Birth Movie to Watch

If you’re anything like me, your cinematic tastes while pregnant are decidedly corny — and restricted. When pregnant with both of my children, I couldn’t watch anything that included the harming of children or animals or children harming animals. I couldn’t watch movies based around characters steeped in war or poverty or depression. I stayed away from documentaries (too intellectual), dramas (too emotional), and indie films (too hip).

This left me with one category, really — romantic comedies, which I devoured with an unapologetic vengeance. Stuck at home  with nausea (first trimester), allergies (second trimester) and insomnia (third trimester), I found myself tearing up at cinematic gems like The Rebound (Catherine Zeta Jones is a single mother who falls for her much younger manny).

But I did wipe away the tears long enough to focus on one serious film, Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born. Lake, of talk show fame, has become an unlikely advocate for safe and natural birth free from medical intervention. The film carries a clear message: In the United States today, birth is often viewed as a pathology, as a condition that must be treated in a hospital, by doctors, when in reality, most women are perfectly capable of delivering healthy babies in the comfort of their own homes, with nothing more than the guidance of an experienced midwife and/or doula. In fact, we’ve been giving birth at home for centuries.

The film is educational, taking the viewer on a journey that chronicles the history of birth in America, and entertaining – Ricki is a fun and friendly guide who isn’t afraid to get gritty on film (she invites us to the birth of her second child — doesn’t get more real than that.). She also shows when things go wrong and the hospital is the necessary place to be.

Any woman who is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant — or is friends or sisters or colleagues with anyone remotely with child — should take the time to watch this empowering, inspiring movie.