I managed to snag an interview with Ricki Lake who, along with partner Abby Epstein, has just released today, four new educational videos, “MORE: The Business Of Being Born.” These videos–available to download or purchase in DVD format– comprise a follow-up to their influential and provocative documentary, “The Business Of Being Born.”*
In my childbirth classes there is usually at least one couple who comes in with questions, concerns and/or hopes inspired by “The Business of Being Born.” The documentary– which is part home-birth advocacy (Lake herself had a transformative experience giving birth at home) and part critique of the current maternity care system, particularly the overuse of pitocin in labor and the rising c-section rate–has made a significant impact on a whole generation of expectant and new parents.
The new DVDs extend the message of the documentary, but offer more in the way of specific strategies and information to help moms (and partners) make decisions about where and with whom and how to give birth. One focuses on the important work of labor support doulas, another is about the option of a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and another looks the work of legendary midwife Ina May Gaskin at The Farm.
I watched the fourth DVD in which Lake interviews celebrities about their births and loved it! It might sound kind of celebrity-gawker-y and superficial but these woman have some great things to say about birth–really fascinating observations and revelations. Alanis Morissette’s birth story alone is worth the price of a download. Seriously, she’s incredible. She compares giving birth to taking psychedelics, which may or may not be something you can relate to but it’s certainly a viable analogy.
Anyway, there’s so much to say about all of this, but let’s hear from Ricki!
If you had to give a woman who hopes for an un-medicated birth one tip, what would it be?
Try to labor in a place where you feel totally comfortable, relaxed, safe and surrounded by people you trust.
What is the most common misconception about birth?
I think birth in our society has come to be viewed as a “medical event.” But birth is sacred. It’s a spiritual and emotional rite of passage. There are so many more layers to it than just a medical procedure.
Is “natural” birth for everyone?
Oh, God no! The wonderful thing about modern medicine is all the choices we have. Women need options! But I think there are more women who are discovering that they are interested in having natural births once they understand the potential benefits. It was a life changing experience for me, but I support any way a woman chooses to bring her child into this world. Every birth is heroic in my book.
As a childbirth educator, I think about this one a lot: If birth has been going on since the dawn of time, why do we need to learn about it? And take classes and read books?
It would make sense that birth is something that your body is designed to do without any instruction – like sex. But it’s so important to educate yourself these days because our culture creates so much fear and dread around the act of childbirth that women need to “undo” all that negative conditioning. Yet, you don’t want to cram your head with too many intellectual ideas because during labor the most important thing is to get primal and surrender to the process.
What have you learned most from all the women you’ve interviewed and their very diverse but equally compelling birth stories?
I’ve learned that birth is an experience that is unique to every woman and stays with her the rest of her life. Even in old age, women can recall the most specific details and emotions from the births of their children. I never tire of hearing birth stories because they are all so different and I am constantly amazed by the lasting impact they have on women.
Here’s the trailer for the new films: