CBB Talks to Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein About Your Best Birth, Part 1

06/25/2009 at 08:00 AM ET

Former talk show host Ricki Lake drew praise and criticism for her documentary, The Business of Being Born. Now, together with Abby Epstein, her documentary partner, the mom of two is releasing a book, Your Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience.

In part 1 of the interview, Ricki and Abby spoke to us about their film and their new book. In part 2, which runs tomorrow, they spoke to us about the accompanying new social networking site, mybestbirth.com, their next film and answered CBB reader questions!

Celebrity Baby Blog: Tell us how The Business of Being Born came about.

Abby Epstein: [The film came] out of Ricki’s passion for shedding some light on this childbirth information that’s sorely inaccessible and unavailable to most women. I actually thought we were pretty tame in the film considering some of the information we found, because it’s pretty horrible what’s going on now in a lot of hospitals.

Since we released the film, we’ve had so many upsetting emails from women all over the country who are so traumatized by their experiences giving birth. A lot of them don’t even realize they were abused or disempowered through the experience in some way until it’s long over. Something sparked it, and all of a sudden they realized they didn’t even know they had these options.

We started doing screenings all around the country, and it was clear how much misinformation there was, and how much more the cause needed to be illuminated.

Ricki, The Business of Being Born has really given you the reputation of being this gung-ho pro-homebirther. Would you say that’s a fair assessment?

Ricki Lake: My documentary was very much about my personal journey and the women we followed, and it weighed more heavily on natural births, and midwife-assisted births. I think it was balanced in that Abby ended up having an emergency, necessary C-section with an obstetrician, so it had a point of view.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m judging them for choices that they make. I’m not God or pretending to be anyone who knows better than anyone else. I’m the lay person who had this experience herself, and had the need for people to start the discussion about the issue. I consider myself to be “pro-choice” in this deal, not even “pro-natural birth.” That was my choice, but it’s not the right choice for a lot of people and I recognize that, and don’t judge anyone for making any choice they make in this area. I don’t want anyone to walk away thinking I have expectations of anybody.

Abby: There’s a gray area: lots of people saw the film, had the epidural and had their OB, went with their birth plan, but avoided a C-section after seeing the movie. They weren’t afraid to speak up about methods, timing, or the baby’s health. That’s a big part of this.

The great thing about having a midwife in the hospital is that she can recommend other options, like an epidural. Then the epidural becomes just a really helpful extension. You have care with a provider who’s coming from a philosophy where they believe in you and your body, and your ability to give birth on your own – and that is so huge! A lot of OBs don’t believe women can give birth without epidurals and that the process is dangerous and requires intervention. So having a provider whose general philosophy is that this is a physiological natural body process that most women can do unassisted, is a huge place to start.

I can tell you that the book and films have changed my life, and I’m sure you’ve heard that from so many people!

Ricki: I never get tired of hearing that. I feel like it started a little movement, and I never imagined that would happen. I really feel that when I started my own research in 1997, and saw Ina May [Gaskin, who is known as the pioneer of modern midwifery] speak for the first time, I didn’t think anyone cared – or that my friends cared – about giving birth as drug-free as possible. But to see that people are interested and passionate about it, and want to do it differently next time, it’s really a great feeling.

Abby, you became pregnant while shooting the film. Where were you on intervention-free birth and homebirth before you started filming?

Abby: I was absolutely not interested in it, would never have explored it, had no idea what a midwife was. I knew Ricki because she was my friend – I knew she had the homebirth – but I was really uninterested in hearing about it, and I thought she was crazy. So for me, it was completely shut out. Then she gave me Ina May’s book, and then I was like, “Oh okay, well wait a minute. This is an empowerment issue.” So that’s how I came into it – as a filmmaker interested in women’s issues and empowerment issues. So when I read the book and realized there were all these other levels to it, then I started getting interested as a filmmaker.

For me, one of the turning points was attending people’s births. The first birth that I went to was a homebirth, and I was kind of freaking out – it was hardcore! I’d never seen a birth in my life, and the first was in someone’s apartment and I don’t really deal well with blood. But it was such an incredible experience, so simple and so natural.

Me watching Ricki give birth in her bathtub on camera, that was a huge part of me wanting to make this film. Back in the day when birth was really something that women got to see all the time, you attended your sister’s birth and people were around and there. Those were the doulas; that’s who got you through. And now that we’ve kind of lost that connection and women don’t see birth anymore, I think that’s a huge piece of why we’re so afraid of it – we only see it on television in this very frightening way.

So as soon as I started attending births and seeing other women do it, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, I could do this. Ricki could do it, I can do it!” So it just changes you completely.

Abby, you mentioned on The Today Show that your partner was more into natural childbirth than you?

Abby: He was sure I could do it – I didn’t change my mind until about 32 weeks. I was going to be in Roosevelt Hospital with my OB. I was thinking a hospital or birth center. So I didn’t switch to homebirth until the end. He was shooting the film, so he was there for all the births with me, filming them. He was having the same experience I was, seeing how amazing the homebirths were.

He’s from Brazil, and it’s one of the worst countries in terms of birth systems. We filmed there for both movies, and if you can believe it, Rio de Janeiro actually has a 93 percent C-section rate. So in Brazil it’s like, if you have money you have a C-section, period.

Even if you’re planning to have a hospital birth with drugs and typical interventions, some of the doctors in the film come off as very arrogant.

Abby: The Business of Being Born was just tame compared to what we could’ve put out there. We have some really, really damning footage and some terrible quotes. A lot of these doctors don’t even care that they’re being filmed, or that they have anything to hide. This is the way they do birth, they’re proud of it and believe in it.

You can even see some of it on A Baby Story. Once you’re enlightened, then watch the show, you see how arrogant and condescending these doctors are to the women. But if you don’t know the other side of it and you watch those shows, you just think, “Oh the doctor is right! She must really need that C-section right now.” But if you know your stuff and watch those shows, it’s horrible! Half the time these women don’t need to be induced and who knows why they are. Then the doctor comes in and says they’re not progressing or dilating, like it’s the woman’s fault. Well, she wasn’t even ready to give birth! You are trying to put her into labor. So all those shows, if you really know what’s going on, you’ll see it.

There’s such a power disparity. The medical world has so much power that you don’t question or challenge – you only do what’s right for the health of the baby. They can use cervidil in hospitals because it’s cheap. When we were filming at one hospital in Brooklyn, I remember the nurses said, “They’re just pushing us to use the cytotec, and we don’t like it – it’s really powerful.” It’s not like a drug you can tone down in an IV – it’s a pill that dissolves. So once it’s in your cervix dissolving, you can’t scale it back. It’s just a very crude drug. You should never let anyone induce you with cytotec, ever.

And how did the book, Your Best Birth, come about?

Abby: So we decided to write the book and make it non-controversial, but a must-read for every single woman who is going to have a baby. It doesn’t matter if you already know you want to have a C-section, or are looking for a natural or homebirth, but it’s just a book of what every woman needs to know about how to get her best birth. That’s how the book came about. It’s a topic I think so few people are really talking about it publicly, and there’s so little advocacy going on in a public way, so we thought we can’t really get off the birth train just yet because we seem to be having a really big impact.

How is the book different from the film?

Ricki: The book is more about empowering women to make sure they make the best decision for them, whatever it is. I want to be very clear that I’m not telling people what to do.

It’s really encouraging to meet these doctors – both old and young – who have a really great philosophy that’s much more midwife-friendly, and not even natural-birth-focused, but treating women in a way that they’re not just a doctor. They don’t train young residents to learn the art of birthing. They don’t train them to do forceps delivery anymore, so it’s really based on a C-section, which is what you’re going to do anytime there are complications.

As far as turning the baby, and those kinds of things, they’re not being taught like they were when others went to school. We’re losing natural birth in the hospital system. But once you get to these residents, even those that aren’t planning to be OBs, and you show them the film and they see a natural birth, for some the first time, it can help in forming their skills and show how important it is to have that kind of positive experience.

I feel like at this point I know of more celebrities who have had homebirths than friends who have done the same.

Ricki: A lot of celebrities are happy to talk about it now! It seems that there’s a resurgence of people who’ve done it. Cindy Crawford has been incredibly generous with her time, and speaks candidly about her experience [with her homebirths]. Christy Turlington Burns gave birth in a birth center, and Laila Ali and Kellie Martin [had natural births] in hospitals.

— Danielle

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , News

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fuzibuni on

Ricki Lake is a heroine to me. I had my eyes opened by her documentary and am happy to hear that there is another one now.

It is really important that women know their options and make decisions for themselves in the birthing process. The more knowledge the better!

Thank you RIcki!

Shelby on

I just watched the documentary a couple of weeks ago and was really impressed; it was clear to me the amount of research and dedication Ricki put into the film. I’m only 21 and do not have any intentions of being pregnant for probably another 5 years or so but I have definitely changed my mind about hospitals and birthing. I was never a huge fan of the idea of being hooked up in a hospital, ridden on pitocin and giving birth. Then, I saw her movie and was reminded of how beautiful and natural birth is and can be. Obviously, the decision is each person’s opinion and choice and I know that some of us may disagree but for myself personally, it was eye opening. I’ll have to pick this book up as well! Thanks Ricki~

dlock on

I loved the movie, I love getting information on birth. Now that I myself will be expecting a baby in 7 months, I have plenty of time to read Your Best Birth a few times to really absorb the info. I think Riki Lake and team did an excellent job on putting this out there. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Julia on

I am from the Netherlands, so I am not quite sure what her book is about, but in my opinion home births without painremedy are the best way to go. I had a boy 6 months ago and his birth was a great experience, cosy in my own house. I think that in other country’s (like America) it is too easy to get a epidurail or c-section. If there is no medical reason, any woman should be able to give birth the natural way, it is supposed to hurt.

Janna on

These women ARE heroes, because they want women to be aware of ALL of their options. I think no one would argue that a “natural” birth is the ideal, but that the unexpected can happen and if it does, there are alternatives to keep mom and baby safe.

It’s your body, ladies.

Amanda on

I agree with Ricki and Abby that women need to be more educated and empowered and involved in the decisions regarding their births. While I was educated (my mother was a labor and delivery nurse as well as a Lamaze instructor) I still had a great deal of my power taken away during my first two labor and deliveries.

I was a high-risk pregnancy (all 3 times) and so I had no option but to be delivered by an OB. Thus, several decisions were made for me by the hospital “rules” and procedures. I think this will always bother me and I hope to help my daughters have more satisfying births.

But, my third delivery was an emergency c-section, and oddly enough it was during this experience that I felt most cared for and nurtured by the staff. My doctors held my hands during the epidural/spinal, the nurses comforted me and explained everything the whole time. Despite the circumstances, they made me feel taken care of and I was thrilled with the experience.

Women need more choice, more control, and they should educate themselves fully on all aspects of labor and delivery. At the very least, we are grown-women and should take responsibility for what happens to us and our children-and not rely 100% on anyone elses opinions. (yes-doctors are experts but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get 2nd opinions)

fergette on

Thank you Ricki! I loved the movie and will certainly be reading this book!

Anon on

I am 38 weeks along, having complications requiring c-section (was preparing to deliver non-medicated in a birth center with midwives and a doula). This film has been helpful in seeing that Abby had to have a C after all too, and it wasn’t the end of the world.

Becky on

First off…congrats dlock! Exciting times!

If any of you have netflix and want to see the movie, you can watch it instantanously online at netflix.com.

I love the fact that they aren’t pushing natural homebirths on you and dont look down on people for not doing that. They show you all aspects and options and want you to choose what’s right for you and just open your eyes to everything because most women don’t know all the options they have. They are empowering woman, opening their eyes and trying to put the birthing process back in your hands, instead of the doctor’s. It is YOUR birthing experience and should be your choice how to do it. Such an eye opening movie! I loved it and will definetly be picking up the book! Thank you for a wonderful interview! Can’t wait for part 2, tomorrow.

Danna on

Ricki is the reason my last two kids were water births as opposed to the first two being regular hospital bed births. And she is the absolute reason my last one was a home water birth. Her documentary helped me believe in the safety of a well-educated, experienced midwife with the availability of a hospital nearby for an emergency. My husband even watched the factual parts of the documentary (he could do without the examples & births, haha), & he was 100% behind me as we went full circle from Baby One being an induced, hospital birth to Baby Four being a home, water birth.

What a neat & treasured evolving to have personally experienced, & I really credit Ricki entirely.

dlock on

Thank you Becky, very well said. And to all the women very well said and good points everyone has made. I love having the knowledge to have the power. I just can’t say enough about this movement.

christie on

I have 34 weeks along with my first child and am anticipating using an epidural during birth. I have looked into this film and frankly, it makes me feel like a horrible mom for wanting an epidural. I have had many people around me critisize my decision and this film hurts me even more…

Jo on

I had an epidural with my daughter- you shouldn’t beat yourself up for wanting one. Giving birth is not a contest, you need to do what you feel is best.

Gingi on

Personally, to each his/her own.

I knew that I wanted to avoid a c-section at all costs but I also knew that my desire for a medicated, vaginal birth would not trump my desire to have healthy babies. I discussed this with my doctor at length and *together* we came with with a birth plan that we were both comfortable with. The doctor-patient relationship should be a partnership and not adversarial. There is something wrong if you can spread your legs for a doctor but not feel comfortable discussing your birth plans.

I will never forget the advice my mom gave to me, and I have shared it with may people over the years: no matter how you chose to give birth, the reward is still the same . . .a healthy baby. What is more important?

And yes, I’ve seen the movie.

Gingi on

Having seen the movie, I would like to learn more about Abby’s birth experience and the problems that ensued with her son. It wasn’t entirely clear in the film (at least for me), but I know she went into labor early, needed an emergency c/s and that her son with in the NICU for a while. I think her story could bring a new dimension to the conversation.

If that’s already been discussed here please let me know. Apologies in advance.

Michelle on

I saw the documentary a few months after my second child was born. He was premature and I really mourned the fact that I didn’t get to experience a homebirth. My first child was born in a hospital and I didn’t want to repeat that experience. Now that I’m expecting our third (surprise!) baby soon one of the benefits is getting another shot at a home waterbirth. I’ll probably watch the documentary again and I’ll definitely be reading the book. When I was pregnant with my first I thought those who wanted homebirths were just crazy hippies. Honestly! It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I understood why someone would want to give birth outside of a hospital. I then found out how many ‘real’ women do homebirths and love it.

Becky on

Christie – as I mentioned above, I love the movie and love the fact it just shows you the choices we have and teach us about each option. On that note, I didn’t feel swayed one way or another. I had an epidural when I had my daughter and felt like it was right for me, even after watching this movie, since I didn’t feel like it pushes homebirths down your throat, just teaches you about everything. I think everyone will get something different out of this movie. For me, it was the high (scary) rate of c-sections. I know that some births do require a c-section and am so happy that we are advanced enough to have that ability, I am just concerned with the amount of elective c-section that could harm you and your child when it is not midically required. The on-call doctor that delivered my daughter, tried to give me a c-section because she hadn’t dropped enough and I was at a 9, but I told him I would rather not. After speaking to my actual doctor (who couldn’t make it to the birth) she had me lay in a position in between on my belly and on my side for an hour and what do you know? Turns out she was stuck on my pelvis and laying like that made her drop down and was ready to push. If I hadn’t of seen that movie and didn’t question the need for a c-section, I would have had a c-section when not needed. It was just quick for them to get her out then instead of having me lay like that for an hour. How many people put their lives (literally) in their doctor’s hands and trust every single thing they say? I know I did and if he said c-seciton, I would have said let’s go, but because of the movie I knew chances are I didn’t NEED one, they just didn’t want to give me the time to let my body do it on it’s own. Always in a rush. It really saddens me that he would have given me a c-section instead of giving me an hour for my baby to come down on her own. But anyway…I know I went off track and wrote way more than I meant to, but the whole point was….even watching that movie and loving it, I had an epidural. I didn’t even try to go drug free. And I did not feel guilty about it. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it as long as it was your choice and it was what was right for you and not someone telling you this is what you need to do. I have 3 sisters and one of my sisters and myself had epidurals with each birth, another sister had c-sections, only because medically she needed to, and the other sister had 2 natural births, one at home and one in the hospital. It is what we chose and no one is treated differently because of their birthing method. We each have our own wonderful experiences.

Liv on

I love the positive comments. Becky-love your story. I could have written almost the exact same thing that shelby wrote. I watched the movie(on netflix) about a month ago and loved it. When I have children my goal would be to have a waterbirth with a midwife, but I am not appose to an epideral at all. Before I watched the documentary I really enjoyed the show ‘A baby story’. After watching the film you can totally see the unnessary interventions that they are persuading the moms to do. I think birth is a personal choice. If you want to be induced or have an epi it’s okay, I just think it’s about getting the info out there.

fuschia on

Look I had epidurals and was induced for my first two and had a natural pain-relief free birth for 3rd…partly because I was so curious as to the “benefits” of not having an epidural. In my personal experience I still think epidurals are great! I had an easy 3rd birth but can honestly say a hard natural birth is not an experience I would enjoy.

Christie – I would never feel guilty about wanting pain relief. Too much guilt in this world to waste any time feeling it about something as essentilaly unimportant as that! Feel proud that you know what you want and are following your instincts!

Caitie on

Gingi – I believe her son was breech, tangled in his cord, and also had IUGR which is why her belly was so small. I remember them commenting about the size of her belly during the movie and I know that he had IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), but I’m not 100% positive on why she needed the csection. I believe it was because he was tangled and had a low heartrate.

Carol on

I’ve not seen the documentary or read the book. But, I had an epidural and hospital births with both children. And they were both great experiences. With my first, my bloodpressure was through the roof and I was vomiting-even with nothing on my stomach. Once I got the epidural and was able to calm down, I was fine and the birth was great. I delivered in a military hospital and instead of doing an episiotomy, they let me tear naturally and I am very thankful. With my second, it was the midwife that was on call when I went into labor. Though I would have been just as happy with any of the OB’s I saw. They asked me what I wanted and we spoke about birth plans. I tried to do it natural but in the end had an epidural and it was great to be so relaxed and be able to enjoy the delivery. For me, I think a homebirth is risky…there’s too many things that could happen-even when you’ve had a risk free pregnancy. But, to each their own. And I think that had this book not come out, I think every woman and their partner should research what they think will be best for them. You should be open to talk to your OB about what you want and have a plan but also know that things do happen. Educate yourself.

NLT on

I’ve seen the movie. I loved it. If I get pregnant again, I plan to have a homebirth with a midwife. I have had 2 hospital births, and have never felt more ignored yet bullied in my entire life. I am just glad there are options for women. We need to at least explore the options.

Ashley on

What I took away from the movie is that we as women have to educate ourselves and not trust everything our doctors say. In an ideal world, we would be able to trust their judgment, but unfortunately doctors don’t always have their patients’ best interest at heart.

I know someone that just recently had her first child. The birth was so traumatic that she said it’s going to be a long time before she even considers having another baby. Her plan from the beginning was to have a natural birth. A little while before her due date, she went in for an appointment, and they told her that they were pretty sure she was developing pre-eclampsia and that she should be induced right away (her worst fear!). After getting to the hospital and getting hooked up to the pitocin, the blood results came back and guess what? She was in fact NOT pre-eclamptic so she was induced for no reason!!! Needless to say, she was absolutely furious and things just went downhill from there. The pitocin caused the contractions to be much stronger than normal so she felt like she had no choice but to get the epidural. When the anesthesiologist came, he criticized and made fun of her for wanting to go natural! (Which she could have done anyway if they hadn’t given her an unnecessary induction!). What a jerk. So he put the epidural in, but it never took so she got no pain relief and still ended up with a natural delivery; it’s just that the contractions were much more intense than they would have been without the pitocin. After being in labor for several hours, she was only dilated to 5 cm so the doctor on call was ready to just give in the towel and haul her in for a c-section. She felt so defeated and upset. Finally, the midwife stood up for her (thank God she hired one!) and told the doctor to wait a second. The midwife did some kind of procedure that manually dilated her to 10 centimeters and within minutes, she was ready to push! It was a miracle. The doctor probably didn’t have a clue how to do that (or didn’t want to try). So a c-section wasn’t actually necessary after all.

I can’t stand when people say, “all that matters is having a healthy baby.” While that is true, it’s foolish to pretend that the process getting there isn’t just as important because it is (for many women at least). That’s like saying it doesn’t matter how any of live our lives because we’re all just doing to die anyway. The journey is important! Also, for me, it’s the principle of the thing. Like Rikki, I don’t appreciate being lied to so I see it as my responsibility to become as informed as possible. I’m not going to blindly trust someone simply of how many college degrees they have.

bubbs on

ummmm…. you pick your OB right? well, if he is a jerk – fire him. My OB was a man and he was just the most supportive, reasonable human being. He presented arguments for either side, gave me articles to read and good websites to look at. When asked he gave his opinion but stressed that that was all it was – his opinion based on his personal experience (for example, he said he would choose elective c-section over natural birth every time because as part of his job he was always sewing up the horror outcomes and so was risk-averse…. but that a good vaginal birth was obviously best case scenario for both baby and mommy).

In the end I had an unmedicated water birth. My OB was so excited he was almost jumping out of his skin because he’d never assisted at a water birth before. He LOVED it – though all he did was watch while the midwife and I did the work. He said later that he was blown away by the way my baby entered the world serene and calm… yet super-alert. He was used to some good old-fashioned screaming! When i went for my 6 week appt i was greeted by everyone, the receptionist down, with excitement and congratulations – they had all been told about my wonderful birth experience.

The ONLY arrogance, insensitivity and condescension i came across in the hospital was courtesy of the lactation consultants! One mother in my breastfeeding class (who, incidentally, was sitting on a bag of ice courtesy of a ripped to smithereens anal passage) was finding it difficult to stay calm as her hungry 2 day old screamed violently after ANOTHER failed attempt at latching on. Heck, i was sitting across the room and i was finding it hard to stay calm… this kid had lungs. THe lactation consultant simply raised her eyebrow, pursed her lips, and said, “let me guess, you’ve never spent much time with babies, have you?” !!!?????!!!! THe poor exhausted, sore, hormonal woman promptly burst into tears – as you would.

I’m not saying OBs are good and lactation consultants are bad… I’m saying that both groups are trying to help mothers but that INDIVIDUALS can lose sight of how terrifying and important and overwhelming it is for the mother because they do it day after day after day…. they can lose their compassion and respect and kindness because they are tired or bored or they broke up with their boyfriend that weekend… whatever.

It is silly to say that we have to avoid OBs because they will steal our power. No-one can take your power away unless you let them. So do your research, be realistic and stay in charge. Oh yeah, and fire anybody who treats you with anything less than total respect.


Zee on

I had my daughter at a hospital with an epidural. It was not the plan, but once I was in labor things changed. My contractions never got a rythymn and they were lasting 3 and 4 minutes. I actually had a 9 minute contraction. My daughters heart rate kept dipping, but my doctor never tried to force me to have c-section. They were even encouraging me to get in the tub. I ended up having to stay on the monitors because of the heart rate dips. I did have her vaginally, and felt the big whoosh when she came out. Do I wish I could have still had the natural birth..no. I am just glad she is ok. I think sometimes women put to much emphasis on their birth experience and this in part leads to some of the post-partum depression becuase what they wanted to happen didn’t. Not that I am saying that this is the only reason for post-partum depression, but I think for many women, it feeds into it. This is why people say “it doesn’t matter as long as the child is healthy”. they say it because to many times the emphasis is put on the process and not the result. Do yo want your child any less because he or she didn’t get her they way you wanted? I do agree with a one of the earlier posters, in that the only negative thing about my daughters birth were the women looking down on me because I didn’t breast feed. Personally, I would have loved to, but I take thyroid medication that is excreted in the breast milk. Doctors say it doesn’t harm the child, but I don’t trust that. I didn’t want to find out years later that they were wrong and it did. All of it is a personal choice, but you would never know it the way one side or the other is always hounding you. I am glad that this video shows women that they have options, but I don’t think that you should let it make you make a final decision, because things happen… and it’s better to be prepared than disappointed.

fnhdl on

bubbs, you mention that if we are with an OB we aren’t comfortable with to just change OBs. Well, I had an OB who I loved, but he works in a practice with 5 other OBs. During my pregnancy, I met 4 of them, HATED 1, disliked 1, liked 1 and really liked the other. The fifth, I never met, but heard he was horrible. I could have ended up with any of them on the day of my daughters birth, it all just depended on who was on call. I wasn’t going to switch because there were 3/6 that I would have been happy getting. I was lucky because the one I really liked was on call when I went into labor. I started having contractions 5 hours before his shift ended, but amazingly delivered within 3 (only at the hospital for 1 1/2) hours! So, for me it really worked out well. My doctor was kind, and encouraging and kept telling me that I had the strength to get my baby out without meds, as I had wanted. The doctor I hated was set to take over at 6 AM when my doctor finished his shift. Had I had a normal length labor, I would have been stuck with her, and she quite openly scoffed at my plan to go med-free. I may have ended up with a labor I never really wanted had I gotten stuck with her.

Ashley on

Fnhdl pointed out another big problem that many women have to deal with! (thank you for that by the way). Switching OB’s is not as simple as you make it seem, bubbs. For one thing, many women are restricted to using doctors that are within their insurance network. I’m actually dealing with that problem right now. My friends have recommended all of these wonderful doctors and midwives, but hardly any of them are in my network!!! It’s incredibly frustrating. So for that reason alone, we can’t always have our first choice.

Secondly, as fnhdl pointed out, many practices are now composed of several OB’s. I don’t know if it’s just a Florida thing or a new trend in general, but most of the offices around here require their patients to cycle through all of the OB’s so you don’t have a choice of who you see. You’re stuck with whoever is on call which sucks because each doctor could have a completely different philosophy. I know someone who was with a practice like that for her first pregnancy but has since decided to switch to a different one that has midwives because she doesn’t want to take any chances like she did the first time around (fortunately she lucked out when she had her son and got the natural birth she wanted… she wants to make sure that happens again the next time).

I still maintain my opinion that it’s dumb for women to say that it doesn’t matter how you give birth (because it very much does). I guess we just have to agree to disagree on that.

MiB on

I haven’t seen the business of being born, but I just had to add, that my friend who is a midwife, and my aunt who is an OB both have told me that when the mother is relaxed during birth there is much less risk for complications, so the mothers experience IS crucial when it comes to minimizing the risk of complications and stress to the baby, and thus increase the chance to have a healthy baby.

Ruby on

I’m in the UK so it’s a different system here and all uncomplicated births are with midwives. Doctors only get involved if there are risks or a section is required.

I watched The Business of Being Born last year when pregnant with my first baby. It was instrumental in my decision to have my baby at home which I did without any complications.

What shocked me in the documentary was how many women in America believe they have to have a doctor as their main care provider and how many don’t even question the system and the over medicalisation of birth.

Crystal on

I have never given birth and thus have no kids but I have a few questions about the “Business of Being Born.” If you decide to have a home birth with an assisting midwife, what happens if it becomes an emergency? Isn’t it better to be in a hospital where if something goes wrong an operating room is right down the hallway? It just seems dangerous to me. I mean it’s fine if everything goes well but what if it doesn’t? What is the risk to the baby? I know that people have been doing it for 100s of years but people also used to die in childbirth quite often. I really hope someone can answer my questions.

Heather on

I appreciate teh idea that this is about educating women about all of their options, not so much about advocating one over the others. In my opinino, the best birth is the one whee there is a physically and emotionally healthy Mom, baby, and family, and where bonding occurs. Generally speaking, I think out of hospital births are better for bonding, but at the ame time, i would much see a medicated, well bonded mommy and baby than one that stuck to natural birth just for the sake of it and ends up too exhausted to bond quickly- it happens, I’ve experienced it, and it has lasting effects.
That said, I just hd my third baby at home on June 13th, and it was one of the mot glorious experiences of my life. I have incredible memories of tlaking to my three year old daugte, smiling with her while she pats my hair, as I was in the most intense parts of labor. My 6 year old son ran into the room just in time, previously he had said he did not want to see the birth, and he was the one to announce to the whole family that he had a new sister. It was a bonding experience for the entire family, and I think it has made our transition to a family of 5 a beautiful one- my other children feel incredibly connected to their new sister.

Ruby on

Heather what a beautiful story! Congratulations on your new baby girl!

Crystal – it’s been categorically proven that for healthy women with a low-risk pregnancy home birth is AS safe or safer than a a hospital birth.

Plus by having my baby at home I avoided the unnecessary cascade of intervention which happens all too often causing trauma and injury. I delivered my baby with the help of my partner and 2 very experienced fantastic midwives – nobody else was needed.

Of course there will always be unforeseen emergencies but these are statistically very very rare.

Crystal on

Ashley-that is all that matters! It doesn’t matter how the baby got here as long as the baby is healthy. I think we take having a healthy baby for granted and so we say something like “all that matters is having a healthy baby.” What if you had a perfect delivery and then had a stillborn. Are you going to remember that your delivery was perfect or that your baby died? I know this is extreme but that was an extreme statement. A friend of mine once told me that she knew a woman who REFUSED a c-section even though her doctor kept insisting otherwise. Her baby was in distress and the cord was wrapped around his neck. She did end up delivering the baby “natural” but he had brain damage from his imbilical cord. It was a terrible story. If my doctor tells me I need a c-section and they’ve done everything they can for me I’m not going to argue because the most important thing to me is MY HEALTHY BABY!!!

Jamie on

I absolutely agree it’s every woman’s right to choose how she gives birth! (c-section, epidural, non-medicated, etc.) However, for those of you arguing that all that matters is a healthy baby (and you’re right! That really is all that matters!), remember that any drugs you take during childbirth, whether it’s pitocin to induce labor, an epidural, receive anesthesia, etc., those drugs DO cross over into the placenta. The amount may be small, but it still does cross the placenta and therefore DOES get into your baby.

In an uncomplicated pregnancy, an unmedicated birth is the HEALTHIEST birth for your baby. Though I am very grateful for the availability of pitocin, epidurals, and c-sections in emergency/problematic situations!