonies and need for a medical intervention/environment.

  4. Jaimee Says:

    I agree with most of you. I fet like Steve was pushing his views on teh whole situation. As a woman who has a muscular dystrophy and went 41 and 1/2 weeks I had to go to the hospital and needed medications. I felt as if the movie attacked anything to do with the hospital systems and medications. “Back in the old days” when it was so great and every womn was empowered by childbirth, women like me wouldn’t have been alive much less had children. I was upset the whole time I was watching the movie.

  5. Shandory Says:

    The moral of the documentary was really based on healthy women having the option to give birth at home not for high risk pregancy women. That is why c-section are in place, for high risk pregnancies not healthy ones.

  6. Charles Says:

    Yeah, I get frustrated by poorly developed documentaries that either question the intelligence of the viewing audience or present a clearly one-sided position without nuance. The director’s position of “natural childbirth always good, hospitals always bad” is just…intellectually limited, and I hate any “documentary” that suggests that I can’t hold two competing ideas in my mind at the same time (in this case that there are legit reasons to choose one type of birth or the other, and that there’s a place in our society for both). Women who choose “natural” aren’t “better” mothers for it, and a nuanced and fully fleshed out review of the full facts supporting both sides (imagine that!?) would help any couple reject cultural pressures from either side, to do what’s right for them. This piece of film in my opinion, does nothing to help that type of analysis.

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