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"Business of Being Born" Viewing 5/27/09

I've seen this movie about 25 times now, but this was the first time on the really big screen. There were parts the first time that didn't make me angry this time because I know more back story. I wasn't crazy mad about Abby bottlefeeding her baby, Cara coming to attend Abby when she was having a premature labor (although I would have had her meet me at the hospital instead of going to her home) or that Abby's crazy birth ended the movie. I am glad, however, that they are doing another film that explains some of the confusing pieces of BoBB. It still was odd to see Cara (the midwife) without gloves, catching babies so many times. It's rare for midwives to be caught without gloves... at least in my experience.

After the movie there was a Question and Answer with Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, BJ Snell, CNM, Lorri Walker, CNM and Dr. Rober Biter (Dr. Wonderful for those that read her regularly). Audience members came up to a microphone, most thanking Ricki and Abby for their work, telling them how the movie changed their birth experiences. It really was lovely. The stars were delightfully accessible, staying to sign their new book (My Best Birth) and take photos with all of us.

Only one question was confrontational and came from a woman whose daughter "almost died" in birth and she wanted to know if CNMs/midwives could be prosecuted if something bad happened at home that wouldn't have happened in the hospital. She explained that her daughter went in to be induced and they broke her water and the baby's heart rate went down so bad they did an emergency cesarean. BJ Snell was great saying it was very difficult talking about one specific case, but that midwives stay with their clients during the birth and would be aware of something untoward happening, allowing for them/us to transfer a woman to the hospital for help. Then Abby came in and fabulously asked why she was in the hospital not in labor. The (birth) woman herself said she was overdue, pressed, she said by a week. Abby said, "According to the book, that isn't a reason to be induced." Then the woman was told that breaking her water was also not the best idea to get a woman into labor. Abby was wonderful! Much less diplomatic than BJ - and I was really glad. Sometimes tip-toeing around women's feelings isn't the right thing to do.

And we talked about that, too. How women who have had VBACs or natural, wonderful births are constrained in our society, unable to talk openly and passionately about their births lest they hurt someone's feelings, someone who had an epidural or a cesarean. It's time we stopped that hindrance. We need to talk about the wonders of natural birth! If women feel bad, they need to confront that, deal with it and make a different choice the next time if they want the same kind of amazing birth. Women, holler about the pain AND the after-joy of your births... tell everyone how great natural birth is... how strong you feel now, how it impacts every part of your life. Talk about how much the cesarean hurt, how you couldn't walk for 2 weeks without excruciating pain, what nursing on an incision feels like, that you had to pack your open and infected incision for 12 weeks. We need to get to the truth about birth, dispel the crap that is on tv... we have to do it together. I will do my part, too.

I am so glad I drove from San Diego to Laguna Niguel... about 75 minutes away... last night. The theater was almost full, one ICAN friend described it like a birth junkie's prom. We were all giddy and laughing and so excited to welcome two wonderful women into our space. I missed this morning's book signing at Milkalicious, but heard there was a great turn out. Nice!

Here is a pic of me with Ricky and Abby.


And me with Dr. Biter.


If you haven't seen "Business of Being Born," see it now! And please, please get "My Best Birth"... it is a great book about choices, helping women make their OWN choices for their births. I'm reading it now!

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Reader Comments (16)

Thanks for the recap on the evenings Q&A. I had to leave early as I drove up with Dawn and she needed to hurry home to nurse her precious new baby. I don't cry. Although I was emensely blessed by the movie, I didn't really get choked up until Ricki and Abby walked down the aisle. I've been teary all day still. I am so grateful.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I recently discovered you blog and am rally enjoying your perspective on birth. If you could share more of the backstory on BoBB (or where to find it) that would be awesome. I had some of the same questions about why they put in what they did, as well. Thanks!

Sounds like a wonderful evening ! Wish I could have been there.

May 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRixa

I am confused about the confrontational question. First of all, of course midwives can be sued and, in my state, are required to carry malpractice insurance, while ob/gyns are not.

Secondly, her baby almost died in a hospital, right? They broke her water when she wasn't in labor, so I am assuming they had a cord prolapse? I don't know of any midwife who would break the water of a woman who is not in labor. In my state in freestanding birth centers, a midwife cannot breakwaters earlier than 4 cm, and I don't think anyone should do it unless the baby is engaged properly. And, they are not allowed to induce at all, and AROM in a woman who is not in labor would count as an induction. I am not sure how these laws are applied to homebirths, since the laws are a little weird in my state, but usually, if a midwife can't do it in a birth center, she also can't do it in a home. So, this situation is pretty irrelevant to midwives, at least where I come from.

AROM before active labor with an unengaged baby is much more likely to happen in a high intervention setting (hospital) than a low intervention setting (home). Her question seems to support home birth, not vice versa.

May 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMomTFH

Here, LMs do not have malpractice insurance.

But, generally speaking, your observations are correct (minor variances for different practitioners). The speakers gently said what you said without going into the midwifery details that most of us in the audience recognized.

May 29, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I was in the movie!!
I'm one of the 2 fat doulas interviewed ;)

Ricki very quietly become a fixture in the NYC birth community, she became a labor doula and was dreaming of becoming a homebirth midwife, all while she was doing that TV talk show!
She then changed directions and certainly figured out a way to serve the world by making this movie.

I know and love Cara, she chooses not wear gloves on purpose. After the movie came out she got a lot of questions about that, and how it freaks out other HCP.

I'm guessing why Cara came to Abby's apartment, Abby and Cara live only a couple of blocks from each other, that is probably why she accompanied her to the hospital, and the hospital is only ten blocks or so from where the two of them live.

If you want an interesting read aobut Cara path to midwifery she wrote a terrific memoir "Labor of Love". She was a barely trained lay midwife first, joined the Mooney cult, went to Columbia university to become a CNM. Worked at Columbia Univ hosp for five years as RN.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdewi

MomTFH, what you said is exactly what Navelgazing Midwife leaned over and said to me while the woman was asking that question and telling her daughter's story. Like, verbatim except for the malpractice insurance part.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJill--Unnecesarean

Abby and Ricki are great, aren't they? I went to see a screening of BoBB at the Laemmle Monica in Santa Monica back in February of 2008 when I was about 3 months preganant and they did a Q&A there, too. It really reaffirmed my decision to birth with the midwives at UCLA (seemed like the best of both worlds -- doctors on hand in a hospital setting if necessary, but labor and delivery under midwife-ish "sensibilities"). Anyway, the following August, about 14 hours into my 28 hour labor, I was in the hospital courtyard walking, walking, walking. Eventually, it got too hot to be outside, so I got into the elevator to head back up to the L&D ward. Who was on the elevator with me but Ricki Lake! I mentioned how much I had loved the movie, that I was birthing with the midwives, etc., and she replied that if I needed a doula, she'd be up on the 6th floor! I didn't actually take her up on it, but I thought our encounter was pretty neat :)

I haven't read their new book yet, but I recommend the movie to any of my friends even remotely considering getting pregnant -- not as a vehicle for spreading a particular agenda, but so that women can know what reality is and what their choices are. It's truly amazing how highly educated women (i.e. Ph.Ds and MBAs) can be so uninformed on the various options when it comes to pregnancy and birth.

May 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentericedancer

The book really is wonderful. It is an absolute must-read for every woman considering birth at all. I PRAY it replaces "WtEWYE."

I would have called Ricki to be my doula in half a second. *laughing* What a story! Yours is great, too. :)

May 31, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Barb, you said:

Talk about how much the cesarean hurt, how you couldn't walk for 2 weeks without excruciating pain, what nursing on an incision feels like, that you had to pack your open and infected incision for 12 weeks. We need to get to the truth about birth, dispel the crap that is on tv... we have to do it together. I will do my part, too

Have you read ICAN's Cesarean Voices? http://tinyurl.com/cesareanvoices :-)

June 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLily B.

I am seriously jealous! I wonder if they're ever coming to Portland...

June 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Clear

Hi Barb.

BoBB is a fantastic movie and Your Best Birth is a fantastic book! My comment is unrelated though....

I just heard about a big study being released on the effects of Vitamin D on cancer - the authors are recommending 2000 IU is a more appropriate supplementation amount.

I immediately thought of your "Vitamin D & Its role in Women & Children" post and thought I'd pass on the link.


Thanks for continuing to Navelgaze....!


June 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarahthedoula

Sarah: Someday they will really figure out how much Vit D we need to stay healthy. It is surely a LOT more than the piddly 400IU recommended now. Thanks for the link!

June 4, 2009 | Registered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I love BoBB. I bought the video so I can lend it to my clients.
I also was not happy with the fact that a hosp. birth ended the documentary and that she was bottle feeding too.

June 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterYasmel

I just finished reading Cara's memoir, and she states in there that wearing gloves is for the protection of the health care provider, not the woman, and since she knows her client's medical histories, she doesn't worry about gloves unless the client gives her reason to (HIV pos, etc.)

I don't know. That's just what she says in her book.

July 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterA

I was there too! You look familiar! I remember when I went up front to meet Ricki and Abby, the only thing I could really say, was that I've had two very unnecesareans, and that next time would be different, thanks to watching BOBB a million times and 2 horrible experiences. I got pregnant with #3 just 3 wks later, UNPLANNED! I'm not 13+ weeks and just found a good midwife at a birth center that I plan to VBA2C with. You have a really good blog here, I'm very interested in stuff you have to say!

September 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheila

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