Ricki Lake produces “The Business of Being Born”



Photo from The Business of Being Born

It’s hard for me to express just how excited I am about the new documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” with Ricki Lake as the executive producer. From what I have read and seen, it looks like it was very well done. It is my supreme hope that it will continue to build momentum towards a shift in how birth happens in this country.

There was just a brief discussion about it on The View this morning. I don’t normally watch The View, but a friend told me Ricki was going to be on, so I tuned in to catch what I could while Ava chattered in the background. ;) Ricki said she isn’t trying to say that everyone should have a home birth or that she’s anti-hospitals, but she wants all women to know that they have a choice. Rosie O’Donnell sounded very supportive of it and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who’s pregnant with her second child, seemed very interested as well. Joy Behar said she was skeptical. I guess ya can’t win ’em all. And Barbara Walters wasn’t there. (aww, bummer. ha!)

Here are a few clips from the segment. It sucks that I can’t find the whole thing online yet. Maybe later.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/calhs-fFn5c]

Added on 5/5/07: Someone on Mothering.com posted a link to the whole Ricki Lake segment on “The View” from the other day.

About the documentary from The Business of Being Born:

THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN

Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big
business.

Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki
Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have
babies.

Epstein gains access to several pregnant New York City women as they weigh
their options. Some of these women are or will become clients of Cara
Muhlhahn, a charismatic midwife who, between birth events, shares both
memories and footage of her own birth experience.

Footage of women having babies punctuates THE BUSINESS OF BEING
BORN. Each experience is unique; all are equally beautiful and equally
surprising. Giving birth is clearly the most physically challenging event these
women have ever gone through, but it is also the most emotionally rewarding.
Along the way, Epstein conducts interviews with a number of obstetricians,
experts and advocates about the history, culture and economics of childbirth.
The film’s fundamental question: should most births be viewed as a natural life
process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency?
As Epstein uncovers some surprising answers, her own pregnancy adds a very
personal dimension to THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN, a must-see movie for
anyone even thinking about having a baby.

Want to read more? Here’s an interview with Ricki Lake and the Huffington Post discussing the movie. Here’s a bit of it:

Why did you want to produce this film?
I wanted to make this movie after my two very different birth experiences with my children. I felt like I had an opportunity to explore and question birthing practices in this country and perhaps be an advocate for mothers’ rights and better maternity care.

How did your personal birth experiences influence you?
After the birth of my sons, particularly my home birth with my second son, I thought I wanted to become a midwife. Then I looked at all the years of schooling and training that I would have to do and felt that the time could be better spent doing a documentary on the subject of birth.

How intimate does the film get?
I am naked at 195 pounds giving birth in my own bathtub. It can’t get any more intimate than that!

What do you hope people take away from the film?
A lot! I hope this film educates people and empowers them to really know their choices in childbirth. We do not want to make any woman feel bad about the outcome of her birth, or the choices she made (or will make).

The film is currently premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and, according to Rosie O’Donnell on The View, it was the only film that received a standing ovation. :)

I leave you with some quotes about birth:

“If we are to heal the planet, we must begin by healing birthing.” — Agnes Sallet Von Tannenberg

“$13 to $20 billion a year could be saved in health care costs by demedicalizing childbirth, developing midwifery, and encouraging breastfeeding.” — Frank Oski, MD, Professor and Director, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

“Unfortunately, the role of obstetrics has never been to help women give birth. There is a big difference between the medical discipline we call “obstetrics’ and something completely different, the art of midwifery. If we want to find safe alternatives to obstetrics, we must rediscover midwifery. To rediscover midwifery is the same as giving back childbirth to women. And imagine the future if surgical teams were at the service of the midwives and the women instead of controlling them.” — Michel Odent, MD

“The experience profoundly changed my perspective. In the hospital, I hadn’t perceived the anxiety and foreboding that permeated birth until I experienced the impact of its absence among the midwives. The peace, wonder, and intimacy were infinitely greater. What a compelling difference!” — Heidi Rinehart, MD (as quoted in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin)