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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Features Maternity Ward (2000) See more »


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User Reviews

Informative? Yes. Entertaining? (Yawn!)
31 January 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Informative? Sure. Gives a new perspective on a broken system? Definitely. Entertaining? Er ...not really.

After talk-show host Ricki Lake experienced a bad childbirth in-hospital, she decided to try a midwife, and thus THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN was ...birthed. I can't help but think that some of this (not all) was a ploy by Lake to put herself back in the public eye; specifically, the movie industry. Although this is strictly a documentary, and other actors support various causes (from freeing Darfur to Tibetan independence), this one felt a bit more forced.

The reason I say this is that the entire documentary was exceptionally boring and exceptionally lopsided. I work in the medical field (as an RN) but not in an Obstetrics setting. I can, however, vouch for the terrible cost of healthcare and some of the impersonalness of those giving it (as this documentary pointed out). I've heard doctors talking about "tee times" on the golf course and the need to "get home by dinner," so time is a big factor for physicians (the film pointed out that C-section deliveries peek at 4pm — just prior to dinnertime — and again at 10pm — so doctors can get home to bed). Be damned whether the patient needs a C-section or not, doctors force the decision so that they can "get on with their lives." Cut and run! Even with its interesting take on the care of OB/Gyn patients in the U.S., the film never delves outside of the States even though certain statistics are presented (including telling us that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is one of the highest amongst developed countries). I would've liked to have seen at least one interview with a Japanese midwife or a European midwife, and have them show us how their system works. But we're never give the opportunity to see this for ourselves.

The boring nature of the film is that it never really finds its focus. Although the title of it is The Business of Being Born, it focused more on the plight of midwives and their care of expectant mothers at home or in midwife clinics. We drive around with midwives, trot down the road with midwives, listen to midwives talk on the phone to patients, and get to watch a couple of in-home births. Then we start the entire process over again.

And there's also a brief and confusing stint in which we learn one of the film's producers is pregnant and trying to decide on prenatal care.

All-in-all it's an informative story, but one that might cause a few too many yawns.

6 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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