Ricki Lake may be best known for her for twirling to the top on "Dancing With The Stars," or for counseling her daytime guests for more than a decade. But the mom of two doesn't want people to focus on those successes. She wants people to remember her for empowering women to make the best possible childbirth choices.
"I do not want to die being known for doing baby mama DNA tests on my show," Lake told The Huffington Post about her decision to pursue a documentary about childbirth. "I just felt like there was something more that I wanted to say. The birth world ... this was an area where I could be used."
Lake's first documentary, about natural childbirth, was met with wild success when released in 2008. Now Lake is releasing a four-part sequel in the hopes of educating more parents and parents-to-be. The movie, dubbed "More Business of Being Born," will address the grim U.S. infant mortality rate and expanding birthing options, among other birth-related topics. The second film, again a collaboration with filmmaker Abby Epstein, will premiere in L.A. on Wednesday.
"The most important thing in the first film are the images, women who look just like us ... having a baby standing up and catching their baby," Lake remarked. "That changed what normal birth is."
Lake's first project, "The Business of Being Born" opened viewers up to a world where mothers deliver babies in bathtubs and ease their pain with oils and hot towels -- not epidurals. In response to the film, the American Medical Association endorsed a measure declaring home births unsafe.
Despite the controversy, Lake decided to take her audience on an even more extensive birthing journey the second time around.
Viewers learn about the debate surrounding delivering a baby vaginally after having had a cesarean. They tour birth centers, meet midwifery's pioneers and hear the intimate details of natural birth from big-name celebrities, including Gisele Bundchen and Alanis Morissette.
While Lake is a proponent of home birth and steering clear of medication during delivery, she said she in no way intends for this project to vilify hospitals or serve as propaganda piece.
"I'm not telling people what to do," Lake said. "I'm just trying to put out the information."
And, the information that Lake puts out, in her DVDs and in conversation, is intensely personal. The former television talk-show host said that giving birth to her second son, Owen, now 10, and feeling every bit of pain associated with the experience was incredibly empowering.
Lake can still vividly recall feeling the "ring of fire," the moment when the baby's head began to emerge. Without the drugs, she felt like she was in control of the birthing process.
"Normal birth to me should not be numb from the waist down and waiting for the doctor to tell you to push," Lake said. "There's a reason we feel it. There's a reason we need to feel it."
Lake hopes for moms to see the natural birth experience as a gift to give to the child too.
"[Owen] came into the world completely calm," Lake shared. "I got out of the bathtub after I delivered him and we got into my bed. It was quiet; there weren't any bright lights. He was never taken from my arms. We were just bonding."
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