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This Will Change Your Mind About Birth!

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Before you have a baby, know that it doesn't have to be an experience of fear. You can be empowered, in control, and have a voice. Learn about the movement that's taking women, moms, the government, and even your OB by storm.

Ricky Lake

Momlogic's Talitha: I'm six and a half months pregnant, and frankly, the thought of giving birth scares the sh*t out of me. The thing is, I know women everywhere do it every day, but I think there's been a certain fear instilled in me. After watching the film "The Business of Being Born," I realized the reason why so many women are so scared. America treats childbirth like an emergency, like something that has to be managed. It's not. They do it differently all over the world, and just learning about what it all really means and what I need to know before that day comes helped me set aside my fears. Am I going to give birth in a hospital? Yes. Am I still scared? Yes. But I am aware and more ready to take control, and not let others create the experience for me. I talked to Executive Producer Ricki Lake and Director Abby Epstein about the film and their new book, Your Best Birth.

ML: Why did you make "The Business of Being Born"?
Abby: This movie has pulled back the curtain about what it means to have a baby. The thing we love most is the stories we've heard after the movie, about how some wanted to have a home birth and some were saying "Oh, natural birth is definitely NOT for me." They are stories, though, of empowerment. It gave them language so they wouldn't be victimized by the fear that pervades childbirth in America. It's unfortunate that women sometimes surrender the experience to something because they don't know, they don't have a voice. But women are saying it could be a positive, empowering experience. That is so huge.

ML: What do you hope will happen as a result of the movie and your new book?
Abby: We hope to change the gap. We have this tradition of viewing birth as a medical emergency, and for a healthy woman, it's just not. Thankfully, midwives are now becoming more common in hospitals but the healthcare system really needs to change. Midwives and doctors are competitors -- in other countries, a doctor births a high-risk mom and a midwife births a healthy mom. We have to remember, the medical system requires a number of C-sections, therefore they use sayings like "The baby has a low heart rate -- we need to do an emergency C-section" in order to give women C-sections. Did you really need one? Who knows. Women have no control.

ML: Are you proponents of home births, then?
Ricki: We are proponents of midwives. I had a hospital birth that was great and a home birth that was great. After looking back at my hospital birth, though, I was like "Why did I need pitocin, why did they rush me? Birth can take 3 days sometimes." It got me interested. One was definitely more empowering and I was in control, and I didn't feel like decisions were being made without me. I gave birth in the bathtub in "The Business of Being Born," and one of the most incredible things was that my baby was with me the entire time right after the birth. A lot of time went by and the midwife then came and asked me to weigh the baby. In a hospital, they have routine procedures that separate mom from baby. If the baby seems fine, why do they need this?

If I had kids again, I'd definitely do it at home!

Abby: Hospitals play the "dead baby card," like "She's not doing well" or "We have to get the baby out now." I had a C-section, and it was traumatic for me and my son. One of the things people forget is that labor is started by the baby -- it's a hormone. The baby is ready to come out. The baby initiates. A C-section interrupts natural development. And the whole thing about C-sections being more "safe"? They are SO much more dangerous, it's major surgery. Is it better/safer in certain situations? Yes, for sure, but in many cases, no.

ML: Home birth versus hospital?
Ricki: The outcomes are the same, the death rates, but home births have less medical interventions. Studies have proven it's just as safe. You have to be more prepared for a home birth: birth attendants have to be trained in resuscitation, you have to make sure you are the proper candidate and what your comfort level is, going without medication, etc.

ML: If there's one message readers can take away from this, what would it be?
Ricki and Abby: For a pregnant woman to do her homework. Her choices and opinions do matter. If something doesn't sound right, ask questions, make changes that make you feel comfortable. Be heard.

ML: How about some personal questions? Ricki, how do you do it all, as a single mom? How do you balance career, your kids, dating?
Ricki: I'm doing work that's important for many people. I love being a mom, I love being single. I have freedom. I'm totally fulfilled. I don't have it all figured out at all, but being divorced is actually helpful because I have time for myself. I get Wednesday night off, that's my night!

ML: Do you have time for meals with your family?
Ricki: Ha. I don't cook. I can't make an egg or toast. We don't have the sit-down dinner figured out yet. We're a family on the go, we eat on the run.

Are you currently pregnant? Be sure to watch the film, and visit Ricki and Abby's website!

next: "We Have Dinner Together Every Night"
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kimberly May 23, 2009, 1:09 PM

My friend just loaned me this movie and I can’t wait to watch it. I’m pregnant for the 2nd time. My first birth was a hospital birth that I had intended to be natural. Instead, I was given pitocin, my water was broken, and then when the baby didn’t come by 4pm, they rushed me in for a c-section, playing that “dead baby” card. My son and I are healthy and happy, but the experience taught me how I want to direct my labor this time. I have switched to a midwife and am planning a hospital VBAC. I agree that Ricki and Abby’s book, website and movie (I’ll watch it today) give women a broader “language” with which to talk to others about their choices. My hubs was/is nervous about not using an OB/GYN, but he’s coming around with all the education and information. :) Thanks!

RachelAZ May 23, 2009, 3:43 PM

refuse to support anything that Ricki Lake does. I got MOST of the way thru her movie “The Business of Being Born” until I quit watching after a doctor they interviewed said it is impossible for women who gave birth with an epi or by c/s to love and protect their children. Because women who give birth naturally get those hormones that MAKE them love and protect their children. He then went on to use monkeys as an example and said “If monkeys give birth by C/s they disown their child and don’t look after them”. He then said “What will happen to humanity if the c/s rate continues to rise?” Meaning that women who give birth by c/s will just disown their children. I’d love to ask him how MEN love and protect their children…they didn’t get a flush of hormones from giving birth! And what about the women who give birth in the basement of their homes without anyone knowing and then throw their child in the trash? They didn’t have an epi or c/s!! Ricki Lake is complete trash and turns to fear mongering. It’s disgusting to think that ANYONE finds her to be a woman empowerer!!!! If you’ve never watched the movie, it’s around the 1 hour mark of the movie. I stopped watching right after the doctor’s stupid rant at 1:09. Complete TRASH!!!!!

Jill (the other one) May 23, 2009, 5:43 PM

A lot of these things depend on your OB and the hospital at which you deliver.
I know it’s not popular to say so, but the fact is that not every doctor and hospital are out to get you and make money off of your labor. There are a lot of good, decent, competent people in the health care industry.

jackie May 23, 2009, 7:46 PM

WOA Rachel AZ, i don’t think the monkey referral actually means women will disown their babies—it’s not that literal.It’s just an example about how far we have come from treating childbirth like a natural occurrence instead of something that needs to be controlled by the medical industry. Relax ! A lot of what the film stands for are what every woman should know to be educated about what could andDOES happen at hospitals. That’s all. For women to take back the process rather than going into it and letting others make their decisions. Kind of like parenting—you want to make choices about your children yourself right? NOt leave it upto your kids’ teacher or doctor or whoever. Wouldn’t you then start the moment your baby is born to do this? To be involved in the process?! THe point of the movie is to do what feels right for you and what is best for the baby, and sometimes giving a woman pitocin or an emergency C isn’t the BEST thing. Sometimes it is.
I was fascinated by the movie, I think it showed both sides.

Miranda May 24, 2009, 12:18 PM

I agree with Jill. I think a lot of people don’t discuss their birth plans with their OBs in advance and then are disappointed when things don’t go their way because it’s not the hospital’s and/or doctor’s protocol. That being said, if I were still in NYC, I probably would have a Doula or Midwife by my side because a lot of the residents are inexperienced and have demi-god complexes, getting upset when patients ask about why a certain routine is done. But now that I’ve moved back to the country, the team of doctors at my small hospital care a lot more about patient satisfaction than turning a huge profit or boosting their egos.

mercaties May 24, 2009, 7:02 PM

Everyone has a right to do what they want but I’m not willing to put mine or my baby’s life in jepordy should a problem arise by having a home birth. As for all the mom’s that want a natural birth, nobody thinks your a hero because you did it natural I just think your nuts. Why put yourself through that kind of pain to prove something when there are methods of pain managemnt to make you comfortable. Don’t give me that crap about it’s safer for the baby, millions of baby’s are born with the assistance of epidurals and pain meds and they are perfectly fine. Yes, I have read Ricki’s book and I think she’s nuts. I’ll take a hospital and an epidural thank you, will see who has the easier birth.

Mom May 25, 2009, 7:12 AM

As for hormones creating mother/child bonding - baloney! Hormones also create postpartum depression leading women to kill their infants. For all the natural childbirth advocates out there, there is no clinical evidence that epidurals are harmful. It’s a myth perpetuated by doctors. The one actual study done to examine the issue found better outcomes with epidurals than without. My best friend had virtually no pain - an epidural at 2cm, and gave birth to her first child - a baby weighing over 10 pounds - in five hours with no difficulty for her or the baby. I had no epidural and could not give birth to a child weighing less than 7 pounds after 24 hours, 12 of them on pitocin while lying in the same position unmoving the entire time due to baby heartdeat irregularity, and with no pain relief at all. There was not room for my son to come out due to my tiny, 4”11” frame, and as shown by the enormous bulgig crown on his head. My biggest regret is in not insisting on a C-section sooner. Labor is not a picnic for the baby either and my son had too much trauma.

Kathryn May 25, 2009, 10:28 AM

I was told by an OB a week before my due date that I should go to ER immediately to have labor induced because my son was at risk of being stillborn. She believed this because an ultrasound that I requested showed him to be only 5 pounds. I refused and delivered a week later with a midwife after 18 minutes of pushing and 3 hours of labor. Oliver was born at 6 lbs 8 ounces and was incredibly healthy and happy. It’s just my experince but I worked with two OB’s and a midwife birthing center during my pregnancy and found that most Doctors are too busy or don’t care about the patient…money is top priority. I knew exactly how I wanted my pregnancy to be and didn’t want to be treated like I had an illness so I proactive and forceful in the decision making. I lived in Kenya for a while and regularly delivered healthy babies in homes with dirt floors and dirty linens. Childbirth is natural and should be left that way. It’s a form of natural selection and modern medicine interfering with that will have scary and dangerous outcomes.

RachelAZ May 26, 2009, 2:59 AM

Kathryn, so by “natural selction” do you mean that even if we have the means of saving a baby or mother’s life we shouldn’t do so because nature intends for them to die? I’m sure you’ll feel that way when your child comes down with some deathly disease and there is a cure for it…will you believe it’s natural selection at that point? I doubt it. Modern medicine has saved lives and it shouldn’t be viewed as evil!

maureen June 2, 2009, 4:42 PM

In reply to…I’d love to ask him how MEN love and protect their children…they didn’t get a flush of hormones from giving birth!

Actually, research has shown that fathers experience specific differences in hormone levels, including a higher prolactin level and lower testosterone level, to prime them to provide care for their offspring.

RachelAZ June 4, 2009, 3:08 AM

That is true, but they didn’t actually give birth. You’d have to watch the crap movie and hear the way the doctor says the things and exactly what he says to understand where I’m coming from. He (in a nutshell) says it’s absolutely impossible for someone to love & care for their child if they don’t give birth naturally (and last I checked, men don’t give birth period).

Sarah H. June 4, 2009, 9:38 PM

I dont understand why every woman who doesnt want to have natural birth thinks that women who do are “crazy” or “out to prove something”. Thats just ridiculous. Maybe those women just believe that is the best thing for them and their children. Some people believe that natural is best is has nothing to do with proving anything to anyone.

Bptktrlp June 25, 2009, 12:06 AM

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Dustin January 27, 2010, 4:28 PM

We just had an at home birth on January 5th. My wife gave birth to a beautiful 8.5 pound baby boy.

I would do it again and again!

The Business of Being Born is a great informative movie!

It not about proving anything to anyone it’s about real connection.

If you believe what movies have you thinking about a traumatic birthing emergency experience your wrong.

This is one of the most intimate experiences humanly possible! Don’t get cheated!

I caught my baby boy at home! It was truly amazing and surprisingly not as scary as you would imagine.


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