Musings of a crunchy, domestic goddess

Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

Ricki Lake produces “The Business of Being Born” May 1, 2007

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.

Added on 5/5/07: Someone on 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:


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

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

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)


13 Responses to “Ricki Lake produces “The Business of Being Born””

  1. mod*mom Says:

    your blog button is up on my mother’s day blogroll!

    enter my mother’s day giveaways + spread the word 🙂

  2. Rowan Says:

    What a great documentary. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but it sounds wonderfully empowering. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

    Being a doula with two VERY different personal birth experiences, I’m thrilled to find something “mainstream” that addresses this subject. Thank you, Amy.

  3. LLD Says:

    I watched the View today as well, it sounds like a very interesting documentary.
    We have so many women in this world, but it seems as though issues involving women are over shadowed or not given the proper attention.
    It’s nice to see a documentary that focuses it’s attention on something so relevant.

  4. Heather Says:

    This is the first I’m reading about this, and I’m completely intrigued. I hope I’m reading it right that home birthing is being seriously considered as a birthing alternative?

    My mom had 6 kids, and 4 of the births were at home, so I’m certainly interested:o)

  5. Penny Says:

    Interesting! Hope it has a positive impact.

  6. I’m thrilled for Ricky Lake! I think her documentary is a long time coming and I hope it’s a great success. I was very hard pressed to find the birth I wanted with my two daughters…I did it, but it was hard.
    Thank you for highlighting it today!!

  7. Amy Says:

    Oh what a cool film! This looks extremely interesting and although I’ll likely have to wait to see it on Netflix, I’m certainly intending on seeing it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Amy. The photo on the article is really emotionally intense – what joy!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Erinne Says:

    This should be a very interesting film – it will be neat to see all the different aspects of birth and all the possible options!

    I must admit although I do admire anyone who has the courage to have a home birth – I would never do it… Nor could I have ever done it with either of my children! I guess what I am saying is I view birthing as more of a “potential medical emergency”… because each of my “births” had very serious risks and complications and if we had not been at the hospital neither of my children would be here – nor would I!

    However, this is just my take on it and I think that it is every woman’s right to choose what is best for her and her baby!

  9. Erica Says:

    When I have a baby, I’m absolutely having it at home. Beside any other reason (and I have lots), my younger sister was born in a hospital. The doctor was outside having a smoke as my mother began to deliver, still in the wheelchair in the hall. The nurse ran to get the doc and the doctor arrived just as my sister was crowning, mom still in the wheelchair. As my sister drew her first breath, the doctor PUSHED HER BACK IN, and as a result her first breath was of amniotic fluid. She was born with pneumonia and was in the hospital for weeks. I still don’t understand why my parents never sued. Needless to say, my youngest sister was born at home with a midwife.

  10. Totally awesome!!

    In my ideal world the medical community would be reformed such that we could blend the best parts of home birth and medical prenatal care. Maybe this will make positive steps in that direction!

  11. amygeekgrl Says:

    i’m glad to see so many of you are excited about it too. 🙂

    LLD – amen, sistah!

    heather – yes, that is the premise of the movie. ricki wants women to know that they have choices, and while a hospital birth might be best for some, it doesn’t have to be the only way. even elisabeth on the view said that she had no idea that water births happened in the U.S. she figured there were a few, but never knew it was something she maybe could have had.

    erinne – in some countries and states, midwives are allowed to attend births in hospitals. it is rare where i live in CO, but that’s not the case everywhere. so one might have a midwife-attended birth and receive better (in my opinion anyway) prenatal care, but then still birth in a hospital and have access to technology should the need arise.
    i’m glad that you had satisfying hospital births and received the care you and your babies needed, but i do think that we as women should know that we have other options besides a hospital birth or that we can have a water birth or that we don’t have to lie on our backs (the worst position for birthing) as some doctors require, if that’s what we so choose. 🙂 i think (and hope) that this movie is all about empowering women to make choices that are right for them and their babies.

    erica – that’s awful about your sister. 😦 glad she recovered and that your mom was able to have your other younger sister at home.

    feeedingtime… – i too would love to see midwives welcomed back into hospitals or more birthing centers available, etc. i wish it didn’t have to be one extreme or the other.

  12. […] talked a little bit about Ricki Lake’s new movie, “The Business of Being Born,” as she is interviewed in it. She mentioned that it received a standing ovation at the Tribeca Film […]

  13. crystalj Says:

    There is some video of Ricki Lake talking about her passion about birthing issues. Be patient, it is at the end of the video:

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