Update: Ricki Lake's 'Business of Being Born' comes under fire by AMA

06/18/2008 at 09:00 AM ET

RickilakeUpdate: Ricki has responded to the AMA’s resolution. She tells the Associated Press,

I am pro-choice when it comes to childbirth and choices in birth. Home birth was around long before hospitals were taking over – and I just think women need to know (the information) so that they can make the best choice for them.

Originally posted June 17th: Whether or not there is an actual homebirth movement afoot, it appears as though the American Medical Association (AMA) fears there is.  It recently proposed a resolution which declares that women seeking to deliver at home under the care of a certified professional midwife (CPM) are putting their unborn children at risk, and the AMA is laying the blame for suggestions to the contrary — at least in part — squarely on the shoulders of Ricki Lake.

The 39-year-old actress produced and appeared in The Business of Being Born, a documentary which examines the benefits of homebirth while laying out the disadvantages of delivering in a hospital setting.  “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries,” the resolution notes. It goes on to cite an appearance by Ricki on the Today show where she discussed her homebirth with son Owen Tyler, turning 7 tomorrow, and her decision to include footage of his delivery in the film as further evidence that homebirth is being improperly promoted.

“An apparently uncomplicated pregnancy or delivery can quickly become very complicated,” the AMA warns, “necessitating the need for rigorous standards, appropriate oversight of obstetric providers and the availability of emergency care.”  To that end, the resolution indicates the AMA’s intent to develop model legislation “in support of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex.”

In addition to Owen, Ricki is mom to Milo Sebastian, 11.

Source:  TMZ; Photo by Flynet.

Do you think The Business of Being Born improperly promotes homebirth? (Whether or not you had a homebirth, please remember to be respectful of other women’s birth choices when you post a comment.)

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KellyC on

No, I do not think that her film improperly promotes homebirth. I think that all women have the right to choose where they give birth. I gave birth in a freestanding birth center and was glad to have that option. If I give birth again, I will do so in the privacy of my own home with an experienced midwife. I will transfer to a hospital if she believes that I need to, but I hope that it doesn’t come to that. I would prefer to stay at home. Others may prefer to go to a hospital. Let me make my own choice.

Rachel on

I feel very strongly that having my children at home was the best thing I have done for my new family. In order to have a homebirth, In my experience, most midwives will not agree to assisting a homebirth in a risky pregnancy–and I think sometimes in a hospital, birth is treated as an emergency (sometimes it can be), rather than a completely natural event. I’m sorry this movie is being criticized in such a way, I thought it was rather good.

Michelle on

I think this is an unfortunate move to “own” the childbirth business on the part of the doctors and medical professionals who are a part of the AMA. I did see Business of Being Born and took issue with her attempt to make correlation into causation. That being said, there are many good points that overide the logical flaws in the documentary, and bring reasonable cause to doubt the motivations and study of childbirth by professionals.

There is a need for doctors and for the various procedures that occur outside the natural progression of childbirth as it has been known for thousands of years, but to proceed as if the medical profession is beyond reproach and all-knowing is dangerous and irresponsible. The AMA needs to remember that the track record of medical science is not above reproach – especially in areas of gender & race.

I think the AMA will be impressed by the extent of the protest of this measure by a large cross-section of society who know that 99% of the time a mother will choose the best option for herself & baby, even if that means going through a different sort of trained professional of their own choosing.

Nicole on

I applaud Ricki Lake for bringing another birthing option to the forefront of our culture instead of letting it be written off as being “alternative” or something only “hippies” do. As I have heard before (maybe from this film?), birthing a child does not need to be treated as a medical condition. Women all over the world deliver babies every day in far more dangerous places.

The fact that the AMA basis their argument basically on the “what ifs” of child birth – as in “what if something goes wrong” may be a message that turns a lot of mothers-to-be off. I believe that nearly every mother has an innate sense of what is truly best for her and her baby, which is something we all should honor and respect whether we personally agree with it or not.

Helen Hollis on

I live in Great Britain, I have given birth twice, 1st time I was induced (10 days over), after a long labour ended up in theatre, forceps & alot of stiches..this impacted on my recovery & attachment with my long awaited baby (especially as I had booked a homebirth), it took a few years to get over it. Second time I was 12 days over, had a wonderful homebirth, one 2 one care with an amazing midwife (a 2nd midwife for the last part)… and just a little graze! I was allowed to labour in my own time in my own surroundings & I would choose to do it again & again. From the worldwide research I did, a homebirth is very safe, much less chance of any intervention (and some may say safer). I don’t think homebirth is for everyone, but now we seem to make birth so medical & hard! I put my faith in midwives ( I also work very closely with my local midwives)…..ask them their opinion. I haven’t seen the film yet, but my local health authority did a screening of it to all the health professionals in this area – from all accounts it was applauded!

molly on

I don’t think it is improperly promoting homebirths. For some, it is a great way to give birth if you don’t want medical intervention. I had a scheduled c-section, which was right for me. My son and I would have probably died during a homebirth but for most it is a great option. Women have been giving birth at home for quite a while…of course the AMA would come out against it.

Monica on

I think it’s perfectly okay for woman to give birth at home. It has to be an educated but individual choice. Homebirth is not for everyone but should be available for those who chose to have it. I personally would like to experience that but unfortunately for me, I have a very low tolerance for pain so, I think unless epidurals are available for home births, I won’t be able to do it.

I think Ricki Lake should be applauded for exposing the possibility of homebirths for women. It allows women to see what is involved and what it could be like and then make an informed decision from there. I don’t think she is promoting it carelessly because I have watched interviews she has done on this subject and she has said that it isn’t for everyone and that she decided to make that choice for herself. She just wants to show people that it is possible to give birth outside of the hospital enviornment.

Stef on

Rachel–I agree with what you say, but I do disagree with people labeling a pregnancy or childbirth as “natural.” The meaning attached to that word implies that it will progress without problems. There is a reason that pregnant women have to take extra precautions with things regarding their bodies–lifting, medications, strenuous work, etc.–because it is a medical condition. If it were “natural,” it would not have to be noted on a medical chart or be screened out if someone were seeking medical treatment. The same applies to childbirth. It is a dramatic medical event.

Re: the question of homebirth in general–if a woman chooses to have a child at home, that is completely her prerogative and I can see how it can be advantageous for some women’s situations, especially women who want to avoid overzealous hospital procedures. However, I disagree completely with those who would undermine the seriousness of the childbirth process and imply that everyone’s goes off without a hitch, therefore any sort of medical intervention should be disregarded. Childbirth is not “natural” in the sense that it is an everyday occurance. It can be life-or-death for some women and their children and to give birth away from a qualified doctor and medical equipment should be SERIOUSLY thought over, and not be a decision made out of uninformed paranoia. If a woman feels that she has no control over her birth and child if she is in a hospital, she can write a out a birth plan beforehand which is a legally binding document that the doctors are required to follow. I also think that the homebirth industry should be more strictly regulated–midwives should be certified and trained and should follow a standard of procedures regarding their patients/clients–similar to what nurses would have to do, since their work involves the safety of others, especially children.

Sasha on

No, in answer to the question, because so many women have had terrible hospital births that they are much more inclined to give birth at home. However, as the AMA says, if a sudden potential emergency arises, such as a nuchal cord, shoulder dystocia, loss of fetal heartbeat, or difficult presentation, the response time in a hospital is potentially faster than the response time at home (this was confirmed by the extremely experienced midwife who spoke after my local showing of TBOBB – the only baby she ever lost was due to a cord compression). Of course, not every emergency can be corrected in the hospital anyway, and the routine birth interventions ie, the Epidural/pitocin cascade which the movie shows leading to many C-sections, in the hospital, certainly add potential complications as well. The bottom line is that it is definitely a woman’s personal decision. The AMA is saying TBOBB is irresponsible because the legal status (as well as rigor of training/experience) of midwives varies from state to state, plus whether they have malpractice insurance in place (not because they are a risky pool to insure, because they are so few midwives out there that the relative costs for insurers are so high). TBOBB moved me very deeply. I’m really glad you guys decided to address this topic! Wishing everyone a nice day and looking forward to a good discussion.

Beverley on

Having had 2 normal pregnancies conclude with 2 complicated births, I would never have a birth anywhere but a hospital.

My son would be dead if not for the fact that a NICU team was in my room reviving him within a minute of coming out of me.

The fact is, no one can tell exactly what is going on inside at all times, and babies turn, twist, get tied up in their cords, and all kinds of other things that neither doctor or midwife can see happening inside you. In my opinion, what happened to me with my son would still have happened wherever I gave birth, but being in a hospital where he got immediate emergency attention is the only reason he is still around and about to finish 2nd grade.

Dana on

I think the fact that Ricki Lake is under fire is completely ridiculous. I personally do not believe in home birth. I would have lost my first daughter if I had not delivered at a hospital, due to unforeseen circumstances. Yet I feel that every woman has the right to deliver in the setting she sees fit. I do not think that the AMA should dictate how a woman should give birth, seeing as thousands of years of labor have taken place without parameters of a doctor’s association.

Mollie on

I saw this movie and really loved it, it was interesting and thought provoking! Yes it was critical of the medical model of birth, but we can’t just sit around and be told what to do by doctors who may or may not have our best interests at heart– it’s so important always be examining and doing our own research! (And just for the record, I personally had a typical hospital pitocin/epidural birth, and it was awesome!)
It is so silly that the AMA suggests that home birth puts children at risk. Midwives are very careful about the clients they take on, and are happy to send a risky patient to an OB. That’s the way it should be, in my opinion. Mothers as well are very cautious when it comes to their pregnancies and births, and if she believes there’s a risk, she WON’T take it! It’s really quite insulting that the AMA doesn’t think us normal people are capable of making decisions.

Candice on

No, I don’t believe that it improperly promotes homebirth. But then again, you couldn’t pay me to give birth in a hospital. I thought The Business of Being Born was a pretty damn spectacular documentary and I adore Ricki for bringing midwifery and homebirth to the public’s attention (and that says a lot, because she normally annoys the snot out of me).

Every woman should have the right to choose. Whether a woman wants an elective cesarean section or a homebirth, their decision deserves respect.

Veronica on

Six of the grandkids in my family have been born at home by CPM, including my daughter. It was a wonderful experience having my daughter in the comfort of my home. I think the AMA’s attack on homebirths is simply their way of deterring people form a practice that has grown in popularity and therefore taken potential patients away from the Western medicine establishment. What they have to remember is that women were birthing their children at home long before there were ever hospitals and clinics. I think hospitals should be a last resort for those in high risk groups. And I applaud Ricki for bringing the beauty of natural birth to the popular forum.

Beverley on

I forgot to say that Ricki Lake is only giving her opinion about one way to go about childbirth. Women should know about all their options and research all of them before making their decisions. I don’t think women will blindly follow what Ricki is saying, just like no one should be looking at Jenny McCarthy as the all-knowing authority on autism. Both of these women are stating their opinions, but it is each of our responsibilities to know the acts, and pick our own method for childbirth.

Gingi on

Homebirth is not for me. However, I respect a woman’s right to chose how and where she births and the risks and rewards that come with that choice. My issue with the TBoBB is that much of the statistical evidence presented in favor of homebirth was not sourced. As a consumer, I want to KNOW where my information is coming from and the film lost a lot of credibility for me when that information was not provided.

tink1217 on

I don’t begrudge any woman in her right to choose how and where to give birth. Both my pregnancies were very good, uncomplicated and very normal. However, my first birth did go as planned and if not for the fact that I was in a hospital my baby would have died. I took no chances with the 2nd and elected another c-section. So…very normal pregnancies can have very abnormal birth experiences. I would never want to be anywhere but in a hospital with support staff standing by just in case!

Michelle on

I think it was the sitcom Dharma & Greg where Dharma’s hippie mom said the groery clerk was in labor. Greg said “let’s go to the hospital” and the mom said “Why? She’s not sick.”

sara on

What a shame. Some women are going to read what they write and hear what they say and take this to heart. They are going to think that since the AMA said it, it must be true.

Giving birth at home is just as safe, if not safer than in a hospital. In a hospital if you labor too long they want to use pitocin, which then usually leads to an epidural which in turn slows labor and they want to crank more pitocin. With the epidural you are stuck in bed and can’t Try diff. positions to help get the baby down. Then the docs and nurses say that you aren’t progressing or even that the baby must be too big for your pelvis which is why baby isn’t coming down. They Cite how long you’ve been in labor for and tell you it’s safer to have a c-section…. How many of that same story have you heard?

Homebirths are wonderful and I hope more women educate themselves about them!

Candy on

It comes as no surprize that the AMA has formalized their stance against homebirth with this position statement. As throughout the history of childbirth demonstrates… the medical establishment is all about maintaining power and the control of the money. By promotion of options and choices for women, Ricki Lake has become the latest target for the AMA, as midwives have been for quite awhile. I have seen the film, and thought that there were many well researched facts brought up that show that a low risk, healthy woman can have a safe out of hospital birth without the multitudes of interventions experienced in a hospital setting. GO RICKI!

Gabrielle on

I think “The Business of Being Born” (a movie I went to see at a premier in Orlando, Fl.) shows the benefits of homebirth in comparison with the skyrocketing use of elective C-Sections.

At the end of the film, the assistant director ends up going to the hospital for her birth because her son is breech. While SOME Midwives will deliver a breech baby, it does come down to the confidence of the mother. So, I think that it shows that a pregnancy that has been safe is a good candidate for homebirth. They are also a good candidate for a low-intervention hospital birth.

Rachel on

I think it the most important thing this movie has done (hopefully) is bring awareness to the birth options…as there are quite few out there.

Steph, thank you for your very comprehensive definition of “natural”. Perhaps I should have been more clear. Women can and have been having babies safely at home without medical intervention–an uncomplicated birth need not be treated as trauma.

nicnic on

I thought the documentary was amazing, and I thought it was going to be alot more home birth propaganda than it was. Her partner in the filming ended up at the hospital with a C-section. She obviously wasn’t saying everyone can/should have a birth at home.

I had a natural childbirth with a midwife in a hospital and I was very comfortable with the setting I chose, I am however offended that the AMA does not think that women are capable of making that decision.

Also (stef), midwives are not random women wanting to help out with childbirth. They are Nurses with Masters degree’s with specific and exclusive training to the birthing process (not like MD’s that have broad training in a variety of OB specialies).

Gabrielle on

I think “The Business of Being Born” (a movie I went to see at a premier in Orlando, Fl.) shows the benefits of homebirth in comparison with the skyrocketing use of elective C-Sections.

At the end of the film, the assistant director ends up going to the hospital for her birth because her son is breech. While SOME Midwives will deliver a breech baby, it does come down to the confidence of the mother. So, I think that it shows that a pregnancy that has been safe is a good candidate for homebirth. They are also a good candidate for a low-intervention hospital birth.

Liz on

I am a Labor and Delivery nurse in Manhattan and I can tell you that the movie was 100% accurate about what its like to give birth in a hospital. As soon as you hit the door, you are going to do what the doctor says whether you want to or not, they will ask you and guilt trip you until you sign the consent form. We crank the pitocin give the epidurals and then run back for c-sections some justified some unjustified. Not all doctors are like this, I like many of the Doctors I work with especially the younger ones, many are very progressive and I would highly recommend them to friends who want a hospital birth. However over all, I would personally be more afraid of having my child in the hospital than in my home if my pregnancy was healthy.
This movie was very honest, I thought before watching it would be biased however I was so presently surprised with how accurate it was.
People need to be more educated about hospital birth because what your doctor tells you and what the AMA say are different than what actually happens

Luciana on

I think it’s very unfortunate that the AMA decides to target homebirth as unsafe, while the c-section rates continue to rise in this country, with celebrities advertising their elective 37-week c-sections in the same magazines that Ricki appears on. Shame on the AMA for not respecting women’s choices of where they choose to deliver their babies. My next child will for sure be a homebirth…

atomik_momma on

funny how it’s totally safe for the rest of the world, but you cross an ocean and women are suddenly these faulty machines at constant risk of breaking down. *rolls eyes* freaking AMA. they’re a trade organization. of course they are going to protect their business interests. i love how when the AMA or ACOG comes out with these statements they never include research to back up what they are saying.

women should have the right to make informed choices about what is best for them and their baby.

lucia on

I’m another from the UK and in my local area the hospital is a 30 minute drive on a good day, in traffic you are looking at an hour. I’ve got 9 children and only for the first one did I go to hospital, it was a nightmare of overworked midwives and me not knowing what was happening. Since then my labours have been between 12 and 60 minutes so a home birth attended by midwives or ambulance staff! has been the only way to go. I do appreciate how lucky I have been that all my deliveries have gone without a hitch, but it worries me that by promoting hospital deliveries we are loosing the skills that have enabled me to be safely delivered at home.
It is surely every woman’s right to choose where she feels happiest and safest to give birth, but to offer that choice we need to have well qualified midwives who are available in sufficient numbers to spend enough time with mothers before delivery to check for and pick up on any problems.
Take care.

Christine on

I thought it was a fantastic documentary, and thoughtfully done. It finally brings to light another birthing option that should be available to women.

Of course the AMA is going to protest a “home-birthing movement”! It means their doctors and hospitals are loosing money.

Hilary on

If a woman wants to have a home birth — then so be it. However for me a midwife, however experienced, does not equal doctor (usually doctors that have ‘board training’ that actually do deliveries deliver hundreds of babies a year which would, in my mind, prove to be a lot of experience. Also, doctors are also knowledgeable of other areas of medicine that can predict issues arising that a midwife could not). My mom is a family practice doctor (and to a previous poster, she has lots more training than just ‘broad training’ and delivers about 75 babies per year) and there are even normal births that at the last minute an OB/GYN has to be called in to save the life of the mother and/or child. This would be a bit more complicated as an OB/GYN isn’t necessarily on-call in someone’s home. Even if I wanted to have a home birth, I would never be able to live with myself if there was a complication that would impact my child at home which would not in a hospital.

Christine on

Stef- “If a woman feels that she has no control over her birth and child if she is in a hospital, she can write a out a birth plan beforehand which is a legally binding document that the doctors are required to follow.”

Actually, no, a birthplan is not a legal binding document. A consent form is legally required for most interventions, so if a mother is against certain things, she can refuse to sign the consent form. But the birthplan is just a mother’s preferences.

Sasha on

Well, Ricki’s assistant director quite suddenly went into labor 4 weeks before her due date so I think that also played a role in her having a c-secton. Her son was in the NICU for a long time – in the movie this unexpectedly showed the exact scenario where medical intervention was lifesaving for a child.

Also, the AMA statement refers to the 21 states which license non-CNM midwives – who do NOT necessarily have the same Master’s degrees in nursing and training that CNMs have, nor do they necessarily carry pitocin (to stop maternal hemorrhage) and/or oxygen (to resuscitate a baby, which is common) to a birth.

I think a KEY advantage to having a midwife is the individual and thorough partnership with the expectant mother.

Sally on

I don’t believe giving birth at home is safer than a hospital. You can opt out of taking drugs at a hospital.

Jennifer Gallardo on

I am a midwife and my biased opinion of The Business of Being Born is that it properly promotes out of hospital birth. YES emergencies can and do happen during births. Midwives are trained to deal with these emergencies. I find it presumptuous of the AMA to think that emergencies can only be dealt with properly in the hospital. I would argue that some emergencies are dealt with better out of hospital with a mother who is not on drugs (such as in the case of a shoulder dystocia, where a mom without an epidural can change positions and help the midwife get a stuck baby out). I have attended over 800 births and have dealt with many hemorrhages, baby resuscitation’s, and shoulder dystocia’s. We carry oxygen, resuscitation equipment, IV fluids, and hemorrhagic medications to all births. Studies stand behind the safety of out of hospital birth. I stand behind a woman’s choice to birth where she wants, whether in hospital or out. I wish the AMA would show the same respect. I am grateful that Ricki has spoken out on this topic. Warmly, Jennifer Gallardo

Erica on

I would never have a baby at home, but I loved Ricki’s documentary and thought it did an excellent job of debunking a lot of the myths and half-truths regarding homebirth. I found it empowering to all women, regardless of their decision of where and how to give birth, because it highlighted how advantageous home birth can be for good candidates.

I partially agree with the poster upthread who felt this was the AMA’s way of deterring homebirth so as not to lose revenue from hospital births; but I also think the AMA is genuinely concerned with people who may believe that natural home births are *always* the best option. My mother would’ve been an excellent candidate for a homebirth with her third child: she was healthy, young (29 years old), and had an uncomplicated fairly easy pregnancy.

That said, by the time she had begun pushing my brother’s heart rate plummeted even though she herself felt fine. Had she not been in a hospital where they could perform a cesarean within minutes of the heart monitor alarm, my brother definitely would’ve died or at least had severe brain damage. Of course this scenario doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen enough even with the healthiest of potential moms. It’s also the reason why I could never consider having a baby at home–though I 100% support every woman’s right to make that choice for herself and her family.

Hannah on

No!!! My two hospital births were traumatic and painful. My other two out-of-hospital births were beautiful and memorable. The difference between a doctor and a midwife! The hospital caused a chaotic scene with a dozen uncaring strangers all around me, turning the births into medical events. The midwives gave us beautiful experiences, with family and familiar faces, framing the wonderful, miraculous event that birthing should be.

@ndie on

i think birth is to do with the confidence & trust in yourself,your midwife and/or doctors if you deliver at home or in a hospital environment.
having had 5 children,1st an emergency section due to distress of my baby,2,3 & 4 in hospital vaginally with an epidural(only had epidural in case i had a section again and giving birth hurts!!) and number 5 i was induced at 42 weeks and got away with using gas & air in the last 10 minutes before birth!
if i was to have baby number 6 then i know & feel confident to trust my body to at least try a home birth but also have trust and confidence in my midwife to advise me to go to hospital if needs be…….

anna on

I fully agree with the AMA. Women need to remember that before there were hospitals and proper medical care, women would actually die from child birth. Something to think about. Ricki was lucky to have a successful home birth. I think many women would not be able to have one.

Stef on

nicnic–I know of a few women who have made a practice performing homebirths without any sort of certification and with very little training, with just some apprenticeship and books under their belts. Since none have been dragged off to jail, I assume doing so is legal.

Rachel–That’s true. Also true is that healthy women can and have been dying in childbirth and shortly after for centuries.

zaraB on

I applaud Ricki Lake for bringing this issue to public attention, and it’s obviously making a difference, for the AMA to release such a statement. I guess they’re scared of losing potential ‘customers’ to the homebirth movement.

I thought it was good that the documentary included Abby Epstein’s birth, which ended with a caesarian, because it showed that the midwife did allow enough time for Abby to transfer to hospital, though of course many women do deliver breech babies naturally. I think a lot of people assume that a homebirth midwife rocks up with a pile of hot towels, when in fact they bring with them oxygen, syntocin (pitocin), resuscitation equipment etc., so they are fully prepared for emergencies.

I find it interesting that on the odd occasion you do hear of a baby dying during a homebirth, the homebirth is always blamed, whereas babies die every day in hospitals around the world, and very rarely do you hear people questioning the level of medical care, rather it’s usually put down to ‘one of those sad things’.

I have undertaken countless hours of my own research on this topic, and believe strongly that a homebirth under the guidance of an experienced midwife is as safe, if not safer than a hospital birth.

I live in Australia, and the situation here is just as dire as it is in the States. Less than 1% of all births are homebirths, and our caesarian rate is close to 30% (some private hospitals in Australia deliver 80% of babies by caesarian). Homebirths are almost as expensive as a private hospital birth with an obstetrician, the difference being that homebirth fees aren’t claimable through our public or private health insurance. Meanwhile, homebirth is accepted as a legitimate choice across the water in New Zealand.

I really hope more women do start to see homebirth as a legitimate option, and our governments start offering real support for this option.

SewCalMom on

That is *OUTRAGEOUS!* I hate that the Mainstream Medical community considers pregnancy a ‘condition’ or an ‘illness.’ It IS Natural, it is Normal. Sure, things can happen, but I’d like to see a study on how often something goes wrong in a homebirth or birthing center birth VS a hospital birth. How often do women have ‘unforeseen’ complications in a HOSPITAL birth. How often does a doctor suddenly feel that you need interference X,Y or Z to meet their timetable?
Stef, that is my whole point. I disagree that it NEEDS to be ‘noted in a chart’ like a condition. It is NATURAL. Natural doesn’t mean something can or won’t “go wrong,” but it’s also not some illness that *everyone* *needs* people interfering with. And yes, it is an EVERYDAY occurence. A woman needs to do what she thinks and feels is best. How would you feel if a hospital suddenly locked it’s doors and said, “Nope, sorry. Childbirth is no longer allowed in a hospital,” and suddenly you no longer had what you think is the best choice available?

I had a typical hospital birth and a birthing center waterbirth. Hands-down the birthing center was the best for US.

Kate on

I saw TBOBB. Entertaining yeah, but it wasn’t a documentary, and that is my problem with it because it was presented that way. When someone presents information as fact and fails to provide documentation of said facts or fails to show something as important as causation vs. correlation, I have a problem with it. And I can see why the AMA do too. Just like some people may read what the medical establishment has to say and simply believe it, there are also people who will watch a movie with little to no research base behind it and believe it just as easily.

People should research things on their own, read resarch studies (they are pretty easy to find on the net or your local library) and make an informed choice. That is another thing that bothered me about the movie and in great part, what bothers me about the homebirth movement. If you have the information you need and make an informed and educated choice to have a homebirth, that’s fantastic. But sometimes the homebirth movement seems to make it out that a woman can not be both informed and educated and yet still choose a hospital.

I also agree with Stef regarding creating some sort of standard for midwives during the homebirth process. There is some inherent risk involved in the homebirth process (separate from the risks inherent in the birthng process) because laws vary from state to state and not every midwife is qualified to attend a birth. I know that my OB has been doing this for over 20 years and he is held up to a standard by the state I live in. Every midwife nd homebirth should be following some sort of standard protocol and midwives should all be credentialed and qualified, which they aren’t in every state (sorry nicnic).

It also is concerning to me when women say they would have to be paid to give birth in a hospital. That assumes that every birth and every labor is created equal and they all have the same end happy result. Even non-medicated vaginal births can result in dead or dying babies. If you’re not willing to see a different way or accept that it doesn’t always go perfectly, then you put your child at much greater risk than any hospital setting would.

Becky on

Of course the AMA is squawking. Did we think they wouldn’t say anything? They lose tons and tons of money for every woman who births at home or in a birthing center. I have always said give me drugs! My sister even had me be in her room as she had a home birth with her daughter to convince me it isn’t so bad and I still said no way…but I watched the movie (you can watch it on your computer on Netflix, it is…or was, one of the movies you can watch online, FYI) and LOVED it! It was great! I can honestly say for the first time ever, I am thinking about it. She did a very good job of doing exactly what a documentary is supposed to do….show a side of something and bring light to it. I think everyone should see it, no matter what they think. It was a great great movie!

BlondeBlogger on

I was one of those who had an “apparently uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery.” My baby was born in the hospital by a midwife. Shortly after she was born, I began hemorraghing and needed emergency, life-saving surgery. Had I not been in the hospital, I might not be alive today.

I think home birth is a beautiful thing and have many friends who have done it. I am just fearful for women who find themselves in the situation I was in. It can happen when you least expect it.

Courtney on

This discussion is exactly my perspective of the intended outcome of Ricki’s film.

No matter what one’s perspective, it is time to get our thinking caps back on and realize where decision making is coming from and why it is being done as it is.

It’s time to: Ask questions. Consider all options. Research the facts. Wonder aloud with other women. Realize birth happens every day in every country and has since the beginning of time. Why is it so different in America?

Check out Birth by Tina Cassidy for a social perspective over time. Talk to your mom and your grandma about giving birth. You’ll be surprised how much has changed, and yet how much has not!

Sasha on

zaraB, I’m glad you brought up Abby Epstein’s transfer to the hospital, because I (a lay person) felt that for a first time mother whose water has broken and is 5-6 cm dialated 1 month before her due date, the midwife should have acted to get Abby to the hospital pronto, not left her at her apartment. This was one of my 2 “issues” with the movie.

The other one was Ricki asking Abby if Abby was “disappointed” by having the c-section and subsequent breastfeeding difficulties due to her son being in the NICU. That I felt was insensitive given the seriousness of her son’s prematurity!

It speaks to my inner conflict between wanting the amazing entry to the world for my child and not wanting the amazing birth-gone awry.

Alice on

I have not seen the film yet (I’m waiting for it on Netflix!) but I believe the homebirth vs. hospital birth “debate” is solely up to the mother. Each to their own, and each person has individual levels of comfort. I gave birth to both my children (2004 & 2007) in a hospital because I felt that it was the safest option for me, I was too deathly scared of the “what ifs”. I am glad that I had chosen to go the hospital route the 2nd time around because my son came out tangled in his cord and half blue. My best friend had both of her children at home with a midwife the first time and second completely unassisted. Her births went smoothly and problem free, luckily.

I have several friends who have chosen one way or the other, and in the end, isn’t the only thing that truly matters is that the baby and mother are healthy?
It’s not a matter of someone telling me what is right or wrong, it’s what I myself am comfortable with, I chose to birth in a hospital setting, but still managed to get what I wanted, a drug free birth and my son is a healthy and happy little 16 month old.

People just need to do their own research and find what will work for them. I was more comfortable in a hospital setting, it put me more at ease, and if we were to have a third, I would again go with a hospital birth.

Abbey on

hmmm . . . where did women give birth before hospitals?

Women should have the right to give birth at home or at hospital. I think, though, women should educate themselves as much as possible about both experiences. I don’t think one should make a decision based on Ricki Lake’s movie (honestly, I hate to think anyone would base such a magnificent experience on a movie), but read books and find a midwife with lots of experience and references.

Amy on

I don’t think TBOBB overly promoted homebirths. I felt like it focused on the fact that they can be very safe and intimate and a positive experience for women. I think it also helped shed some light on doctors who really are turning birthing into a business (i.e. scheduling births to be convenient with their schedules, performing c-sections so they can get home at a decent time, and pumping women full of pitocin to speed things up).

I am due with my second child in October and I will be delivering in a hospital. The main thing I took away from the movie is that we as women need to take our labor into our own hands and make our own decisions when possible. We have the right to refuse certain interventions! I also truly believe that your OB is key. I am in love with mine. She has 5 kids of her own with 1 set of twins that she birthed vaginally. She is a warrior princess in my eyes and I truly felt she had my best interest at heart. She let me push for 4 hours without ever trying to use forceps or a vacuum and was the best cheerleader ever telling me that she knew I could do it on my own. We as women have a lot of control, and we need to take it!

Caroline on

I absolutely agree with Kate at 7:45. I think homebirth is a completely valid option and probaby even the better option for *some* women. However I thought this movie was very poorly presented, shockingly biased and sophmoric.

I am very glad to live in a place where I have instant access to doctors and nurses if I am in an emergency – I am very, very happy with my OB and grateful for her expertise.

Lets not discount that many women die in childbirth every day – it is still a potentially life-threatening situation for some women.

Both sides have their valid arguments however I think this film is not well-researched enough to be considered a primary source “documentary”.

Cara on

Unbelievable. But also not a surprise that the AMA has taken such a “stance”. Only 1% of women give birth at home- it is not like the movie is going to make that number skyrocket (though I wish it would). And clearly, the committee at the AMA has not seen this movie- the movie is not saying “everyone have a homebirth!” for chrissakes. It is looking at the current culture of birth in America and a cesarean rate that is off the charts, the rampant use of induction for non-medical reasons and the resulting impact on women giving birth.

As a maternal child nurse who has worked at a hospital for 8 years, I can (like the other RN poster) tell you that the info in the movie is spot on. And a 30% c-section rate? HA! Wait until the next set of statistics comes out. It will be much higher than that. It was close to 88% when I worked my job the other day (21 of 24 births were c/sections) and it is consistently over 50%.

It is very clear that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about certified professional midwives or certified midwives and homebirth. CPM/CMs are licensed, have to meet professional standards and certain education requirements, and keep up their licensure through on-going training. They are required to know how to resuscitate a newborn in the home setting and carry medications that can assist them with other emergencies like postpartum hemorrhage.

A well-done, recent research study showed that homebirth with a CM or CPM is AS SAFE as hospital birth for normal, low-risk pregnancies with similar outcomes for moms and babies except that there was a LOWER rate of medical intervention in the homebirthers. So, why isn’t the AMA looking at this study?

I chose to homebirth my two babies at home. I have been called “brave”, “crazy” and other not so nice things but really, for me, I would have been crazy to be in the hospital and MORE scared for my health being there. I was in the best hands with my CMs becuase I had healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies and was a perfect candidate for homebirth. Both were successful and uneventful in the medical sense but had their been a complication, my midwives would have known exactly what to do and being less than 5 minutes from a hospital, I was not concerned about my safety or my baby’s safety in the slightest. If there would have been risk factors that developed during my pregnancies that would have required medical intervention I absolutely would have gone to the hospital.

The message of the film was not “everyone should have a homebirth”. IF that is what anyone took away from it, then we did not see the same film at all. The film was about a culture and a medical system that is truly failing women and babies with regards to pregnancy and childbirth.

Yolanda on

Ummm…did the AMA actually view the entire film, or just a few clips? Because if you watch the entire movie, there is an urgent birth that results in a surgical delivery by cesarian. It is presented along with two women delivering at home and another in a birthing center. There is not an over-promotion of home birth versus other birthing options. Rather, unlike the AMA, the film seeks to present birthing options. It explains why most American women are only familiar with the Pitocin-augmented-epidural-assisted-24-hour-time-clock birth, and what the potential negative outcomes of that formulaic birth process.

I am passionate about women understanding al of their options in birthing. I had an unmedicated delivery using the Bradley Method, but I also suffered near fatal complications. Delivering in the hospital with a surgeon nearby was critical for me. But that doesn’t mean a home birth shouldn’t be an option for other women. Or that the only way we should promote birth in this country is the current, heavily augmented status quo.

Rachel on

I know that apparently healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies have been dying in childbirth for centuries…and continue to do so at the hospital as well as at home. I hemorrhaged shortly after a uneventful (besides the baby!) homebirth and the midwives handled it quite abley. That said, my birth, my choice–any which way it happens it should be without judgement, Stef, it is your child’s birthday!

ohritz on

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but would like to as I am considering a career as a midwife or L&D nurse.

I personally had my son in the hospital and I will have my next child in the hospital, but I also have clotting issues that need to be monitored and most likely will have a c-section with the next child. That being said, I don’t think that the hospital is right for everyone. I think people should have the right to choose and they do, but I do think research should be done on both ends to discover what is best for each individual person.

Melody on

I would gladly give birth at the hospital with an OB IF and ONLY IF they treated me with the respect, tender care, and professionalism with which my midwives have treated me. I have had two hospital births and one home birth. They all had pros and cons. Home birth is not for everyone just as hospital birth is not for everyone. If the AMA really respected women, they would legislate to change the hospital system, NOT the home birth scene.

Ilaria on

Only in the U.S…..where insurance is big money and health care a huge business! Of course they don’t want to lose any paying clients… In many countries in Europe, a low-risk, no complication pregnancy results in a homebirth, as it should be.

Mousie on

The AMA has a legitimate point. You’re hearing only about the happy home births.

When a home birth goes wrong, and they go to the hospital, who do you think has to take over and handle whatever complication is happening? The DOCTORs. Guess who gets sued then if it doesn’t work out happily due to the complications that they were not involved in from the beginning?

Of course the midwives look like they have a huge success rate – they don’t finish the cases that have a bad outcome because they’ve dumped it on the doctors and hospitals.

So have your home birth, but are you willing to stay committed to it and accept whatever
result you get – at home ?

Of course not – you want the hospital for the safety zone to “fix” whatever isn’t going well.

Hospital C-section rates are high because – surprise – that’s where complicated cases end up.

Marsha Lyn on

I don’t think that the AMA has any right to try and tell women how to deliver their babies. Someone on here said if a woman wants to control the delivery, then all she needs to do is create a birth plan, but that’s not necessarily true because it can change at any point thus it being called a birth PLAN. It may be legally binding, but the doctors and nurses can press you to do something and for some women, they may feel pressured and break under it whether or not they agree with the doctors/nurses and even want whatever it is to happen. I know for myself, I hate hospitals and can become very stressed when I’m forced to be in them – just be in them – so being in one could be more stressful for me than the actual labour. I want to have my kids at home where I know the environment and where I’m not going to be stressed out from being in a hospital and the whole hospital environment.

Memarie Lane on

Hospital births have been improperly promoted for years. If they’re afraid it’s because there’s so much in this film that shows how hospitals fail the women that trust them blindly. That blind trust is their bread and butter.

Rachel on

Kudos Cara!

Memarie Lane on

BTW I’ve given birth both ways. The hospital birth left me laid up for weeks and my son lethargic and sick. I walked away from the unmedicated water birth as though I’d merely visited the toilet, and my daughter was hardy and alert. I’ll never birth in a hospital again or recommend it to anyone with a low risk pregnancy.

Elle on

Anna @ 7:17:

I suggest that you look at the birth rates for other countries- yes, industrialized- and compare them to those of the United States. I’ll give you an example.

Recent statistics show that 34% of births in the Netherlands were homebirths (in 2002), compared with under 1% of births in the US (in 2004). Cesarean sections were at a rate of 13.5% in the Netherlands (2002) compared with 30.2% in the US (in 2005).

The infant mortality rate in 2007 for the Netherlands was 5 per 1,000, compared to 6 per 1,000 in the US. The maternal mortality rate in 2004 for the Netherlands was 7 per 100,000 compared to 8 per 100,000 for the US.

So, let me put this in plain English- a country with over 1/3 of its babies born at home with midwife care has lower infant mortality, maternal mortality, and Cesarean section rates than a country with over 99% of its babies born in a hospital, most with doctor/OB-GYN care.

How can you say that homebirth is not safe and that women belong birthing in hospitals when you look at those statistics?!

(Information and citations found in Mothering Magazine’s September-October 2007 issue, page 68.)

For what it is worth, I gave birth to my son with a CNM (Certified Nurse-Midwife) in a hospital birthing center at 19. I wish I had chosen a homebirth instead, and will certainly choose a homebirth for my future children.

Danielle on

I was watching one of those Discovery Health birth shows yesterday that was dedicated to home births or midwife-accompanied drug-free births (rare, since it seems like all of the births they show result in c-sections) and it was very inspiring and made me want to try natural next time around (if there is a next time). However, I have such a low pain threshold that I know I will want the option of the epidural again. For that reason, I need to give birth in a hospital, but I loathe that births need to take place there. Hospitals are for sick people. I wish there were more medically supported birthing centers so women could give birth in an environment that doesn’t push medication but provides them with the support if something goes wrong. Next time around, I’ll look for a birthing center connected to a hospital. No way am I giving birth on my back again.

Nichol on

I have 6 words for the AMA. MY body, MY birth, MY CHOICE!!
Stay out of it.
Ok so that was 10.

Des on

I’ve had both births. Hospital birth and a home waterbirth. The reason I even had complications the first time was because of being in the hospital. LOL Induction, cytotec, pit, 2 epidurals cause they goofed up the first one, episiotomy, being stuck to the bed with cuffs, tubes…never again! My homebirth was a breeze compared to that. Around here, the inducing pushing movement is ridiculous, why doesnt that AMA go against that?! That’s far more risky than any midwife attended homebirth IMO.

Sally on

Elle: I think comparing a relatively homogeneous country of 16 million people to a hetrogeneous country of 300 million people is a little skewed.

Kim on

My baby was delivered by a midwife and so will all my next children. A homebirth was not for me, though. I wanted to be in hospital in case of complications during my daughter’s birth. Thankfully, in my city, midwives have full hospital privileges. That meant no waiting to be admitted, and being able to leave the hospital as soon as I felt ready (in my case, it was 12 hours). My midwife took care of me and answered my pages for the next 6 weeks, which is more than a doctor would have done, I daresay.

I wouldn’t have a homebirth, but I think that belittling the midwifery profession is wrong and unjustified.

JanScholl on

30 years ago I decided after being treated as if I were ill while giving birth 3 times,that if I could not have my next child in a neutral situation, I was not going to have any more. And I didn’t. Because a midwife was 1 hour away and I tended to have my babies very fast, it was not something that would work for us. It is about choice and if you have no risk factors and yet have close proximity to an open minded doctor and hosptital, go for it. I checked myself out of the hospital with my last baby-we were fine and I went home and went about our business. Choice-give people better choices instead of feeding the machine. The only thing that I got back then was a totally drug free birth-now they plug you in without any second thoughts as to what is harming mom and baby because it’s convenient for the hospitals and very lucrative too.

Suzie on

I wonder why this is an issue at all.

Haven’t women given birth at home since the beginning of time?

MB on

The AMA is in the business of looking out for themselves. They used to oppose insurance, because it meant doctors might not get paid as much. Take anything they say with a grain of salt. There are other, more reputable (IMO) doctor/medical organizations out there. We discussed the AMA fairly extensively in my health policy class and they seem to be pretty outdated and have a history of opposing things that are overall good for public health if those movements might mean doctors make less money or have less autonomy.

As I think some have mentioned before, the midwife associations do not do home births with high-risk pregnancies. This does skew some of the statistics. While I would love to do a home water birth, my status as a high-risk pregnancy means I will be delivering in a hospital. That is OK with me because I know that’s where I and my baby will be safest, due to my situation.

I applaud women who do home births, and any woman who has ever given birth, no matter what route she chose. I think as long as you carefully consider your options and your situations, go for whatever you want. Labor can be risky any way you go about it and you can only prepare and hope for the best.

crystal on

I had my first child in the hospital and my last two were home waterbirths with midwives. I believe there are risks with everything and it is just what I feel is a safer environment for me and my babies. my 3rd was a surprise and I considered a hospital birth because it would be free.a homebirth would be $4,000.00 I took a tour and I just couldn’t do it. Knowing what I know now, it just seemed too risky to have a baby in the hospital. MY personal experience with both is that there is no comparison. I am so grateful that Ricki made the movie because now so many more women and babies can have better experiences.

Kristen on

Well since I publish and run a website with “natural birth” in the title, I obviously think birth is very natural. I think the fact that it’s made into something medical with charts etc, etc gives women the impression that it’s something scary and something that needs to be “managed.”

There is a time and a place for medical assistance in a birth. There’s a time and a place for medical assistance when someone is taking a run and tears a ligament. But nobody is going to say running “isn’t natural” just because the runner may keep charts of her heart rate and may possibly one day tear a ligament.

Anyways. I think the movie was a good one and one that women need to see. The AMA’s stance is ridiculous and them attacking Riki is ridiculous.

What’s even worse is the veil of silence that has been cast over the maternal deaths (and baby deaths) that occur in American hospitals.

American mothers are dying. In the hospital. And while the AMA is out attacking home birthers they’re doing NOTHING to help us realize why so many mothers are dying…right in our own hospitals. It’s ridiculous and it’s a scandal.

In the UK there are detailed studies and reports made available to the public about why and how mothers are dying related to childbirth.

But here, in the US, mothers are dying and all the AMA can say is “Don’t give birth at home! Go to the hosptial.” and there, if you die, they’ll just cleverly cover it up and it won’t get recorded, and the CDC won’t report it, and nobody will see a news story about that. We’ll all be watching how dangerous home birth is.

That’s the reality in America. They care so much about the danger of home birth and they turn a blind eye to how modern maternity care is failing mothers. And babies.

I wrote a blog entry about this with further links in it http://blog.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/maternal-mortality/

The AMA needs to get off Riki’s case, and off of home birthers case. These aren’t women giving birth in dirty bathroom stalls. These are women intelligently planning home births. What it needs to do is figure out why the maternity system they promote needs improvement, and why they feel so threatened by women taking charge of their own health.

Stef on

Mousie–That is a GREAT point. Homebirths work for women who have had or most likely will have a complication-free birth. However, for those who find themselves with a cervix that won’t dialate or a breech that won’t turn, they turn to the hospitals, which they so highly criticized, to pick up the slack.

Sarita on

I haven’t seen the film but I do know that birth is natural. I don’t agree with the people here that say it isn’t, it is an everyday thing and in most cases hospitals aren’t needed.

In the Netherlands you can’t even get an epidural if there is no medical need for it. Also, if you want to give birth in a hospital but there is no medical need for it your insurance won’t cover it.

sarah on

It is interesting to research into the history of childbirth. So many mothers used to die while giving birth to their children that giving birth was a source of real fear to a lot of women. Certainly, some health problems were more prevalent in the past. But it’s also something to consider before romanticizing homebirth, especially unassisted birth. It’s the best option for some, but not for every woman. And you’re not a failure for choosing the best birth situation for you.

Some of the language surrounding homebirth and “natural” childbirth is really judgmental. I think it’s extreme, for example, that a necessary c-section should be considered a disappointing birth experience. Ultimately, you never know why someone else made the choice she did – you just have to respect that she made the right decision for her.

Cara on

“Hospital C-section rates are high because – surprise – that’s where complicated cases end up.”

With all due respect, you haven’t done your research. The cesarean rate jumped to 30+% (from an already all time high rate of 21%) in just 10 years. And there are a number of reasons for this.

As has been said, most healthy, low-risk women still choose to birth in the hospital over the home (only 1% of women give birth at home). And most pregnancies, the vast majority, are healthy and uncomplicated. Why then are most healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies suddenly unable to give birth vaginally as evidenced by such an increase, an increase that has happened in only 10 years?

While the use of in-vitro technology has increased the rate of multiple births and thus cesareans, the increase in “social” inductions (induction of labor for non-medical reasons), the option of elective cesarean, and ever increasing malpractice insurance costs for maternity-care practitioners are the factors that have most influenced the sky-rocketing cesarean rate. OB care is the most litigious area of medicine and you can bet that this is driving the care that OBs provide. And it is also starting to affect the ability of CNMs to function as guardians of normal, vaginal birth as they are under similar pressure.

The World Health Organization, based on scientific data from industrialized nations and the developing world, has calculated that the rate of necessary cesarean sections should be at about 12-13% of births. Why are we, the wealthiest nation in the world, falling so short?

Cesareans are major surgery- there are inherent risks to mom and baby, risks that are FAR greater than the risks involved with normal, vaginal birth in MOST cases. They should be used when only necessary (and absolutely, there are times when they are necessary)but the medical community is not abiding by this standard at a cost to the health of moms and babies. There is a reason that we rank horribly low in infant and maternal mortality and morbidity among industrialized nations.

And truly health care consumers are to blame on some level. The rampant use of social inductions, c-sections for “pseudo” medical reasons like macrosomia without even a trial of labor, women asking to have a cesarean when there is no medical reason to do one….the movie really emphasized the need for pregnant women to educate themselves, to know their options and to find a health care provider who will help them achieve the best possible outcome for themselves and their babies. And it emphasized the need for women to stand up for themselves and not be bullied by a medical system that is about the almighty dollar and not about the optimum health of its citizens.

Cara on

“Homebirths work for women who have had or most likely will have a complication-free birth. However, for those who find themselves with a cervix that won’t dialate or a breech that won’t turn, they turn to the hospitals, which they so highly criticized, to pick up the slack.”

Of course they do because that is when the woman is no longer an uncomplicated delivery and she NEEDS to be at the hospital. No one who has talked about homebirth as a viable option is saying that hospitals shouldn’t exist- but the hospital is there, with its ability to provide medical intervention, when it is needed. Homebirth midwives (and CNMs) cannot perform cesareans so in the infrequent cases when they do need to transport to a hospital, the trip is warranted.

It is important that we criticize and question was is happening in the hospitals around childbirth or the care that moms and babies receive will never improve.

Lisa on

All three of my children and myself would have died if not for the quick responce from the medical team in a hospital. I personally do not care, one way or another how a woman chooses to have her baby, for me, I would take a hospital every single time rather than not. But to each their own. I have three healthy boys and they have a mother, I am grateful for that.

Kerry on

I has my son at home. Not planned but he decided to come quickly. Ambulance came as his head popped so hubby was planning to deliver.
I had my first at a hospital and i have to say that having a baby at home is an awesome experience. In your own environment i was calm.
I respect ladies with their decision, but i dont agree with elective c section because someone is “too posh to push”.
Homebirth shouldnt be a problem unless the baby is known to have issues. Medical Ricks.

Lara on

Everyone who has mentioned choice, I hope you are as supportive of those of us who choose to have elective c-sections.

Mtoo on

I think it’s fine for mothers to choose to give birth at home. However, if I hear about one more family suing a doctor because something went wrong during their home birth and the doctor, “didn’t tell us something would go wrong!!” I will scream.

I don’t have a problem with home births, but I do have a problem with this attitude lately that has been sweeping the nation that doctors are idiots and don’t know anything and that by reading an article or two the average person knows as much as these people who spent 7 – 10 years and often longer being educated in their field. People are becoming FAR too conceited, especially those of little true intelligence.

Sarah Jelmeland on

The Business of Being Born was made to inform women of all of their options. Hospitals/AMA does not. Does a doctor inform a woman of ALL of the complications having a C-Section can have? Do they talk of the risks of headaches, poor latch, hemorrhage, possible scarring to baby if cut while the uterus is being opened?

I found out I was pregnant with twins half way through my pregnancy and really had to think about having a homebirth (due to state laws) or going to a hospital. So I asked the hospitals what could I expect for a birthing experience. I was horrified by what I was told would happen. I will not go in to details but did wind up getting a letter from the Doctor explaining everything that would happen. I also looked at my risks of having my son and daughter born at home. My midwives would bring EVERYTHING that they have at the birth center. And thus my choice was made to have my twins at home.

On the day I went into labor it quickly became apparent that I had made the best choice possible. My daughter was born with a dent during her gestation in utero. She was rushed off to the hospital. Two of my midwives went to the hospital that day and followed up with the DR to inform them of everything that happened. And continued to meet me at the hospital everyday! We found out from the surgeon that repaired her head that if she had been born any other way than as a posterior breech then she would either be brain damaged or dead. My choice for a home birth saved my daughter!

Shame on the AMA for thinking that they ‘know’ what is best for a Mother and her Child(ren). Shame on them for blaming Ricki for bringing knowledge and light to a normal natural process that has been going on and on for eons.

ARe there times where a c-section are truly needed? YES. Are there times where a home birth is as safe as a birth anywhere else? YES. Should it be up to the woman to decide, fully informed on everything? YES.

Nichol said it beautifully: My body My Choice.

Zabeth on

Ultimately it’s every families own personal decision. But is anyone really surprised that the AMA would coume out with a statement like that?

Annette on

wow – i found this article to be interesting and a bit disturbing. i have not seen the movie myself so can’t comment on it. and personally i’m a big believer in giving birth in the hospital (having had a csection with my twins). but that is the choice i made and what was right for me. my older sister had all three of her kids at home, one of them without even a midwife present and all went perfect. i understand that things can go wrong – but the ama’s statement here seems way to much on the other extreme.

ultimately each woman (and her partner) should be able to make the choice that is right for them.

Ash on

Stef- I don’t think anyone here is criticizing hospitals. As someone said above, there is a time and a place for everything. I don’t believe that a hospital always has to be the first stop in giving birth. I do believe, based on all the research I’ve done, that homebirths are indeed safer for low risk mothers and certified midwives are very well trained in handling breech births as well as other difficult deliveries that would otherwise warrant a c-section in a hospital (for liability reasons because OB’s don’t want to get sued).

I think hospitals are a good option for high risk and emergency situations (because after all, hospitals are meant for helping sick people). But I strongly disagree with the AMA and the medical establishment’s view toward birth in general. I absolutely detest that women are brainwashed into believing that they need all these stupid interventions for a normal, uncomplicated labor and delivery. I also hate the fact that doctors are routinely putting their patients on timetables (i.e., starting pitocin just because a woman might not be dilating fast enough for them). It’s sickening and women should be fed up with it! I would never sit back and just accept what some doctor or nurse told me without asking a million questions first. But then again, I like to take an active role in managing my own health, and I don’t blindly trust people. I applaud Ricki Lake for taking a stand and showing mothers that they have other choices.

Jen on

I’ve had 3 of 3 UNASSISTED births and LOVED them. I think women should labor and deliver where they are comfortable. I was comfortable at home – with my family, not fighting off OBs and their dictatorial protocols.

If birth was difficult, we wouldn’t have overpopulation in 3rd world countries where they very often have NO prenatal care, adequate nutrition or any labor support.

I had plenty of “complications”:

#1 – I had pre-term labor at 36 weeks that I handled with ONE chiropractic adjustment. Not one contraction until after my water broke 3 weeks later. 29 hours of labor and then 3 days later, I hemorrhaged pretty badly, which I handled at home with herbs and natural form of vitamin K. Can you say terbulatine or induction if I had been with a hospital?

#2 was 4.5 WEEKS overdue after contracting Rubella at week 10 of my pregnancy. I think it just took his body longer to do what it was suppose to do. He was over 10 pounds with a compound presentation. No tearing. I would have been induced at “term” and I don’t think he would have survived, since he was a bit dusty for 3 days after he was born. He was not born a minute too soon.

#3 was 12 days “overdue” and labor was not progressing like it “should have”. Even up until she was born, contractions were 8 minutes apart and then sometimes 2 minutes apart, and even double peaking. I would have been on pitocin at the hospital for FTP – failure to progress….after almost 30 hours of inconsistent contractions.

I thought America was the land of the free and home of the brave? We aren’t ALL scared sheep…but the AMA would like us to be.

christine on

tears are coming to my eyes to think that some woman may never have the chance (or desire) to birth at home. i live in Oregon where homebirth is legal, and anything less than what i had for my birth would have been traumatic for me and my baby.

After 18 hours of labor (in which i was able to move, dance, sing, and everything else i needed – including eat!), my baby was born into my husbands arms, underwater, in my bedroom. no glaring lights, fetal monitors, unnecessary meds. i feel that the ability to birth a child is our biological right and it appalls me to think the AMA wants to outlaw it. i will do everything in my power to try to stop this legislation from happening.

Philippa on

i don’t really understand all the fuss about this. i think everyone should decide for themselves what they’re most comfortable with. i’m from holland, and here home births are completely normal, personally i think i would go to hospital, but that doesn’t mean home births are wrong or anything…

kateg on

I had my first baby in Holland (I am British) where home births are really the norm and are accepted and valued by most women. The midwives are very experienced and there is excellent after care with a maternity nurse coming for three to five whole days to offer support and care. As I am diabetic I had to have a hospital delivery and ended up with an emergency c-section but that is unusual. Even in hospital no pain relief is offered so a ‘natural’ experience is really at the forefront of thinking. I am now expecting my second child in Malaysia where I will have a scheduled c-section and where hospitals and pain relief rule. I guess I am saying that every woman’s and country’s capacity for home birth is different and it should be a personal choice. I haven’t seen Ricki Lake’s film but I think anything that raises awareness of the various options is good. Even hospital deliveries can be awful (my wound re-opened twice and my baby nearly died) so there are no guarantees. Plus, all babies need doctors at some point no matter how they are born and no method provides a ‘one stop shop’.

Elena on

The AMA recognizes the goose that lays the golden egg. It is very lucrative and very convenient to have women driving to the hospital to have their babies and pay thousands of dollars to do what the body does naturally anyway?

Ricki Lake’s movie finally addressed the big elephant in the room – why are all these medical interventions happening to the MAJORITY OF BIRTHING WOMEN in the hospital setting.

Her film also showed young women that natural birth isn’t the screaming mess it’s portrayed on t.v. and movies. The AMA is scared, they’re very scared that women are simply going to take back birth!

chris on

The movie is definitely biased but so is the AMA. AMA doctors are definitely worried about losing business but I do think they have a valid point. So much can go wrong with deliveries, that’s why every woman has to weigh the pros and cons and then make an informed choice. Thank goodness we have so many options.

Morgan on

I haven’t seen the film, but I will comment on the mindset that there are no reasons for a woman to choose to give birth in a hospital vs. homebirth, as though hospitals are all grossly uncomfortable, dismissive and unfeeling places.
I live in Georgia and when I was well into my 2nd trimester, I fought repeatedly with my ex-husband about having a water birth for our daughter. I felt it would be the smoothest transition for her, I brushed aside his asinine concerns about her drowning (Biology 101; she’s been in fluid this whole time) and stuck to my guns….
Until Sofia started exhibiting signs of stress around my 41st week of gestation. I went into the hospital for an induction and after 36hrs, 3.5 cmm dilation, consistant contractions where her heart rate AND mine dropped drastically, I was thanking God for my amazing OBGYN, HIS responsive, kind & thoughtful nursing staff and the anaesthesiologist!! My emergency C-Section resulted in a happy, healthy baby girl who would not have been so had she been born in my home.
Because I had a patient medical team and responsive, attentive doctor, I learned afterward that due to my physiological make up, I would never have dialated the full 10cmm, and even if I had, with the angle of my pelvis, Sofia would have suffered severely being forced through the birth canal. As would future children.
I applaud those who are diligent and do the research to determine which birth plan is best for you; but do the work. Don’t be shepherded along by the AMA or documentaries; no matter how informative. Because at the end of the day, it’s your body and your baby. YOU have to make the educated choice because that’s who you’re responsible to.
At the same time, given that I have to have C-sections for all future children, I don’t want to hear the BS from women insisting I take unnecessary risks (because in my case, it would be a risk) and attempt a vaginal delivery. If we’re truly intending to be supportive of one another, let’s not make that conditional support based on our agreeance with another mother’s birthing plan.

susan on

I think its a great film.. however, i will finght with every last breath for a woman to give birth where and with whom she chooses. if its in a hospital or home. its a womans right not the ama. they dont have it right either. they use drugs to induce that harm woman and babies. if you choose to birth out of a hospital YOU own the risk.. we are not just vessels or incubaters. also there is no such thing as an exact science.. especially medicine.. life is risky no matter where you are..

LJK on

Here in Holland I was shocked to hear about how common homebirth is.. but after almost 7 yrs of living here I see that it’s a positive thing! To have a baby in a hospital here is WEIRD and you even have to pay for it without a medical reason to be there!! Midwives handle ALL checkups reagrdless. I had insisted on a dr for my pregnancy with my son and quickly learned how cold and distant a dr was for this special time in my life and switched to a midwife. I felt so taken care of! I ended up going 2 weeks overdue and therfore no longer allowed to have a homebirth and had to use doctors and the hospital. 5 yrs later, I’m still not over the trauma of the whole thing. I’m a week from my due date with my 2nd and terrified that I won’t get to have my midwife deliver me! I will be going to hospital but only because of blood loss with my 1st and I will still get to have the midwife provided I don’t go overdue.

The USA has the highest rate of death in babies and mothers during birth.. obviously something isn’t being done as it should be!

Doctors want to cut.. and they do. The documentary was a great one that ALL women should see!

Elly on

While I think its fine for people to choose how to give birth to their baby, its silly of her to say that homebirth was around long before hospitals…there was also a much higher fatality rate before hospitals as well. Do whats best for you and understand the risks.

Lisa on

Ok, I find it disturbing to see so many posts critisizing hospital births. Lets not forget, that MANY babies dies each year to home births just as they do in a hospital. C-sections are not normally scheduled just because someone is too posh to push. Saying that and posting that is absolute ignorance. I had an emergency c-section with my first son, and if I had been at home birthing, he would have died. Plain and simple! I had a VBAC with my second and he was born blue and the cord around his knot and head. Do I need to tell you the outcome of that one if we had not been in a hospital where doctors were watching us? ANd with my third, I opted for a routine, repeat c-section due to being high risk and it ended up being an emergency situation. If we had not been in a hispital then he may have died and I would most certainly have. My family are grateful to the doctors for their knowledge and quick thinking, as am I. I find it upsetting that CBB is even posting these posts and would ask such a question KNOWING that it would cause upset and insults.

Cordelia's Mommy on

The issue here, sadly, is money. as many have said, women have been having babies at home unmedicated since the beginning of time. problem with that is, no one is profiting from that. Just as no one profits from breastfeeding (formula and bottle sales, etc.) and co-sleeping (crib sales, etc.). Natural Family Living, Attachment Parenting, or whatever you call it and all things related, will always take a bad rap and get blasted for safety and whatever other issues can be thrown at it, frankly, because no one profits. very very very sad. I mean come on, if you are a mother you know, NOTHING is more important to you than your child. You will do whatever you can or have to do to take care of them. I am quite certain that any mother or mid-wife would get themselves and their clients as fast as possible to a hospital if any serious medical problems arose. No one would hold fast to the ‘movement’ of natural unassisted childbirth if the health of mom or baby were in danger. the real issue is just money if you really look at it.

Caroline on

Quote by LJK at 9:46

“The USA has the highest rate of death in babies and mothers during birth.. obviously something isn’t being done as it should be!”

Can you please indicate your source for this quote? I find it hard to believe. Yes, the rate is increasing in the US – but it is certainly not the highest in the world.

This is what I found:

In 2003, the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA produced a report with statistics gathered from 2000. The world average was 400, the average for developed regions was 20, and for developing regions 440. The worst countries were: Sierra Leone (2,000), Afghanistan (1,900), Malawi (1,800), Angola (1,700), Niger (1,600), Tanzania (1,500), Rwanda (1,400), Mali (1,200), Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau (1,100 each), Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Burundi, and Mauritania (1,000 each).

Donita on

Just another example of the AMA and medical world trying to control a woman’s body and choices!

TwinMamma on

Home births sound nice and lovely. I considered it. However, after doing MY OWN research and reading I felt the safest option for my children was a hospital birth. Boy did I make the right decision. Both pregnancies (3 kids) ended up with emergency situations. My twin pregnancy, yeah, that pregnancy had complications. But my singleton was the perfect, textbook pregnancy. Had I tried to deliver my son at home, all would have seemed well. I very likely would have ended up with a dead baby.
Birthing centers seem to be the happy medium, or having a midwife at your hospital birth. Having a midwife there to advocate for you with the doctor has worked out well (at least for my friend). If I am lucky enough to have baby #4, I will have a midwife assisted hospital birth.
Yes, women have been giving birth for centuries. But women have also been dying in childbirth with a lot higher frequency before medical advances. That arguement is old and tired. People apply that addage to everything: “I smoked and drank when I was with you and you turned out fine!” Yes, many people did that back in the day and many kids turn out fine. Point being, some don’t. I’m not willing to risk the health of my child or risk leaving them motherless.

Caroline on

Everyone that is posting “Women have given birth at home since the begingin of time” — do you realise that women had been dieing of birth since the begining of time as well?

This is from the Washington Post:

“The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, according to statistics released this week by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 _ the first time the maternal death rate rose above 10 since 1977.

To be sure, death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States. The death of infants is much more common _ the nation’s infant mortality rate was 679 per 100,000 live births in 2004.

Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy long ago. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother’s death as recently as 90 years ago.”

Lisa on

Cordelia’s Mommy–It is not always known what is going on in the body. My son was born blue and the doctor was shocked. We had no idea that he was crazy up in there. With my third, his cord was tied in several knots and around his neck. IF I had pushed, it could have been a terrible outcome. Saying that a midwife will get you to a hospital is good and probably accurate, but there is not always an indication that it is time to pack up and get to one and a few seconds can mean all the difference.

Erin on

I absolutely support women’s right to choose a home birth, and I think the AMA is being a little dramatic in their criticism of Ricki Lake. That being said, I do think it is important for women to know the risks and benefits of each method of childbirth so they can make informed choices. For instance, I gave birth in a hospital after three days of laboring at home. I ended up with an emergency c-section after my son inhaled meconium during the birth and went into distress. While some may argue that this wouldn’t have happened at home, I was just thankful that resources were readily available to save my son’s life. Ultimately, what every woman wants is to take home a healthy baby, regardless of how the baby enters the world.

Ash on

Yes, there were more maternal deaths in the past BUT you have to remember that there were a lot of other variables involved. Babies and mothers didn’t die simply because they were born at home! They often died because of infections like puerperal fever and that was due to the lack of knowledge regarding sanitation and how germs spread. Even until the 20th century, women were dying in large numbers IN HOSPITALS from puerperal fever because doctors were seen as “gentlemen” who couldn’t possibly be transferring bacteria and viruses between their patients (I’m not making that up either; that’s actually what people believed… I was just reading about it the other day). It’s really quite interesting… I’d encourage people to do their research. I couldn’t believe that because of the pedestal doctors were placed on and because of their ignorance, women were dying left and right. Since the 1800’s, scientists were writing books on the subject and trying to explain to doctors that they were killing their patients. The doctors didn’t want to believe it! Thank goodness things have changed.

Today, homebirth is much safer because we know how to prevent the spread of infections like puerperal fever which was one of the main causes (if not the main cause) of maternal death in the past. It’s kind of short-sighted to say that homebirth isn’t safe just because so many women died in the past from childbirth. That was the past! This is the present. We have the knowledge and the know-how in the 21st century to make homebirth safe (and as many of the previous posters have pointed out, it is the norm in many countries around the world). I have seen shows on television where mothers attempted a homebirth and then suddenly started hemmorhaging or something else happened… The midwives simply gave them pitocin or another medication to stop the bleeding and then the women were taken to the hospital. In all cases, everything turned out fine. Is it just me or does something always seem to go wrong when a woman gives birth in a hospital? It seems like almost everyone I know has gone in to the hospital and been put on pitocin right away (I have no idea why) which then ended up in an emergency c-section because the baby’s heart rate dipped, etc. It’s almost as if the hospital setting itself creates problems that wouldn’t have existed in the first place if the mother wasn’t loaded up with unnecessary drugs and everything. Just a thought. I think it’s more than a coincidence. Regardless of what people want to people, in most cases, homebirth is perfectly safe.

Rebecca on

I personally know of a woman who had a perfect pregnancy, gave birth to a perfect baby girl in a hospital, then she(the mother) died from excessive bleeding the day before leaving the hospital. There are risks to hospital births as well. Nothing is 100 percent safe and as women would should allow others to make this decision for themselves and not judge them so harshly.
I gave birth in a hospital and it was an awful experience. The dr’s and nurses didn’t know us from a hole in the wall. The even wrote incorrect information in my medical records(such as prescriptions I was on)

Becky on

You know…I am a typical example of a doctor trying to give me a c-section for no reason. The hospital was so busy. They even turned off my pit one hour after turning in on because “they are too busy to have me go into labor”. Since I was induced because of preaclampcia my doctor was unfortunantly not able to be there as she was in the office but she was calling the doctor on call constantly to check in on me. I was progressing great and then when I was 9 centemeters my daughter was still high up and “stuck on my hip bone”, he told me I would more than likely need a c section. They scare you. They make it sound like there is no way you can have this baby without the c section. (Don’t get me wrong, I know most cases a c section is 100% necassary and I am not talking about those times) He came back in shortly later and had me lay in between laying on my stomach and my side for an hour and when he came back after that…guess what? I was 10 centimeters, baby had dropped all the way and I was ready to push. He would have given me a c section and me being a first time mom, would have thought that is what I would have had to do. He also used the vacuum after 10 mins of pushing. Looking back, I know all of that was beacuse they were so busy and they were trying to fit me in their schedule. they even told me they only had 3 open beds in the whole maternity section and this is a huge hopsital. They didn’t have time for me to lay on my stomach for an hour for the baby to drop and to push for 45 mins, they just wanted it done, quick. My doctor told me later, after he told me I would more than likely need a c section that he went out to call my doctor to tell her and she told me she said to him, don’t you dare! I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had to incude her early and she had to have a c section because of it and she is the one who told him to have me lay on my stomach. She asked him to please do it for her. Like I said up above, I saw the movie and am thinking about a home birth, BUT if I don’t go through with it, I am comfortable in a hospital with my doctor, not the on call doctor, well, at least that one. She is great and I know she respects my choices. Again, it’s all about choices. You get to choose your doctor, you get to choose your hospital, why can’t you chose the right way and place for you to birth? The AMA needs to butt out!

martina on

I cannot believe that the AMA, with all the problems facing the world, has chosen to target Ricky Lake of all people! How insane.

Ash on

p.s. In case anyone wants to read it, here is the first link I found regarding puerperal fever which gives a good overview:


That, my friends, was one of the main causes of maternal death- not homebirth itself as commonly believed. Interestingly, it says it was noticed that “puerperal fever was rare in women who gave birth BEFORE arriving at the hospital.” Hmm, so I guess even back then, homebirth was safer because women were more likely to pick up the infection at a hospital. I think it’s important to note that most certified midwives these days carry antibiotics with them so for women who are strep B positive, etc., you can still labor at home.

Ash on

p.s. In case anyone wants to read it, here is the first link I found regarding puerperal fever which gives a good overview:


That, my friends, was one of the main causes of maternal death- not homebirth itself as commonly believed. Interestingly, it says it was noticed that “puerperal fever was rare in women who gave birth BEFORE arriving at the hospital.” Hmm, so I guess even back then, homebirth was safer because women were more likely to pick up the infection at a hospital. I think it’s important to note that most certified midwives these days carry antibiotics with them so for women who are strep B positive, etc., you can still labor at home.

kendrajoi on

I had an unexpected c-section, and I can see negatives on both sides of the debate. On Ricki Lake’s side- she says home births have been around a lot longer than hospital births- true, but what was the infant mortality before hospitals- much higher than now. On the other hand, I am suspicious of the AMA’s actions. I’m not sure it’s in the best interest of pregnant women. Afterall, a home birth takes away from their business. The bottom line with me is that women should definitely have choices in how they give birth- whether it’s a home birth or planned c-section, as long as they are well-informed. JMHO.

Lesha on

It’s also important to note that they are targetting free standing birth clinics as well, not just home births: “in support of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex.”

I had initially planned for our birth in a free standing birth center, which has the ability for some medical intervention if necessary, but it’s much more “homey” than a hospital. It’s all about doing your own research and making your own choice as to what’s best for your situation. Something the AMA apparently wants to take away.

Tara on

Women deserve fact-based information about childbirth choices, pregnancy care, postpartum care and mothering. Becoming a mother is an important job, one most of us take very seriously, and one most of us feel unprepared for and scared about when it’s our time.

Shame on the the AMA for capitalizing on women’s inherent worry about pregnancy and birth to create a threatening and guilt-provoking message to expectant mothers. No one–be it politicians, medical professionals, husbands, family members, or clergy–has the right to bully a woman into making pregnancy or birth decisions using fear, threats, or rank. If the AMA has to use emotionally abusive tactics like that to maintain the status quo, shouldn’t that tell us something?

Becoming a mother, being pregnant, giving birth, taking care of a newborn–these tasks are all scary enough without having lobbying groups use emotional ploys to push women into medically controlled birth environments that may or may not be necessary.

TBOBB has done a wonderful job creating conversation and drawing attention to childbirth choices in the US. There is tons of research to show the safety of homebirth for low-risk, healthy women, the superior quality of care provided by midwives, the superior maternal and fetal outcomes under midwifery care, and the advantages and disadvantages of medically managed childbirth in hospitals.

I’m proud of Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein for their movie and how they’ve succeeded in creating national awareness of statistical safety of midwifery care, homebirth and the powerful economic forces at play that are pushing women to keep birthing in hospitals when it’s often not necessary.

I’m proud, too, of all the women who claim their right to make the childbirth choices that are right for them–whether that’s at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital. Every woman deserves to feel confident as she becomes a mother. Every woman deserves to be informed about her upcoming birth, without being threatened or bullied. And every woman deserves access to quality health/wellness care and skilled medical/emergency care. Those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and the AMA should be ashamed of itself for suggesting otherwise.

european on

Elle, I think you have the wrong figures. Check out the WHO report:


the maternal mortality rate is the same for Holland as it is for the US: 11. And this means Holland actually has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Western Europe.

Also, the idea in Holland is that it’s such a densely populated country that a hospital is never far in case something goes wrong. It’s different for the US, where the nearest hospital is generally quite a bit further away.

I personally know of a Dutch woman who’s lost her baby, a baby that would have been saved had she given birth in a hospital.

So for me, the example of Holland is actually a good reason why home births shouldn’t be the norm.

Nicole on

It’s all about choices… and like we’ve said a million & one times, there are no medals for getting a baby here. Your reward is a happy, healthy baby who is safe.

However, with that said, I think that it should be the woman’s choice as to how & where she gives birth. If she’s comfortable at home & able to handle it, then so be it. If she wants to be in a hospital with an epidural, go ahead. The point is that this is your birth experience, you should do it your way… take back this experience from Drs & hospitals who are just trying to put you on the timer so they can get their next customer in. Fight the dr that tells you your need an induction because the baby’s too big (remember ultrasounds can be off by more or less than a pound), fight the nurses who want you to get up immediately after birth, fight for the birth experience that you want WHATEVER that may be. The labor & delivery experience are so special and for it to be tainted by all this controversy just upsets me.

I fully agree with Abbey on the question of where women gave birth before there were hospitals? Think about that one.

Carrie Jo on

I think the AMA would be better off providing more information and statistics than the fear-mongering they are so accustomed to. The AMA is often against non-allopathic medical treatment, but we’re at a time in history when we have enough information available to us to make our own informed decisions. The AMA doesn’t need to save us from ourselves.

Nichol on

Ok so I found some more words on this issue.
Lets talk about a few things here, first EVERY woman needs to be educated about the birth process and informed of more than they are right now. So many believe the “medical model” of birth that we see in media that they are too scared to even know about what goes on for real in their bodies. The lack of knowledge of the birthing process is almost puritanical in this country.

If I had a dollar for everytime I hear “thank god for the c-section because his cord was around his neck” I would open my own birthcenter! Seriously folks babies are not in danger from cord wrap UNLESS that cord is being compressed. They do not breath through their mouth, or use their lungs inside mom. The cord supplies the baby with oxygen and nutrition, if the cord is compressed they will be in distress, but no harm comes to the baby from a cord around the neck if the cord is not compressed. I suspect but cannot prove that this reason is give as a simple answer to women who want to know why they had a CS and most are happy to use it in explaining how something went seriously wrong during labor.
While I have no doubt that cord compression is a valid reason for CS, I have a hard time believing that it happens as often as the AMA or ACOG would like us to believe.
Ok had to get that off my chest.
Next, I respect everyone’s right to choose the sort of birth they want. Yes even elective CS and unnassisted births. I may think it’s crazy to elect to have a major sugery filled with inherent risk just because of the fear of labor and pushing or because of the conveinence of knowing what day the baby will arrive. I may shudder at the thought of delivering my child without the help of a trained midwive or doctor because, BUT those are MY feelings, and MY choices. I do not have the right and neither does the AMA to legislate or direct any woman’s birth in any way that SHE does not choose.
Think about this for a moment. We live in a country where women have the right to “choose” IF they give birth, but in some states cannot choose WHERE that birth will take place. There is something wrong with that IMO.
As to the safety of home birth vs hostpital birth that is truly in the woman’s hands. She has to be informed and choose the right attendents, be supported, respected, and protected. For a mammal to give birth they need to feel safe. Biologically speaking if there is any fear, the “fight or flight” response kicks in causing her body to produce adrenelin which counter acts oxytocin and can slow, stall or even stop labor. The biological purpous of this is to keep the baby from being born until the mother is in a safe place. It kept us from being eatin by lions. In a hospital, which most people subconsciously associate with the sick and dying, the sources of fear are a lot greater in number than in ones own home. The unknown, humanity’s greatest source of fear, surrounds birth and conquering that fear in a setting that is rife with the unfamiliar is difficult to do.
I did it with #2. That labor was 26 hours long in a hospital and other than an amniotomy (artifical breaking of the bag of waters) REQUESTED BY ME there were NO interventions. My birth team even used external version to turn my posterior or “sunny side up” baby to get him unstuck.

Seriously an unmedicated, low intervention, natural, vaginal birth can happen in a hospital. But it is much harder to accomplish and requires a lot of though, prior planning, and the support of everyone involved. You have to be willing to fight the system in place that likes to manage births down to 1cm an hour progression and push pitocin if you don’t fit that mold. You have to have people willing to step up and “fire” anyone in the room who isn’t respecting the choices of the parents or is threatening the ability of the mother to feel safe. I know, we fired a nurse at #2’s birth because she reminded me of my husbands psyco ex-wife and I was terrified of her so my labor stopped after 18 hours in! As soon as she was gone it started up again and went much more smoothly.
Anyone who doesn’t feel safe having a home birth or a birth center birth (as I did with #3) should read the book “A Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer. It can help prepair you for the hospital in ways that “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” cannot. IMO there is nothing wrong with hospital births if a women goes into it educated, it can be an amazing experience and not just a medical event that ends with a baby.
Instead of fighting over where women should be “allowed” to give birth we should all be working towards helping women have the best birth they can. And yes while I know everyone’s goal is a healthy baby, we cannot forget the trauma that a “bad” birth can have on a mother’s psyche. It can lead to some serious issues for mom including but not limited to post-partum depression and breastfeeding faliure, which have direct and detrimental effects on that healthy baby.
We as a country undervalue the importance of this event in a woman’s life. Yes we honor the birth of a child, but the journey by which that child gets here is just as important to the woman on that journey. And every woman has the right to decide which path she wishes to take. Not the AMA, not the government, not you, not me. HER.

Ash on

p.s. In case anyone wants to read it, here is the first link I found regarding puerperal fever which gives a good overview:


That, my friends, was one of the main causes of maternal death- not homebirth as commonly believed. Interestingly, it says it was noticed that “puerperal fever was rare in women who gave birth before arriving at the hospital.” Hmm, so I guess even back then, homebirth was safer because women were more likely to contract the infection at a hospital. Also, I think all certified midwives these days carry antibiotics with them so for women who are strep B positive, etc., you can still labor at home.

Lauren on

Not having seen the film, I can’t and won’t make any comments regarding its supposed bias for homebirths. I will say, however, that I agree 100% with Mtoo’s post:

“I don’t have a problem with home births, but I do have a problem with this attitude lately that has been sweeping the nation that doctors are idiots and don’t know anything and that by reading an article or two the average person knows as much as these people who spent 7 – 10 years and often longer being educated in their field. People are becoming FAR too conceited, especially those of little true intelligence.”

You took the words right out of my mouth. When it comes to the topics of birth, autism, and vaccines in particular, the sheer nerve of people who denounce entire groups of licensed professionals who put themselves through years of exams, research, and medical school to save lives on a daily basis and pretend that they know it all after sitting on their behinds for a few hours and drumming up some articles is unbeliavable. Some posters on this site sound like outright conspiracy theorists; you’d think the medical industry was involved in some sort of mass conspiracy to murder infants and poison children for personal pleasure reading their rants.

I am far from believing that doctors, nurses, et. al are almighty gods, but I stand by the belief that as long as they work in an utmost crucial field of work, they deserve utmost respect (as do midwives). Some may be biased in their inclinations to lead towards hospital births, vaccines, etc., but after reading countless posts on various medical issues here it is absolutely clear to me that the opposite side has their own agenda to push and has no problems doing so. I’d be quite hesitant to call the kettle black if I were some of you.

Elle on

European @ 1:06:

The studies cited are as follows:

For Netherlands homebirth statistics:
Jan Poorter, PRIMARY HEALTH CARE IN THE NERTHERLANDS, MINISTRY OF HEALTH, WELFARE, AND SPORT (The Hague: January 2005): 31; http://www.minvws.nl/en/folders/cz/2005/primary-health-care.asp

For US homebirth statistics:
National Center for Health Statistics, “Births: Final Date for 2004,” NATIONAL VITAL STATISTICS REPORTS 55, no. 1 (2006): 19; Of the 1 percent of out-of-hospital births in 1004, 65 percent were in a residence and 27 percent were in a freestanding birth center.

For Netherlands Cesarean statistics:
AP Betran, et al., “Rates of Cesarean Section” Analysis of Global, Regional and National Estimates,” PAEDIATRIC AND PERINATAL EPIDEMIOLOGY 21 (2007): 98-113

For US Cesarean statistics:
Brady E. Hamilton, et al., “Births: Preliminary Data for 2005,” NATIONAL VITAL STATISTICS REPORTS 55, no. 11 (28 December 2006): 1; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr55/nvsr55_11.pdf

For Netherlands infant mortality statistics:
CIA World Factbook: http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos.nl.html

For US infant mortality statistics:
CIA World Factbook: http://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html#People

For maternal mortality rates from the Netherlands and the US:
UN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2006: BEYOND SCARCITY: POWER, POVERTY, AND THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS, “Maternal Mortality Ratio Reported,” http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics/indicators/97.html

Again, all citations found in Mothering Magazine’s September-October 2007 issue in the article “Homebirth in Holland” on page 68.

Lauren on

TBOBB was a balanced look at the medical industry surrounding birth and showed healthy, normal home births as well as a situation that necessitated transfer and c-section. Most women have healthy, normal pregnancies and can successfully birth at home with the care of a trained provider. Doctors are certainly knowledgable but few have witnessed spontaneous, natural birth in their practices. Institutional rules force interventions that lead to problems. If all you’ve been exposed to is hospital birth, then it’s understandable to feel leery of homebirth — but that doesn’t make homebirth unsafe or wrong. I had a homebirth in February with my first baby and it was an intense, empowering experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. There was absolutely no reason for me to be in a clinical setting during pregnancy or birth. And I made that call WAY before seeing TBOBB. Doctors need to accept that they won’t be monopolizing birth in the USA for long. Women are ready for better options in maternity care, and midwife-attended homebirth is a GREAT option.

European on

Elle, the only statistic that means anything here is the maternal mortality rate. Still born babies form only a very small part of the total infant mortality rate, not enough to make much of a difference there, so that stat is irrelevant.

You can’t compare the US to a smaller country like the Netherlands. It makes more sense to compare the Netherlands to the other European countries and in that regard, Holland isn’t doing well at all.

As in the US, Dutch women don’t have that much of a choice. A hospital birth is the norm in the US and women choosing a home birth are sometimes frowned upon. In Holland, it’s the other way around. A home birth is the norm and women who’re not always comfortable with that are still gently pressured into having a home birth. I don’t think that’s healthy.
I’ve heard some real horror stories from Dutch women, women who’d been rushed to hospital after all, who would have liked to have had an epidural but couldn’t because they were in labour outside of office hours. Yes, the statistics for C-sections and epidurals in Holland look impressive. But quite a few women in that stat would have preferred to have had an epidural but their request was denied. In Holland, it’s gone a bit too far in the other direction.

It’s important that women can make a choice for themselves how they want to give birth. It should be a women’s own choice and she shouldn’t be made to feel bad about going against the norm.

Kerri on

I find it kind of curious how many people are posting supporting choice for home birth, when they go the complete opposite direction when discussing an elective C-section.

Personally, neither of those choices really appeals to me (I’ll take my vaginal birth in a hospital with an epidural, please), but it seems silly to go in opposite directions with the same “choice” argument.

jjmom on

Why do so many people seem to think homebirth=no way to save mom and baby if something goes wrong?? In my experience midwives are better at that time than hospitals/OBs/l&d nurses. They tend not to panic, like when my second daughter got stuck. She simply flipped me over onto all fours and had me breath her out. The flipping moved the baby into a better position and opened up my pelvis, and as soon as we knew she was moving down, dh helped me squat to get her out the rest of the way. No panicking, no yelling, no broken collar bone. Total opposite of my sister whose little one got stuck during her hospital birth, there they put her all the way on her back, shoved her knees up and back, a nurse pushed on her stomach while the OB screamed at her to push while he pulled. My nephew was born with a broken clavicle and massive bruising.

My midwife also had an assistant, oxygen, pitocin etc…. In case of an emergency. She is also fully trained in neo-natal resuscitation.

HardCandy on

Why are they taking this very important choice away from women? A hospital birth is not for everyone and it seems to me that the women who choose home births usually have a more positive experience than women who give birth in hospitals.

Kate on

I find in these discussions, the people who have had serious complications during pregnancy, focus on the outcome of healthy baby, whereas others focus on whether the experience is what you wanted. That’s an easy thing to focus on when you have a healthy baby with no complications.

I would rather have what some might see as an unncessary c-section and a healthy living baby, than push my body and my baby to the extreme, and not have my baby in the end. Don’t think it happens? It does, otherwise, my friend would have an almost 2 year old, and she doesn’t. Her son’s autopsy showed that had he been delivered by c-section, he would have lived. He might have needed ongoing medical treatment, but he would be here.

So many women act as if every hospital birth is created equal when it’s not. Yes, some women have bad experiences in the hospital, but just as many as positive experiences. I had a walking epidural with my daughter in a hospital. Within 30 minutes of giving birth, I was up and showering, in my own pajamas, and I was home the next afternoon. I’ve had friends given birth at home whose baby’s wouldn’t breastfeed, and friends who had c-sections whose baby’s breastfed like little champs. Every birth, and every child is different.

Ash, people are criticizing doctors and hospitals, whether you realize it or not. I’ve seen numerous posters talk about choice and education, but then say women are brainwashed by doctors who act like dictators. Millions of babies wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for hospitals.

I see people questioning the pracitces going on in hospitals, but no one is questioning the standard of care provided by midwives as if they are all the same and are all have the best of motives. Even midwives can be unethical and money driven. I believe the AMA would be more accepting of homebirthing if there was a recognized standard of care, but there isn’t. BTW, money is involved either way.

I’m also bothered by this discussion of choice. There seems to be a refusal to believe that a woman can be fully educated and informed about her options (not brainwashed as some of you have said) and still choose a hospital birth or electice c-section. And this “too posh to push” thing? Try not to be so judgemental. You want people to respect the choice you made, show people the same courtesy.

hkdiaz on

I haven’ seen the documentary, but in my opinion a woman should be able to give birth in whatever enironment she is most comfortable with. I don’t undertsnad though, how all of these home births are described as “beautiful and natural” and most of the hospital births are full of “c-sections, pitocin, and epidurals”. I gave birth in a hospital. My water broke at home, we went to the hospital, got the epidural (I don’t handle pain very well) and within 5 hours from when my water broke, my daughter was born. It was beautiful and natural to me.

seosinger on

I think the key to having a good hospital or homebirth is being informed. But I also believe that there is a lack of choice in this country when it comes to childbirth. I chose to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) for my most recent one (after one vaginal and one cesarean). After much research, my husband and I intuitively felt that it was the safest option for both me and our baby. Due to the slight risks (as there are with any birth)we chose to do it in a hospital birthing center that had immediate access to an OR and NICU. We got so much flack for it, even though we were taking every precaution. People just get scared because the only thing ever publicized is the bad that can happen. What about the large majority of births that go without a glitch?

ATenthMuse on

I’ve had very complicated hospital births, which I now believe were actually that way, because the medical professionals that were in charge of my care made them so, due to too many unnecessary interventions. Inductions, pitocin, etc. I knew in my heart there was a better way for me.

On April 23rd, I gave birth to a 12lb, 23 inch boy at home. My other babies were all average size and we naturally thought that this one would be, too. Nothing led us to believe otherwise. (I did not have gestational diabetes.) We dealt with a cervical lip, shoulder dystocia, and a retained placenta all at home with my wonderful, well-trained lay midwives. I’m fine and baby’s fine. If we’d been in a hospital this time, I’m sure that the outcome would NOT have been the same. I doubt I would be as happy about how his birth was or as at peace with decisions that were made.

I’m thrilled that Ricki made this film and that women are realizing that there are other options. Birth is natural. It is *not* an illness.

ladymama on

I think it’s so unfortunate that the rift continues to grow between doctors and midwives. Midwives and doctors need to forge complimentary relationships, so that they can work together when needed. In my city in Texas, eight years after forcing the midwives out of hospital practice, some OBs are even starting to oppose the doulas. Not cool.

I don’t believe homebirth is for everyone, even though I had one.

Lots of people believe that they or their child would have died if it weren’t for being in the hospital. That may or may not be true. My experience was different. My daughter was born at home, totally wrapped up in her cord, after more than 4 hours of pushing and an episiotomy. My midwife expertly resuscitated her when we finally got her out. Her apgars at birth were the lowest they could be. At five minutes, they were great. She’s been fine ever since.

Had I been in the hospital, I can guarantee that I would have been given pitocin, an internal fetal monitor, had an epidural, had a vacuum extraction, or maybe even ended up with a c-section. NONE of these was ultimately necessary for my safety or my daughter’s (although during labor I certainly wouldn’t have minded the drugs or being sliced open to end it all!). I also believe that my baby would have been separated me for observation, and possibly sent to the NICU, when we were both absolutely fine, if totally shell-shocked. My certified midwife with 25 years of experience and 2,000+ births was absolutely up adequate to our needs.

ladymama on

I am curious as to why several people believe Ricki’s documentary was under-researched.

Julie Leonardo on

To Anna,
Women around the turn of the century did die a lot more often, but that was because of many different causes. One was making women lie on their backs causing all sorts of problems and not going with their bodies. Another reason was corsets, which permanently disfigured women’s bodies and distorted the position of the organs. Doctors actually CAUSED childbed fever by not washing hands between sick people and pregnant women. This was noticed by several doctors but ignored for half a century. Also, the problems in other countries with maternal and fetal mortality has a lot to do with malnutrition, lack of clean water, and other issues. That is one of the reasons why when comparisons are made between other countries and the US, that they do not include third world countries because this would not be an accurate comparison. Yes women can die in childbirth, but nature does not always predict that your child will live. Babies and mothers die in hospitals, but no one blames the hospital even though most of the emergencies women face in the hospital are CAUSED by the doctors and their system that they have in place. Birth is chaotic and does what it wants. Humans want things do go according to steps and timetables. We have this need to try to fit the birth process into our neat little package, but it doesn’t work that way which is why things go wrong.

kmama on

My last child was delivered by a midwife in a hospital. There were complications at the last moment (baby was blue and not breathing) and thankfully, b/c we were in a hospital, the midwife simply hit the panic button in the room and in ran all the medical personnel needed. Baby was immediately taken care of and all ended well. I think the combo of the two is the best, but for me, with both of my births having ended in dramatic, unforseen complications (first child was premature), home birth could have ended in the death of my children.

Julie Leonardo on

Lara-just to let you know, in the movie the older man who criticized the US system was someone to respect. He is a neonatologist, pediatrician, and a perinatal scientist. He practiced and studied the research. To top it off, he was the European head of Women’s and Children’s health of the World Health Organization for years. He still consults for WHO and does speaking engagements. I think he qualifies as someone who has the right to call our system and doctors on the carpet. I just had to address the “calling doctors stupid” remark. He is “one of them” and is appalled by their hubris. The docs aren’t stupid, but they have either been indoctrinated with falsehoods or they are so interested in themselves and their own success that what happens to women and children is less important to them. There are great doctors out there, but they are either scared to blow the whistle or are lone rangers.

Sasha on

seosinger that’s a great point, because hospitals more and more are being dictated, by their insurance companies, not to perform VBACs. This is one of the key reasons for our 30% C-s rate.

Brandi on

Being a wife of an OB/GYN I disagree with Rikki Lake. If a woman chooses to give birth at home then she should but for her(RIKI) to undermine doctors and medical expertise is uncalled for. While my husband was in residency there was a homebirth that resulted in her child’s death. The child was way too big to be born vaginal and while the mother was pushing until the child’s head was lodged in the pelvic area. (If she were at the hospital she would have seen the child was to large to be born vaginal resulting in a c-section and the baby would be alive to this day.)Resulting in the woman having to go straight the hospital with child still between her legs because the midwife did not have the resources there to save the baby’s life. My husband and other doctors had to operate on the lady and remove the baby. The cause of death of the baby was strangulation. The trauma from the so called delivery broke the baby’s neck. Now isn’t that a wonderful memory or wonderful experience for a first time mom to have because she thought a home birth would be a wonderful experience to have. Her next delivery was with the doctor who stood by her side and and made her experience a blessing instead of a nightmare like before.

You can’t predict every delivery so my opinion a hospital delivery is the best due to the fact my last child had the cord wrapped around its neck twice and the doctors responded asap.

Hospital or medical environment is best for your baby.

My husbands practice has 2 midwives who deliver, on a couple occasions my husband had to go in a perform c-sections because mother wouldn’t progress, heart rate dropped and other factors. Being in hospital your baby and mother is being monitored the whole time during labor. Homebirth do not. Only monitoring you get from home births is a heart rate checked I hope every hour and cervical change.

Some celebrities think they are know it alls without the proper education. If Rikki experience that(nightmare) she would be so highly against it. Not seeing the film did she include some home delivery nightmares or just all happy times. Because it can go both ways! You can’t be one sided! When you do a documentary you have to show ALL SIDES!

I’m glad she had safe delivery but not all deliveries are the same or are predictable. So if you want a midwife there, there are some practices who do have midwives but deliver in a medical environment is the beast for you and your baby.

This is also coming from someone who had a talk show that was based on, ” ARE YOU MY BABY”S DADDY?”

Becky on

There is a midwife in the movie that said she delivered 300 children before the first c section was needed. but that ratio is far greater in hospitals, they are like 1 in 4 if not more, so it goes to show that not everyone needs a c section. Yes I agree there are times when a c section is absolutly necassary but not in all cases. Like someone metioned, a c section is a major surgery and hard for your body, if you can deliver without a c section, the better for you, but the hospitals will push c sections so it you will fit into their schedule and they can quickly move on to the next….not to mention, they get a LOT more money for a c section. Makes you think….

rebecca on

i entirely agree that the birthing process is a womens choice. but, you need to know what could happen.with my first daughter i gave birth in a hospital. Everything was perfect until after the placenta delivered,and i hemorrhaged and within minutes i was in a semi coma and went into d.i.c.i was in the i.c.u for the next day and a half getting blood and blood by products. if not for the hosp. i would have died at home! KNOW THE FACTs.dont follow trends. its not imp. enough to leave your family behind cause a celeb said we should do it at home. hospitals are there for a reason and this is the reason we started having babies there…To save our lives too!

ladymama on

Hmmm. Some recent posts are saying home birth is not safe and to “know the facts” without offering documented facts. That’s misleading and inaccurate.

And I don’t think many women are having homebirths because “a celebrity said to” or it’s a “trend.” I don’t know a single woman who has had a homebirth without doing a tremendous amount of research. I would venture that many people look into it because they know someone else who did it and had a positive experience, or because they had a negative hospital birth experience previously.

Jennifer on

Where do many of you live, that you’ve had experiences that cause such disdain for doctors? Doctors spend years in school learning how to properly care for people, and they then further educate themselves on the latest medical updates. Additionally they gain expertise they by performing the same procedures every day.

OBGYNs are experts in their fields. And after spending and continuing to spend so much time educating themselves in order to help others, they get hit with some of the highest malpractice costs. Litigation always causes a trickle-down effect.

Women should be able to have their babies in whatever avenue is best for them. Don’t assume doctors in general are unkind, callous, or greedy. They deserve our respect, just as we deserve theirs if we have a birth plan with which they don’t agree.

jjmom on

“Being in hospital your baby and mother is being monitored the whole time during labor. Homebirth do not. Only monitoring you get from home births is a heart rate checked I hope every hour and cervical change”

But there is no need to be continuously monitored. That is one of the factors in my choice to HB, in most hospitals the moment you come in they attach you to all these machines and you pretty much HAVE to lay in bed. But for a labour to progress naturally mom needs freedom to move, to eat and drink, to change positions as needed, to use gravity to bring the baby down, and laying in bed makes it hurt way more (I did birth my first in a hospital). Even the ACOG says that continuous fetal monitoring does not improve outcomes. It can lead to unnecessary fear and c/s based on normal flucuations.

I birth at home because my experience and my research has led me to a place where I feel my baby and I are safer, and better taken care of. My midwife comes to my home and we have hour long appointments, and in labour she is with me every step of the way.

skunknuggets on

I don’t think it unfairly promotes homebirth, and I doubt many women will be rushing out to have a homebirth simply because Ricki Lake (or anyone else) had one but it may get people thinking about the choices they make during childbirth. Women and babies die at both a hospital and at home, but it should up to women to decide where they feel most comfortable. There should be access to properly trained medical professionals no matter if a woman chooses to birth at home, birth center or hospital.

LolaCola on

I am not sure if someone else has brought this up but what about women who don’t have health insurance? What are their choices? Giving birth in a hospital is very expensive especially if you don’t have health insurance?

Madam Pince on

Women should have a choice about birthing. Home birth is not for every woman or every pregnancy, just as hospitals aren’t for every woman or every pregnancy. I’m personally glad my childbirth took place in a hospital.

pia on

i feel the movie was very well balanced and showed that we need to be informed of the different ways of giving birth.
for some women, there is no option. give birth in the hospital, do everything the doctors say.. that’s it. however, some women feel their birth experience was severely lacking and extremely unsatisfying because of this.

the film showed the director (i think) going into labor, and rushing to the hospital where, for the safety of her child, she had a c-section. it was a success, and everyone was happy.

the movie just showed us, who might otherwise be in the dark, that, yes, sometimes you need serious medical intervention, sometimes you might CHOOSE serious medical intervention… but also you may choose a natural birth at home with qualified midwives. you may choose a birthing center, you may choose a hospital birth without drugs and with a doula.. we, as women have choice. it is in our hands how we labor and deliver our children and the medical profession do not always act in our best interests. that should be known.

i think it’s a brave and beautiful film; informative and moving. we had an evening with our friends to watch it.. 2 of whom were pregnant, and it was eye opening and deemed ‘important’ by one of the pregnant women.

Stephanie Spencer on

I haven’t seen Ricki Lake’s film but I’m amazed that the idea that a woman might give birth at home could cause such a fuss in the US. In the UK the trend is now definitely to encourage women with a low-risk pregnancy to deliver in the comfort of their own home. The statistics, as provided by the medical profession itself, show that homebirth is no more likely to lead to complications with either Mum or baby than a hospital delivery. Obviously it is important that a mother-to-be is aware of any risks involved. However, giving birth in a hospital setting is not completely risk-free. For me, giving birth at home with my third child was certainly a lot more relaxing and less stressful than labouring in hospital. With two midwives attending you throughout labour in this country you actually receive more personal care than on a busy labour ward. Another bonus is that you and the baby avoid picking up other infections which are so easily spread in hospitals. Of course, no woman should feel pressurised into making a choice that she’s not comfortable with. Still, it seems preposterous to me that the US medical profession is seemingly so negative and scare-mongering about a perfectly viable way of giving birth. Full credit to Ricki Lake for showing that birth does not need to be medicalised.

Brandi on

I disagree Becky! Are you a nurse or doctor? Do you actually hear them tell patients “Please have a c-section so I can sleep trough the night.” Many people are asking for c-sections because they don’t want to labor. Or they hear all the celebrities say they have a schedule c-section because they need to do a movie or have plans.

I know for a fact doctors do not like doing c-sections because they know more of the risk than you. That’s what Medical School and residency is for. They go to Medical School for 4 years or to get a Masters 5 years. Then every doctor has to train in a program called residency. OB/GYN is for 4 years, General Surgery and Urology is 6 years. I can name all the all the others too, but I want. Pediatricians only go for 3 years.

So if you have proof like documentation in a patients chart stating ” I preformed a c-section because I wanted to!” Then don’t blast doctors. You don’t know the Hell they endure to get where through where they are today.

In the 1960-1990’s doctors got respect. Now with all the lawyers and insurance doctors get NO kind of respect for everything they do for you as a patient. You all remember that when you are sick or your child is sick. Your going to your doctor not your midwife. If you need surgery for cancer or a broken bone your doctor put in countless hours in residency to the surgery right.

There not hired off the street like McDonald’s! So before any of you all blast the Medical Professions, when you were growing up you never heard your parent disrespect their doctors at all. This society has come to be a bunch of spoiled little kids!

Katie on

I think the film really gave hospitals a negative outlook. I work in a hospital on the OB floor and I for one see quite a few women with natural births. As a matter of fact we had a someone who delivered twins vaginally not to long ago without an epidural. One problem I have with the movie was I didn’t feel like she explained what the medicine was given for for instance Pit (pitocin) is given not only to speed things along but it is also given to control bleeding and the help firm up the fundus (uterus). Or that the pain medicine you can refuse and in most cases is only given upon request. She only focused on the bad things about it. Don’t get me wrong i’m not against home birth at all. I think its a choice for the woman to make I just wish she didn’t use scare tactics about the hospital. My pregnant sister-in-law asked me to watch it because it scared her about having the baby in a hospital and I have to admit that if i didn’t work there after seeing the video I would be a little frightened myself. I know at my hospital we are all very caring to all of our patents and we would never treat them like they are just a number. I have seen both our nursing staff and Doctors Laugh with the patents and i have seen them cry with them also.

nikki on

i am aiming for a homebirth myself in november. i am a firm believer in a woman’s choice and respect her intuition to make the right decision. being pregnant is not a disease and shouldn’t be treated as such. for now, i am taking all the precautions and am ready to make the decision whether or not having a homebirth is right and safe for me. every woman should have that control… not some group of doctors who end up financially benefitting from hospital births. for now, with privatization and corporate greed, the medical system of america is corrupt. and despite the risks of a birth going wrong, world wide statistics of first world countries seem to show that countries who support homebirth over hospital births have a higher success rate of health and survival versus us, a country obsessed with fear and succumbers of the fear instilled upon us by those who profit off of it. i will go to a hospital if i ever feel i need to. it’s not even the government, no organization should take this freedom from us and the moment the “H” word spills from your mouth at the doctor’s office, the doctor swears you will be abandoned if you do so. what the hell sort of society is this that we don’t support each other. it’s either their way or your screwed? So much for the Bible, so much for the Constitution, so much for love thy neighbor and support our fellow American. This is not patriotism. This is not humane. Where have all the good doctors gone?

Katie on

Sasha, the reason that many insurnace companies won’t approve coverage for a vbac is that the perinatal death rate for vbacs is higher than for repeat c-sections. Is either rate actually high? No, but most insurance companies will choose the option with the chance of less complications and successful outcome, and therefore less money.

I hope if any of you run into a situation where you, your spouse, or your child is in serious need of medical attention, you’ll be able to put aside your disdain for medical professionals and seek help.

BTW, most doctors actually support a single payer national insurance plan, rather than multi-payer private companies that are more likely to pay out more money, because, gasp, they care about people, even the uninsured. Also, more and more, doctors are leaving the OB part of OB/GYN out because of the astronomical rate of malpractice insurnace. So attributing this to greed is all misguided.

Even so, I very much support a woman’s right to birth at home, whenever possible. But please, please, show the same support for women who make a different choice. We’re not brainwashed, we’re not uneducated or misinformed, we just know what’s right for OUR bodies and OUR child, just like you.

esperanza on

Lol at how hype ppl are getting. I don’t think anyone is disputing the intelligence of doctors, I think they’re saying that midwives are experts too. Expertise doesn’t just come in the form of a degree from medical school, it also comes from experience. Also, mothers die in hospital births all the time. I know of someone who contracted a Staph infection after giving birth and died two days after her baby was born.

JR on

Brandi, I have a friend who is currently a medical doctor and is doing her residency in OB in a large hospital in a major U.S. city. She has told me that (1) she can see how much better the natural births in the birth center are for moms and babies, but she decided against midwifery/helping her patients have natural births because she doesn’t have the patience to wait for a natural birth; and (2) she loves OB because she loves performing surgery, and she would rather do a c/s than not on every woman. She also said that she was taught during rotations and residency that birth is an emergency waiting to happen, and that the more you intervene, the safer it is (really, the safer it feels, whether it really is safer or not). She conceded that c-sections pose additional risk, but to someone trained as a doctor, they “feel” safer because the doctor has more control over the situation. Doing a c-section is the ultimate intervention and many OBs feel much more comfortable just doing a c/s than waiting for, watching, and medically “managing” a vaginal birth.

So while I’m not a nurse or doctor myself, my best friend is and has said all of the above to me. She has also said that the nice thing is that if you induce a patient early in the morning and she isn’t progressing enough w/pit etc. by afternoon you can do a c/s and just go home. A lot of OBs (not all, but many) actually do practice this way. It’s probably not what they would tell their patients, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have these practices/attitudes when they’re doing their jobs.

Shannon on

I have to say I have not seen this movie but I feel like people are being very negative about drs. I had twins recently and had planned on having a c-section most of the time. Finally when my water broke 2 months early while being on “hospital” and home bed rest (the best things for both me and my children) I went to the hospital where they ENCOURAGED me to go with a vaginal delivery. I feel like most people are saying what negative experiences they had but I’m trying to figure out how having your child is negative no matter where you have them? Nothing was a better experience then seeing my two babies. They both were in respiratory distress and I think heavens for my dr. and nurses. Then again, kudos for those of you who deliver at home!!!

Elizabeth on

For those getting all up in a tizzy defending OBs, I’d like to hear your rationalization of standard obstetric care – and please make it evidence-based. That was Ricki Lake’s whole point: obstetrics is NOT an evidence-based field and historically never has been.

So what is the justified rationale for:
-keeping women in prone positions, even though continuous monitoring does not statistically improve outcomes and not moving effectively can cause malpresentation/malpositioning
-routine cervical checks (which serve to introduce bacteria into an environment that should never have seen it in the first place)
-pitocin augmentation of labor (which causes stress on the baby/does not allow time to mould/engage/descend as effectively, not to mention cuts off oxygen to the baby causing those decels and distress), much less a “TIME LIMIT” on labor
-induction, especially prior to 42 weeks
-“big baby” fears, though dystocia can and does occur with babies of any size
-the denial of food and drink to laboring women enduring one of the most strenuous physical activites they ever will
-directed pushing (though a drugged woman may need it)
-episiotomies (which actually do not prevent tearing)

Etc. Etc. Etc. Ricki’s movie goes into the mistakes obstetrics made in the past, twilight sleep, thalidamide – and how we really *don’t* know the long-term effects of the standard birth protocol now. What if they discover that it’s actually pitocin causing autism? They don’t know!

Birth IS a natural physiological event. It is not a medical emergency or an illness. Pregnant women are not stupid, helpless or fragile – and that is how my OB treated me. They pooh poohed the idea of doing it natural…so I pooh poohed them when I gave birth to my daughter at home under the watchful eye of midwives. Emergency obstetric care is a godsend to those who need it but the WHOLE FIELD of obstetrics needs to be reevaluated to be woman and baby-friendly and evidence-based…

I’m seriously curious as to how many women whose doctors “saved the day” during a birth emergency had an unobstructed, natural labor with no drugs, no augmentation, no amniotomy, no induction, birthing in a position of their choice while well-nourished and the like…because every single intervention interrupts the flow of giving birth and is a perversion of normal. A pervision of a baby’s attempt to engage and navigate the birth canal as they have for millenia. While true emergencies do occur, I’m sure they are nowhere near the figure presented when so-called “MANAGED” birth is factored in. Women need to start listening to their own intuition, trusting their bodies and put a stop to dangerous, unscientific interventions being done in the name of “quality medical care”.

Are a full one-third of women in this country unable to birth vaginally? It seems as though we would have died out a long time ago if that were the case.

So defend obstetrics as a gift to women everywhere but please do provide evidence-based research that supports the interventions that are standard practice today when done in a low-risk pregnancy. I’d like to see it — and that is Ricki Lake’s point. I’d like to see how many low-risk pregancies become suddenly high risk after medical intervention. The evidence isn’t there and women are buying that abuse as “normal” hook, line and sinker. It is horrific.

Sasha on


I wrote that our 30% c-section rate is partly due to insurance companies dictating that hospitals not perform VBACs. You responded that this is because the neonatal death rate for VBACs is higher than that for repeat c-sections.

Then you said that you hope “all of you” who ever needed medical attention would hopefully put aside your “distain” for medical professionals. If my statement connotated a lack of respect for medical professionals, I apologize. I’m going to take the high road here. I wanted to help explain part of the reason, as I have read it, for the 30% U.S. c-s rate.

Katie on

Sasha, only the first part of my post was directed towards you. It was more of an add-on to what you were saying, explaining why hospitals and insurance companies will not cover a vbac.

Elizabeth, sorry to hear you had a negative experience with your OB. But the tone of your post is why people in this thread have gone about defending the care they have received by their OB’s, because you speak of your experience and seem to discount people who have had a different experience . My OB spoke to me several times about trying to have an unmedicated birth because he felt it was the best way to go. I told him I wasn’t ready for that, and we were able to meet somewhere in the middle. He listened to me, and I listened to him. I don’t have one friend who has felt taken advantage of by her doctor.

JR, it sounds like your friend shouldn’t be in medicine at all, since it’s not really the people she is concerned about. I married into a family of doctors and as a result, am surrounded by them and their friends a good chunk of the time, and not one of them is anything close to that in their attitude towards their patients.

Sasha on

Thanks for your kind reply, Katie. It’s heartening to hear examples of positive hospital births. They seem to often be characterized by consistent, satisfactory dialogue and planning between the mom and her health care provider. I believe that a good birth experience does benefit the baby, as well as the mother. The quick response time available in the hospital in response to potential sudden birth emergencies tips the scale towards me birthing in a hospital. My biggest issue with hospitals is the lithotomy position. That has just never made a lick of sense to me.

Kristen on

I have seen the movie three times now, and even bought a copy of the DVD for myself. That movie is about women’s choices in childbirth. It is about being educated so that you can make the right choice for you.
I thought I was educated last time, I chose a midwife in the hospital and hired a doula. Then I was told flat out by an OB that worked with my midwife that I should have a c-section (for a “big” baby, prior to labor), because he was afraid that if something went wrong, I would sue him!!
Next time I am going to smarten up and choose a homebirth midwife.

Jamie on

Many people think homebirth sounds scary when they first learn about it. What if something goes wrong? But the data show that homebirth IS just as safe or safer than hospital births. If hospitals and OBs used evidence-based medicine, they would probably be a safe option too. But they do not follow evidence-based practices and it shows in their statistics.

If hospital births were safer, and 99% of women gave birth in a hospital in the US, then our childbirth statistics would be on par with the rest of the industrialized nations in the world. Why are we doing SO badly? Why do all of the industrialized nations that have better childbirth statistics have midwives as the primary care providers for low-risk women and use OB’s for high-risk women AND have a large percentage of homebirths. MOST of the time, birth is safest when it is interrupted the least. There is something about messing with a laboring women that causes labor to progress in a less-safe way. OB’s and hospitals ARE killing women and babies or else they would have the lowest infant and maternal mortality among all industrialized nations. This is not rocket science. Something has gone wrong in the US. The data is showing that OBs are not the best people to handle a normal birth. They are highly-trained surgeons and should handle the high-risk women like they do in other industrialized nations.

I am a doula and have seen some horrible, irresponsible treatment of women in hospitals. TBoBB portrays hospital birth just like it is in many hospitals. I would not have a homebirth to be trendy or to simply have a good experience. I have done my research and seen some scary examples and know that the place that I am safest is at home. It took some time and research for me to come to this conclusion. At first, I wondered if a homebirth would be safe. I understand that some women would not feel safe at home. It is the only place I would feel safe. All women should give birth where they feel safest.

In addition to TBoBB, check out Pushed by Jennifer Block and Born in the USA by Marsden Wagner. Tons of research is cited in each of those books.

Brandi on

Dear JR,

You may speak for your friend but YOUR BEST FRIEND does not represent all the doctors in the US so if this is her way of practicing then so be it. This is your best friend saying this not all the doctors of the US! So if your friend is already showing signs of distressed and seeing being a doctor a job and not a privilege and not to see the the happiness a baby brings into a families eye then I feel sorry for her or she did her residency in a negative environment.

I’m not going after you or your friend being a wife of an OB/GYN and working in the medical field this is very personal due to the fact they are degrading doctors and hospitals ability to take care of patients.
Women may choose anywhere to delivery and when they do I’m sure they will be responsible and research it out. Not every delivery is predictable. The healthiest person can have something go wrong in a split second that can result in serious consequences.

jjmom on

I don’t think the trend is turning against doctor’s per say, it is simply that we live in an age where we have more information at our finger tips. We can read and research and make decisions based on what is best for ourselves and our families. I respect those who respect me. Having an MD does not automatically mean I have to respect a person. There are good and bad doctors, and gone are the days where the doctors word is law.

medical professional on

i’m sorry but delivering a baby at home is reckless. what if any of the myriad of complications develop, threatening the life of mom or baby, little hard to do anything about it at your home. the comment that babies have been born at home for centuries is especially irresponsible. whiskey used to be used as an anesthetic………that wasn’t a good idea either

Ash on

medical professional-

You sound ridiculous.

Renee on

Medical professional, huh?

Dahlia on

I think OBs are fearing for their jobs. That’s all that’s behind the AMA’s statement. There is no study that shows homebirth is more dangerous than hospital birth, and a few that actually show that it is safer. There is no evidence behind the AMA’s claims.

Sasha on

The Center for Disease control website recently released infant death data (gathered from birth certificate data from 2003-2004) for folks wanting to do research. There are lots of search parameters available. http://wonder.cdc.gov/lbd-icd10.html

Sam on

My daughter died under a doctor’s care (or lack thereof) on her due date *in* the hospital following a prostaglandin induction. I had an OB who supposedly specialized in high risk pregnancies (which I was). My baby was perfectly healthy, and very much alive when I went in to have her. A doctor was responsible for her death. I’m all for home birth as long as there are no pre-existing issues, and a backup plan in place. Doctors aren’t all they’re cracked up to be….


Cara on

Here Here Elizabeth. Well said.

And medical professional- as a fellow medical professional, I would urge you to do your research. Homebirth is just as safe as a hospital birth for low-risk women and is also shown to reduce the amount of medical interventions needed or used during and after delivery (See British Medical Journal study on North American midwives from 2005). As has been said over and over, certified professional midwives are educated,trained and licensed in about 20 states around the country. They are required to keep their certification current and they know how to identify and deal with obstetric emergencies. They also know how and when to transfer care to the hospital if necessary. Fetal monitoring is part of their care. Emergency equipment for neonatal resuscitation is part of their care. Medications for postpartum hemorrhage are part of their care. Midwives are experts in normal vaginal birth and they have a safety and outcome record for moms and babies to prove this.

Maddie on

I have no children, but a number of women in my family (including my mum – twice) have had home births, and all have used midwifes, as that is the norm here in New Zealand (70 – 80% of births are attended solely by midwifes, with no doctor present).
My mum always remebers how nice it was to deliever at home. You had your own bed, bath etc and was overall more comfortable than a hospital. I thought The Business of Being Born was a truly remarkable film, that looks at the current birth care options in the United States. This movie may have been partial to home birth and midwifes, but it was in order to give women more options and control over their births – to open their eyes about the health care system. It may not simply be for the ‘good of the baby,’ but for the good of thier wallets and convience of the doctors. I thik the movie was very correct when it pointed out there is a culture of fear around natural birth and birth in general. The thing that concerned me was that alot of C sections were being done unneccesarily.
When I have children, there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll have a midwife, although I may feel safer in a hospital with my first.

Sasha on

Sam I am so sorry for your loss.

Natasha on

No. I saw the movie & I think it’s just shedding light on the least chosen delivery method of home birth. I felt it was educational. It didn’t change my mind about having a hospital delivery.

Sarah Jelmeland on

I posted earlier and have gone back and read further responses that I feel I need to remark upon.

Medical Professional: I wonder what profession you are in and if you have ever watched or given a non-augmented (no pit, no epidural) vaginal birth? Or if you can define why home birth is reckless? If you specify a little bit more maybe then we can all understand where/why you are saying it is reckless.

Midwives that I know have gone through a rigorous training for four years plus several years as an apprentice. They know how to turn breech babies and/or will allow a mom to push her own baby out. Which I did with my twins. My son was a frank breech that I caught, and my daughter was a posterior footling.

If I had been in a hospital this would have been grounds for an automatic c-section, only because they couldn’t be sure of what would happen. I had no worries about me delivering my breech twins. I knew my midwives could do a version, or facilitate my babies in coming out! Which wound up happening with my daughter.

I wish that Dr’s and midwives could work in a more symbiotic relationship, but that would defeat the purpose of the AMA. Oh wait Holland does that. A midwife takes care of all of the pre-natals and only sends them on to a DR if truly medically needed! Why can’t America, where we are free citizens and can make up our own mind of what will and won’t work for us, do something similar? Why does it always have to be all or nothing? Why is money the definer of our choices?

I respect decisions for either c-sections, birth center, or home births. But YOU, should make the decision. The decision of where and how YOU give birth should not be dictated by anyone. Whether or not enough information was given by all sides ind the documentary there was much that the AMA and ACOG would not respond on when they were given the opportunity to do so. If they are having issues with how they are being portrayed then they need to come forward and give the information that is requested.

Martha on

I almost had my baby at home… which it should have been a perfect experience!
I’m plannning on having my next one at home… And it’s true, as soon as you come to the hospital, nurses and doctors try to brainwash you and push narcotics and what not into your labor…

Marc on

I’m 35 and my Dad was born in 1928 in a house via a midwife. This is how MOST people in the HISTORY OF THE WORLD have been born. Birth is NOT an “illness” that one needs to be hospitalized for.

My Dad was also pissed that the medical industry pushed and harrased him and his wife to circumcise his sons. My father was uncut, and my parents had NEVER thought of doing it. The docs in the 70’s pushed and pushed and harrassed and guilted my mother into relenting. She regrets it now, and I RESENT like hell that this was done to the most personal part of MY BODY without my knowledge or consent, and my father was NEVER cool with it.

Does anyone know why we are one of the ONLY countries to still practice large scale genital mutilation of baby boys? Docs get to charge for it AND the hospital SELLS the foreskins to biomedical companies!…


BILLIONS of Asians have been born while their moms were working in the rice patties! Birth is a natural process, NOT an illness and foreskins are a natural part of a mans anatomy NOT a birth defect.

The things that the American corporate health care scheme have convinced Americans of is shameful!

Dominique on

AMA showed physicians’ insecurity of losing their market share in the ‘business of being born’ by attacking Ricki’s documentary, which merely shows the beauty and possibility of safe homebirth or natural childbirth in a non-hospital setting.

I applaud Ricki’s effort in putting this issue in the limelight.
The AMA and the medical community need to spend more time improving the quality of service they provide in hospitals for childbirth, opening more birthing center inside hopsitals, giving women choices in childbirth, helping women feel comfortable and respected in their most vulnerable time – when they are in labor, rather than criticising Ricki’s work by their usual scare tactics. The high mortality rate in childbirth in US today are from hospital birth, not home birth.

bee on

it should be every woman’s choice where to birth, not a madate from a medical board, this is why i live here, the freedom to live my life the way i feel is right.

ruth malik on

The rights of the women who wants homebirth is the issue here not hospitals if you wnat a medical birth you can have it easy! for those of us who wnat home its not so easy or available. I dont want all those drugs in me or my kids.

Olivia on

Brandi: You do not know how all doctors in the U.S. feel either. Just because your husband is a doctor does not mean you know everything about how all doctors operate.

Sandra Bieneeck on

I am a RN in labor and delivery and a mother of two. Let me begin by saying I support home births when they are appropriate. This is not always the case. I enjoyed watching Ricki Lakes documentary until I saw her own tub birth. My experienced eye immediately noticed that her son was in distress. Fortunately, the baby transitioned well. My concern about the documentary is that it is wholly one sided. How can this be entitled a documentary when it doesn’t tell the entire story? Cara Mulhahn, the “midwife” featured in the movie is actually not a midwife at all. She is an RN practicing on her own without the benefit of a collaborating doctor or a backup hospital. In fact she recently allowed a laboring women to stay home in labor for 3 days. When her husband finally asked for help she simply told him that there is no such thing as “too long” when in labor. That infant was stillborn. Ricky Lake has failed to answer the press or comment on this tragedy. She is suddenly silent. Yes this could have happened during a hospital birth but in this case not likely. If the child was alive at the onset of labor and for 3 whole days, it probably would have still been alive following a c-section delivery. Reports are that the cord was wrapped tightly around the neck. Hospital monitors (much criticized) would have foreseen the that there was a cord around the neck. Interventions may have and probably would have helped the baby survive. More importantly, if the tragedy had occurred during a hospital birth, the parents would potentially had the piece of mind knowing that they all that they could. For the rest of their lives they will have to ask themselves “what if?” Is it really worth it? As a parent do we really want to ask that questions of ourselves? I grieve for them.

For the women who desire a home birth I say: please do your homework, find someone who is credentialed, ask about their emergency plan, how quickly can you get to a hospital if something goes wrong? Do not attempt a home birth if the baby is breech, Cara Mulhahn brags that she will do this for you and she brags that she will do vaginal births after c-section (VBAC) at home. This is extremely dangerous! Before considering it, research the risks yourself. Don’t just take her word for it. Interview many OB’s and ask their policies on pitocin, epidural, IV’s etc. You will be surprised to learn that if you are truly a candidate, you can have the birth experience you hoped for (even in a hospital). We spend so much time googling and researching so much in our lives but when Ricki Lake produces a movie people begin to reject what hospitals offer. Don’t dismiss the possibility of a birthing center run by midwives. They give you the same loving care of a midwife assisted birth but there is a plan in place for emergencies. Just because women have been doing if for years without interventions doesn’t mean that we have to do it now. We learn from the past and seek to improve in our futures.

To the women who have successfully had a home birth I say congratulations. You are to be commended for your strength, endurance and commitment to what you believe. Please support your friends in whatever way they choose to have their babies. All women are to be honored for bringing forth a new perfect life.

To the women who cannot have home births or vaginal deliveries I say: don’t grieve! Embrace the blessings of your new baby and enjoy him/her. Don’t allow someone to make you feel as though you failed, or you are less capable of loving your child because you chose, or had to choose a different path. Isn’t the whole point to have a healthy baby to love? Congratulations to you as well.
As for the business end of things (as the title of the documentary suggests). I am passionate about the work that I do and the service I provide. I have hundreds of thank you notes, and baby pictures from the families I have helped over the years. I do however, deserve to make a living and provide for my family. To suggest that health care providers are all about the mighty dollar is not fair to me or the wonderful doctors I have come to know and love. Please note that the midwife in the film is probably making A LOT of money. I don’t know what she charges but her clients live in Manhattan and I am guessing they pay cash. I say this because if she is not a certified midwife, then I expect that she cannot charge your health insurance for her service. This also explains why she doesn’t have malpractice insurance..nobody will cover her. She therefore has the ability to charge any fee she wants to since she is not hindered by insurance caps. I wonder how much of what she does is about business?

It may not appear so, but I want to repeat that I do support home births. It can be a beautiful thing when all goes well. I hope that as we move forward women will continue to advocate for themselves and thus have the best birthing experience possible.