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