The Business of Being Born Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 10 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 Ratings

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  • Summary: Birth is a miracle, a rite of passage, a natural part of life. But birth is also big business. Compelled to explore the subject after the delivery of her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to question the way American women have babies. Epstein gains access to several pregnant New York City women as they weigh their options. Some of these women are or will become clients of Cara Muhlhahn, a charismatic midwife who, between birth events, shares both memories and footage of her own birth experience. Footage of women having babies punctuates The Business of Being Born. Each experience is unique; all are equally beautiful and equally surprising. Giving birth is clearly the most physically challenging event these women have ever gone through, but it is also the most emotionally rewarding. Along the way, Epstein conducts interviews with a number of obstetricians, experts and advocates about the history, culture and economics of childbirth. The film’s fundamental question: should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency? As Epstein uncovers some surprising answers, her own pregnancy adds a very personal dimension to The Business of Being Born, a must-see movie for anyone even thinking about having a baby. (Red Envelope Entertainment) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Passionate, enlightening and unabashedly one-sided, Abby Epstein's documentary is not for everyone. But at the very least, it should be seen by every pregnant woman in America.
  2. 75
    It's a serious and well-researched consideration of natural childbearing vs. hospital delivery that explores the larger social conditions and assumptions that shape women's choices.
  3. Reviewed by: Tamara Straus
    A powerful, frightening look at America's delivery room.
  4. A passionate ground-level examination of home childbirth.
  5. Reviewed by: Julia Wallace
    Epstein and Lake have crafted an absorbing, thought-provoking inquiry into what modern birth has become and how to make it better.
  6. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    This unflinchingly shot picture is not for the squeamish. Epstein and Lake's own commitment to you-are-there realism is remarkable as well, each bringing new meaning to the phrase "naked truth."
  7. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's full of moving (and surprisingly ungross) filmed deliveries, including those by Epstein and Lake themselves. Unfortunately, the movie is also a propagandistic brief on behalf of the home-birth movement that's so selective in its presentation of information that it makes Michael Moore look like a fat lady in a blindfold holding a pair of scales.

See all 10 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. BiancaK
    Aug 17, 2009
    A movie everyone thinking of having a child or being an OB-GYN needs to see. We've become so lost at such a crucial time in our human race's longevity and successful prosperity. Everything depends on how well we come into this world and right now we're doing such a bad job. Shame on the US when it comes to how it handles childbirth! It's a very empowering movie for women. I especially like the fact the movie covers all sides of the matter and gives as honest a look into the matter as possible. Only downside is that it was too short. More information and talking to people, please! Also, the stats given seemed weak, even though they were trying to be powerful. Could have backed the stats up a bit better. Expand
  2. Mar 11, 2012
    This documentary should be viewed by every single american couple that is pregnant. I am a 20 year old male who had to watch this for my anthropology class. So I was forced into it, but wow they bring up some very great points. This movie affected me so much that I'm pretty sure when my future wife is pregnant I will make sure she is informed, of course it will be her decision but at least she will know her options unlike the majority of women in this country. Expand
  3. Mar 7, 2012
    I probably could have done without seeing Ricki Lake's ummm... "thing", but her argument is compelling nonetheless. The American hospital system, at the corporate level at least, consists of for-profit businesses who don't always have your best interests in mind. These hospitals, in turn, are heavily influenced by for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies who definitely do NOT have your best interests in mind. Lake's focus on the extreme overuse of labor-inducing drugs and cesarian section procedures in the US, along with the arguments for "squatting" vs the seemingly-stupid "feet in stirrups" method of birthing are probably the most compelling points that she makes. However, the argument that "we've been having children at home since freakin' forever" doesn't necessarily cut it either. Old ways of doing things tend to die out for a reason. The solution should be to improve certain hospital practices, not necessarily to bolster expectant mothers with a "do it yourself" attitude. If the baby comes out bright blue, it's unlikely that a midwife can provide the same emergency care that a hospital staff can. But then again, empowering women to take back the control over their bodies that's been slowly stolen from them is an awesome thing too. It's a tricky subject that Ricki Lake can't hope to cover in 90 minutes but she does just enough to light a spark in the minds of folks who just accept the status quo. Expand
  4. ADoctor
    Jun 22, 2008
    Typical Michael Moore like biased melodrama thats afraid of both sides of the story. the American college of OB/GYN develops standard of care protocols for the management of pregnancy, labor and deliver. they are based on sound the scientific principles of research that is transparent, available to the public, and reproducible. in the US, hospitals and OB/GYN's they employ follow those protocols because it makes logical sense to believe in scientific fact. if you want to have your baby in any other setting, its completely legal to do so. Don't muck up the story with inaccuracies as done in this pathetic effort. Expand