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The Business of Being Born (2008)

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Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Mary Helen Ayres ...
Herself - Homebirth Midwife in Indiana
Herself - Parent (as Julia Barnett Tracy)
Sylvie Blaustein ...
Herself - Owner & Director, Midwifery of Manhattan
Louann Brizendine ...
Michael Brodman ...
Patricia Burkhardt ...
Tina Cassidy ...
Herself - Journalist and Author of 'Birth'
Ronaldo Cortes ...
Himself - Ob / Gyn (as Dr. Ronaldo Cortes)
Robbie Davis-Floyd ...
Herself - Medical Anthropologist
Eugene Declerq ...
Herself - Filmmaker
Eden Fromberg ...
Herself - Ob / Gyn (as Dr. Eden Fromberg)
Natashia Fuksman ...
Herself - Doula (Labor Support)
Ina May Gaskin ...
Herself - Midwife
Nadine Goodman ...
Herself - Public Health Specialist


Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to explore the maternity care system in America. Focusing on New York City, the film reveals that there is much to distrust behind hospital doors and follows several couples who decide to give birth on their own terms. There is an unexpected turn when director Epstein not only discovers she is pregnant, but finds the life of her child on the line. Should most births should be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

9 January 2008 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,574 (USA) (11 January 2008)


$69,348 (USA) (22 February 2008)

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User Reviews

Informative? No. Pressing an ill-informed agenda? Yes.
11 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I watched this dreck after I had my own child and I'm SO glad I didn't watch it beforehand. I would never, EVER recommend it for a mother-to-be. I mean, come on, it's RICKI LAKE. It's not like it's a real documentary. It's biased beyond all rationality and the whole reason for its being was that Lake herself was brainwashed into grieving over some fulfilling birth process she didn't get. Gee, think she's going to be balanced and fair? Maybe by Fox News's definition, but not any other.

In short: I'm sick of midwives being portrayed as being incredible medical experts when they simply aren't. At least if a doctor screws up, I can sue him for malpractice. S/he knows it and I know it. If nothing else, I'd think that would serve to keep a doctor on his/her toes, especially with malpractice rates being what they are. What option do I have with a midwife? Have her say she's sorry when she screws up and kills my child (or me?) I had contact with THREE midwives during my own pregnancy, and the advice of ANY of them would have resulted not only in my child's death, but in mine as well. All three of them pooh-poohed my several miscarriages and my advanced age, insisted I'd do just fine at home, shrugged off my preeclampsia and rising blood pressure.

Fortunately, I ignored all three of these so-called experts and took my doctor's advice. As a result, my baby got an extra month of growth, even though she did have to be taken two months early, and most importantly, because I was in a hospital, where I could be monitored, we quickly realized that the baby's heartbeat was being affected every time I had a contraction. Had I insisted upon my 'natural' delivery instead of having an emergency c-section, my daughter would have been born dead and I probably would have hemorrhaged to death...because the placenta was partially separated. NOT something a midwife at home could EVER have handled!!

Obviously, chalk ME down as someone who isn't going to be giving any credit to midwives and their 'birth is oh-so-natural' garbage. Sure, it's natural, and in its natural state, it kills a lot of women and infants. How natural do we really want to be? I'm not denying some of the accusations directed at the medical industry, and I certainly don't have a problem taking on insurance. However, is there really a difference between the doctors who want to deliver in a timely fashion and the midwives who out and out lie to their patients and tell them that birth is natural and there's no danger? Well, I guess there is one: The midwife will be far more likely to kill the mother and the patient.

Which is how I arrive at the crux of my problem with this documentary and other natural-everything brainwashing like it. What's important in the birth process is NOT how 'natural' the mother feels the experience is, or, in fact, HER 'experience' at all. The one and ONLY important thing in a birth is that the mother and child come through it alive and healthy.

However, what I'm seeing because of this documentary and other garbage like it is that women are ignoring danger signs and warning signals because they think 'natural' equals 'less danger', or because they're so selfish they don't even consider the needs of the baby, only their own emotional ones. I've even seen some women say they'll turn down a c-section, even an emergency one, because they're convinced by this crowd that they're being poor mothers if they do! That's just insane. Lake is doing her best to promote this ill-advised and downright stupid point of view.

If Lake wanted to put time and effort into something, she should have done something which assured women that *every* birth experience is worth valuing, not try to place worth and weight on how they've given birth. If they did what was necessary to end up with a living, healthy child, they did something right.

As for me, I had an emergency c-section, and you know what? I consider it a totally rewarding birth experience. I don't think I missed out on a thing by not having to hurt and sweat through hours of agonizing labor, and I really, really don't think I missed out on what would have happened had I gone through the natural process -- a dead baby.

As it turns out, the sweetest sound I ever heard was my daughter's first cry, and I'm more grateful than I can say to the doctor who saved us both. And I say that as someone who is, by and large, extremely skeptical of doctors and who lost her own mother to malpractice.

And news flash, people: birth hurts even when it's done oh-so-naturally. I notice several of the reviewers either don't have children or are male, so they really can't comment on the accuracy. 'Thought birth in a hospital didn't hurt'...oh, please!

16 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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