Mama at the Movies: The Business of Being Born

A couple days after my first son’s birth, I walked down the street of our busy neighborhood with my baby in a sling, awestruck. Everybody I looked at, I realized, every child, every adult, had come out of a woman’s body. I walked home slowly, mind-boggled at the wonder of it all. I was still a little stunned by my short, hard labor, and felt like I had been initiated into an amazing new society; I wanted to tell my birth story to anyone who would listen, and wanted to hear other women’s stories. Now, nearly four years after I gave birth to my second son, I still often find myself in groups of women that drift into sharing birth stories; we commiserate over past pains, cheer for supportive attendants, and, as we tell our stories, come to a better understanding of this sometimes joyous, sometimes traumatic, always transformative event.

Better understanding is the impulse behind the documentary, The Business of Being Born (2008). Producer Ricki Lake, unhappy with the interventions she experienced during her first child’s birth, set out to research American birth practices. She and director Abby Epstein (who became pregnant during the filming) dig up incredible documentary footage and still photos to create an informative, gripping film that should interest anyone concerned with healthcare in the United States, especially parents and parents-to-be.

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