Ricki Lake And The Birthing Biz

03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

And it's why she's become a passionate advocate for improving maternal care and for educating women about birthing options, especially midwifery. Along the way, Lake even trained to be a doula herself.

"This movie is about choice. It is about women being empowered and educated and to care about the process of birth," Lake said from New York City where she was preparing for the film's debut this week. Watch the trailer on my website,

The film, directed by Abby Epstein, chronicles the pregnancies of several women (including Epstein herself) as it delves into the evolution of birthing in the US. In 87 minutes, the documentary raises some provocative questions such as why Cesarean sections are the most commonly performed surgeries in the US and rising; why less than 8% of American women turn to midwives for birthing; and why the US has the second worst infant mortality rate in the developed world?

Despite the compelling and intensely personal nature of the material, it wasn't easy to get the film made. Lake ended up financing the project herself over the last three years. Epstein says some TV networks thought it was just too controversial to take on the medical establishment.

"People don't understand the topic and people perceive this as the 'Brown Rice Moms' - those crunchy moms trying to push their agenda on other moms," Epstein explained to me. Instead, she underlines, "The film is about empowerment and about women being robbed of an amazing transformative experience that they deserve to control."

That was the message I took away from the movie. Looking back, I'm not sure I would have traded my epidural. But I might have considered bringing on a midwife or a doula into the process had I been a bit more enlightened on the subject. And I might have gone into the hospital with a more positive, empowered outlook.

I think The Business of Being Born will spur some candid discussions among girlfriends, patients and physicians, husbands and wives and mothers and daughters about the potential for really positive birthing experiences. I would love to hear about your own birth experiences. Please share them here and check out for more ideas and inspiration about the pursuit of wellness.