Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein's 2007 film The Business of Being Born got in our faces about home delivery. (In case you missed it, Lake gives birth on screen -- in her bathtub.) They're at it again with their new book, Your Best Birth, which seeks to shatter myths about delivering at home and in a hospital - info, according to Lake, that many expectant moms are not given. When I talked to her, she used the word "empowerment" seven or eight times to describe what she hopes the film, the book, and her work are accomplishing: giving moms the most control when delivering their babies.
Why did you think it was so important this book be written?
Ricki Lake: At the screening of The Business of Being Born, there were a lot of questions from the grassroots. We felt there were topics that we couldn't raise in the film that still needed to be addressed. With the success of the movie, and access to all this new information, there is so much more.
So it's more important than just entertainment.
RL: Yes, it's really continued to be a great tool for families to have the information that they're not getting anywhere else.
What do you mean? What's the secret?
RL: Most women don't give birth at home, so they need to be empowered in their hospital environment. You think your doctor knows best and you do what you're told. But the truth is that birth centers are up and running. Midwives are cheaper than hospital stays. There are too many unnecessary c-sections in hospitals and they cost more money. Women need to know all their options.
So what are the basic things women can do?
RL: Speak up. You should have control over your pain medication, who is there with you, when you want your baby with you, skin to skin contact with your baby...
Women in hospitals should have control over all those things?
RL: Yes, but their rights are being taken away. There are so many things moms-to-be should know. I mean, technology has been advancing. Women can give birth to 8 babies! But we've lost reverence for giving birth naturally, vaginally. It's not being done as much. Doctors can't do vaginal birth after a c-section. More and more, the options are being taken away from women.
But you had your baby at home.
RL: Yes, and I'm so grateful I had the birth I had. The midwife was really a miracle.
Was she hard to find?
RL: Well no, but midwives aren't as integrated into the system as much as they should be. Now I see my midwife for everything. I go to a midwife for my pap smear. It's a great profession that is misunderstood.
How do you find one you like?
RL: We'll be launching mybestbirth.com, a hub for people to find a provider and learn about the laws and all the information they need. It will be a community for people to ask their OB/GYN questions. Until now, there hasn't been a social network out there for moms-to-be.
Well, congratulations! You've been very brave, especially giving birth on camera.
RL: This is the life work I was meant to do. I love that I can be an advocate for moms and babies and choice. I'm so fascinated by the profession, and all the misinformation that's out there about midwives.
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