The Business of Being Born (2008) - full transcript

Birth: it's a miracle. A rite of passage. A natural part of life. But more than anything, birth is a business. Compelled to find answers after a disappointing birth experience with her first child, actress Ricki Lake recruits filmmaker Abby Epstein to explore the maternity care system in America. Focusing on New York City, the film reveals that there is much to distrust behind hospital doors and follows several couples who decide to give birth on their own terms. There is an unexpected turn when director Epstein not only discovers she is pregnant, but finds the life of her child on the line. Should birth be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potential medical emergency?

Abby Epstein:
DID YOU EVER CONSIDER
USING A MIDWIFE?

I NEVER DID.

I-- I WOULD NOT.

TO SAY I WAS EVEN FAMILIAR
WITH THE WORD-- I DON'T
EVEN KNOW IF I WAS.

I THOUGHT IT MEANT,
YOU KNOW, HAVING THE BABY
IN A BARN SOMEWHERE.

I DON'T EVEN KNOW
HOW I WOULD DESCRIBE
THE TYPE OF PERSON

THAT I WOULD THINK--
THAT WOULD HAVE A TYPE
OF BIRTH LIKE THIS.

Cara Muhlhahn:
SHE'S HAVING HER BABY
ON THE FULL MOON.

IT CERTAINLY LOOKS
LIKE A FULL MOON.

Abby:
WOULD YOU EVER HAVE
CONSIDERED USING A MIDWIFE?

PROBABLY NOT.
I LIKE THE DOCTOR
ASPECT OF IT.



IT'S JUST-- IT'S DONE.
IT'S SURGERY.

ONE, TWO, THREE,
YOU KNOW.

( quietly )
IT'S ME.

( whispering )
THE DOOR WAS OPEN
DOWNSTAIRS,

SO I DIDN'T HAVE TO RING.
HOW IS SHE DOING?

- YEAH. FEEL IT.
- RIGHT.

YOU CAN JUST PRETEND
I'M NOT HERE.

IF IT'S TOO EARLY,
IT'S TOO EARLY.

I'M JUST RIGHT THERE.
JUST DO WHATEVER
YOU NEED TO DO.

OKAY.

( moaning )

MATERNITY CARE
IN THE UNITED STATES

IS IN A CRISIS.

IT'S IN MANY WAYS
A DISASTER.



MEDICAL DECISIONS ARE
BEING MADE FOR MONETARY
AND LEGAL REASONS,

NOT BECAUSE THEY'RE GOOD
FOR THE MOTHER AND THE BABY.

Abby Wain:
TECHNOLOGY IS TECHNOLOGY.
IT'S NOT STOPPING.

THIS IS WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT.
SO IF YOU'RE GOING TO
HAVE GOOD STUFF,

YOU MIGHT AS WELL USE IT
TO GET THE BEST OUTCOME.

Tina Cassidy:
WE SHOULD CONSTANTLY
BE ASKING OURSELVES,

"IS THIS AN IMPROVEMENT
OR ARE WE MAKING
THINGS WORSE?"

Woman:
IF WE DON'T QUICKLY
TAKE AHOLD OF THIS,

WE'RE GOING TO LOSE
NORMAL BIRTH.

Michael Brodman:
I CALL IT "FEMINIST
MACHOISM,"

WHEN YOU'RE PUSHING
YOUR BABY IN A STROLLER
THREE MONTHS LATER,

TO SAY, "I DID IT
NATURALLY."

PERSONALLY, I DON'T THINK
IT'S IMPORTANT.

Elan Vital McAllister:
THERE IS SO LITTLE
UNDERSTANDING

OF HOW INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT
THIS PROCESS IS TO A WOMAN.

Eugene Declerq:
THERE'S SOMETHING GOING ON
IN THE NATURE OF CARE

IN THE UNITED STATES
THAT'S TROUBLESOME.

WOMEN HAVE BEEN
TOLD FOR YEARS NOW

THAT THEY'RE NOT RESPONSIBLE
FOR THEIR OWN BIRTH PROCESS.

Nadine Goodman:
BASICALLY, WHAT
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION

HAS DONE OVER THE LAST
40-50 YEARS

IS CONVINCE
THE VAST MAJORITY OF WOMEN

THAT THEY DON'T KNOW
HOW TO BIRTH.

MY FIRST INSTINCT IS,
"HOW MANY BIRDS HAD
TO DIE FOR THIS?"

Mayra:
THIS WOMAN COMES UP TO ME
AND SHE GOES,

"SO WHAT KIND OF BIRTH
ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE?"

AND I WAS LIKE,
"WHAT KIND OF QUESTION
IS THAT?"

YOU KNOW?
AND SHE SAID,

"WELL, WHEN ARE YOU GOING
TO BE INDUCED?"

AND I WAS LIKE, "ARE YOU--?
SHE'S REALLY ASKING ME THIS."

I WAS LIKE,
"I'M NOT GOING
TO BE INDUCED.

THE BABY'S GOING TO COME
WHEN HE'S GOOD AND READY."

- Woman: WOW.
- Mayra: AND SHE SAID,

"OH, WELL, I JUST HEARD
HOW NEW YORK WOMEN

ARE ALL SCHEDULING
THEIR BIRTHS

AND THEY'RE CALLING IT
'DESIGNER BIRTH.'"

I WAS LIKE,
"A DESIGNER BIRTH?"
AND SHE GOES,

"YOU KNOW,
WHEN YOU SCHEDULE
YOUR DELIVERY,

YOU SCHEDULE
YOUR CAESAREAN

AND THEN THEY
DO A TUMMY TUCK
RIGHT AFTERWARDS."

AND I WAS LIKE,
"WELL, THOSE ARE WOMEN

WHO HAVE MUCH BIGGER PARTIES
TO ATTEND TO THAN I DO."

( laughs )

Man:
IT'S ALREADY SO GORGEOUS,
I DON'T WANT TO SAY.

( all cheering )

Jen:
I STARTED GOING
TO A MIDWIFE

FOR WELL WOMAN CARE
SEVEN YEARS AGO.

UNLESS I HAD A PROBLEM,

I CAN'T IMAGINE
GOING BACK TO AN OB/GYN.

THE CARE IS GREAT

AND THERE ARE
A LOT OF THINGS
THAT JUST MAKE SENSE.

WHAT WAS STARTLING
TO ME WAS THAT

IF YOU'RE DELIVERING
WITH A TRADITIONAL DOCTOR

YOU MIGHT GO IN
AND HAVE A PLAN

AND IT MIGHT CHANGE
PRETTY QUICKLY

BASED ON A DOCTOR'S DECISION
WHICH DIDN'T SEEM NECESSARILY--

UNLESS THERE WERE
MEDICAL REASONS FOR IT,
YOU SHOULD AT LEAST TRY

- TO STICK TO YOUR
ORIGINAL PLAN.
- YEAH.

HI THERE. THANK YOU.

Ricki Lake:
WHEN I HAD MY FIRST CHILD,
I WENT IN

WANTING THE NATURAL
BIRTH EXPERIENCE.

AND I ENDED UP
HAVING A LOT OF

WHAT I CONSIDERED TO BE
UNNECESSARY INTERVENTION.

AND I FELT THAT
I WAS SOMEHOW CHEATED

FROM THE EXPERIENCE
THAT I INITIALLY
WENT AFTER.

AND I FELT
LIKE IF I WERE EVER
TO DO IT AGAIN,

I WANTED TO DO THINGS
DIFFERENTLY.

AND SO I STARTED
TO GET MY HANDS ON
EVERYTHING I COULD.

I WENT TO BIRTH CONFERENCES.
I STARTED TO GET EDUCATED
ON ALL THESE ISSUES.

THIS IS THE ONE
THAT ACTUALLY GOT ME
SO INSPIRED.

I SAW HER SPEAK
AT THE BIRTHING CONFERENCE.

- LOOK AT THIS BOOK.
- OH MY GOD.

LOOK AT HER,
WITH HER BRAIDS.

IT DOESN'T GET MORE
GRANOLA THAN THIS,

- BUT SHE BLEW MY MIND.
- REALLY?

MAYBE WE CAN INTERVIEW HER
WHEN SHE'S DOING A CONFERENCE
OR SOMETHING.

IT BECAME MY PASSION
AND I WANTED TO DO
A PROJECT

WHERE I COULD EXPLORE

THE SYSTEM OF BIRTH
IN THIS COUNTRY

AND RAISE QUESTIONS

AS TO, YOU KNOW,
ARE WE BENEFITING
MOTHERS AND BABIES OR NOT?

CAN I PUT THE TUBE
IN THE BABY'S HEAD?

- ONLY IF I CAN DO
THE EPISIOTOMY.
- OKAY.

VERY FEW DOCTORS
HAVE EVER OBSERVED

A NORMAL BIRTH
IN MEDICAL SCHOOL
OR IN A HOSPITAL.

IT'S ALMOST
AN OXYMORON.

Abby:
HOW OFTEN DO YOU
GET TO SEE

A FULLY NATURAL BIRTH?

- RARELY.
- ALMOST NEVER.

WELL, I ALWAYS SAY
THAT MIDWIVES

DO A BETTER JOB
AT THE NORMAL DELIVERIES
THAN WE DO.

FOR A NORMAL, LOW-RISK
WOMAN IT'S OVERKILL
GOING TO A DOCTOR.

IT'S JUST TOO MUCH.
THE DOCTOR'S NOT REALLY

EXCITED ABOUT THINGS
WHEN THEY'RE NORMAL.

THE E.E.G.,
THE B.P. MONITOR

- AND THE A.V.V.
- YES, CERTAINLY, DOCTOR.

AND GET THE MACHINE
THAT GOES "PING!"

BECAUSE OBSTETRICIANS
ARE SOCIALIZED TO SEARCH
FOR PATHOLOGY,

THEY OFTEN SEE PATHOLOGY
WHERE IT DOESN'T EXIST.

THEY FIND PATHOLOGY
BECAUSE THEN THEY HAVE
SOMETHING TO DO.

CLEAR!

AN OBSTETRICIAN
IS A TRAINED SURGEON

AND USUALLY
VERY VERY GOOD

AT WHAT HE OR SHE DOES.
AND THANK GOODNESS
WE HAVE THEM.

I'M SO GRATEFUL
THAT WE HAVE OBSTETRICIANS.

THEY'RE SURGEONS.

THEY SHOULD BE DOING SURGERY
ALL DAY EVERY DAY
WHEN IT'S NEEDED.

THEY SHOULD NOT BE
DOING NORMAL BIRTHS

'CAUSE THEY'RE NOT
TRAINED IN IT.

THEY HAVE NO IDEA
HOW TO DO IT.

EVERYWHERE ELSE
IN THE WORLD

THAT'S WHAT THEY DO.

YOU CAN GO
TO GREAT BRITAIN,

YOU CAN GO TO FRANCE,
GERMANY, SCANDINAVIA,

AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, JAPAN--

GO TO ALL THE HIGHLY
DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

WHERE THEY ARE LOSING
FEWER WOMEN AND FEWER BABIES

AROUND THE TIME OF BIRTH,
AND WHAT DO YOU SEE?

YOU SEE MIDWIVES
ATTENDING

70 OR 80%
OF ALL THE BIRTHS.

AND THE DOCTORS
ARE THERE TO TAKE CARE

OF THE SMALL
PERCENT THAT DEVELOP
THE COMPLICATIONS.

THAT IS A PROVEN SYSTEM
EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD

AND THE UNITED STATES
STANDS ALONE.

Eugene Declerq:
THE UNITED STATES
IS RANKED POORLY

IN TERMS OF
INFANT MORTALITY.
IF YOU LOOK ONLY

AT THE SEVEN COUNTRIES
THAT HAD AT LEAST 400,000
BIRTHS, IT'S LAST.

ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS
THAT'S MADE IS

THAT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE
DIFFERENT WOMEN,

THAT WE HAVE MORE
HIGH-RISK WOMEN.

BUT THIS BLAMING OF WOMEN
IS FARCICAL.

IT'S NOT ABOUT MOTHERS.

IT'S ABOUT THE WAY
WE TREAT THE CARE

IN THE UNITED STATES.

BUT NOBODY EVER WANTS
TO ADMIT

THERE'S A DIFFICULTY
INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM.

Ina May Gaskin:
THIS IS THE OUTCOME
WHEN YOU'RE

A CENTURY OR SO POST-MIDWIVES.
YOU LOSE A LOT OF KNOWLEDGE.

AND WE'RE
THE ONE COUNTRY--

WHEN BIRTH WENT
INTO THE HOSPITAL,

THE MIDWIVES DIDN'T
GO THERE WITH IT.

Davis-Floyd:
IN THE EARLY 1900s PHYSICIANS,
MOSTLY IN THE EAST,

BUT ALSO IN THE DEEP SOUTH
TO SOME EXTENT,

WENT ON A VERY EFFECTIVE
SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST
MIDWIVES.

THEY WOULD MAKE POSTERS
SHOWING A BLACK GRANNY MIDWIFE

IN A VERY POOR HOME
DELIVERING A BABY

AND SAYING, "WOULD YOU
WANT THIS KIND OF PERSON
TO DELIVER YOUR BABY?"

Tina Cassidy:
IT WAS SORT OF
A CULTURAL SHIFT

WHERE MIDWIVES
WERE PORTRAYED

AS A VESTIGE
OF THE OLD COUNTRY.

THEY WERE DIRTY.
THEY WERE IGNORANT.
THEY WERE ILLITERATE.

AND SO HOSPITALS
WERE OFFERED

AS THIS GLEAMING,
WONDERFUL PLACE

WHERE YOU COULD GO
AND HAVE A BABY

THAT WOULD BE CLEANER
AND SAFER.

THE REALITY OF COURSE
WAS THAT GIVING BIRTH
WITH AN OBSTETRICIAN

AT THAT TIME WAS MUCH MORE
DANGEROUS THAN GIVING
BIRTH WITH A MIDWIFE

BECAUSE DOCTORS
WERE GRADUATING
FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL--

MANY OF THEM HAD NOT
WITNESSED A LIVE BIRTH

BEFORE THEY
SET OUT TO PRACTICE.

Nadine Goodman:
WHAT HAPPENED WAS

THE OB/GYN
SPECIALTY HOSPITALS
STARTED TO SPROUT UP

AND THOSE PROFESSIONALS
STARTED TO MULTIPLY

AND THEY NEEDED A JOB.
YOU KNOW, BUSINESS
TOOK OVER.

ALL OF A SUDDEN,
THE CONCEPT OF NORMAL CHANGED.

OBSTETRICS-- I'VE SAID IT
IN "THE NEW YORK TIMES"--

MY WIFE IS MAD AT THE
WAY I SAY IT, SO I'LL SAY IT
THE WAY SHE WANTS ME TO--

IT'S 98% NOT EXCITING

AND 2% SHEER TERROR.

AND YOU DON'T KNOW
WHEN THE 2% TERROR
IS GONNA HAPPEN.

AND IT GOES FROM BEING
COMPLETELY NORMAL
TO 2% TERROR.

AND WHEN YOU'RE IN A HOSPITAL--
AND I DON'T LIKE HOSPITALS
IN GENERAL,

THE IDEA,
THEY'RE NOT HEALING PLACES
IN GENERAL,

BUT THEY ARE GOOD
FOR WHEN YOU HAVE
THAT TERROR.

MY ISSUE IS, FOR THOSE WOMEN
THAT HAVE THE NORMAL--

THE 90% THAT HAVE
NO COMPLICATIONS,

THEY COME TO THE HOSPITAL
AND THEY'RE PUT
THROUGH THESE--

IT'S THE SYSTEM
WHERE THEY'RE FLAT
ON THEIR--

- IT IS TOTALLY THAT.
- IF THEY WANT A NATURAL
BIRTH,

IF THEY WANT
TO HAVE A VAGINAL BIRTH,
ALL THESE THINGS ARE

- STACKED UP AGAINST THEM.
- ABSOLUTELY.

THEY'VE TOLD WOMEN,
"COME TO US.

WE'LL TAKE CARE
OF EVERYBODY'S BIRTH.

IT DOESN'T MATTER
WHAT KIND OF BIRTH YOU WANT.

WE'RE OPEN TO ANYTHING."
AND THEN YOU GET THERE
AND YOU REALIZE,

"NO, THE HOSPITAL SYSTEM
IS REALLY SET UP ONE WAY,

TO HANDLE
ONE KIND OF BIRTH.

AND YOU JUST GET PUT THROUGH
THAT SYSTEM.

AND IT'S A FIGHT TO TRY
TO NOT GET PUT THROUGH
THAT SYSTEM.

OH, SHE HAS TWO TO THREE 90?
EXCELLENT. ON PITOCIN.

THIS IS PITOCIN,
WHICH IS THE MEDICATION

GIVEN THROUGH THE I.V.
THAT CAUSES CONTRACTIONS.

ROOM 2,
INDUCTION IS DOING FINE.

JUST CHECK
THAT SHE'S ON PIT.

HOW MUCH DEMEROL
WERE YOU GONNA GIVE?

ROOM 3,
BEING INDUCED.

GIVE THE EQUIVALENT
OF STADOL.

MAKE SURE WE'RE GOING UP
ON THE PIT.

JUST MAKE SURE
THAT SHE'S ON PIT

AND THAT SOMETHING'S HAPPENING
WITH HER INDUCTION.

"PIT HER" MEANS
BASICALLY INSTRUCTING
THE NURSE TO START PITOCIN.

I ASKED TO KEEP
UPPING THE PIT.

PROBABLY ABOUT
90% OF OUR PATIENTS
AT SOME POINT

ARE ON SOME TYPE OF
AUGMENTATION.

SHE'S NOT ANYWHERE
NEAR ADEQUACY, SO WE HAVE TO
KEEP UPPING THE PIT.

IF YOU'RE NOT
MAKING THAT CHANGE
IN THAT SEGMENT OF TIME

THAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR,
THEN WE'RE GONNA TRY TO
FACILITATE THINGS.

MAYBE START PIT.

UP HER PITOCIN.
PIT AT 6:30.

HOSPITALS ARE BUSINESSES.

THEY WANT THOSE BEDS
FILLED AND EMPTIED.

THEY DON'T WANT
WOMEN HANGING AROUND
IN THE LABOR ROOM.

Woman: YOU HAD THIS
FEELING AT THE HOSPITAL
WHERE THERE WAS A LIMIT

TO HOW LONG YOU CAN BE
IN LABOR,

LIKE, "OH, IT'S BEEN
12 HOURS, SO NOW YOU
NEED PITOCIN."

I DID KNOW
THE PRESSURE WAS ON

AS WE GOT INTO 20 HOURS,
21 HOURS.

AT THE HOSPITAL
I HAD PITOCIN. AND THEN
THAT MADE ME ITCHY,

SO THEY GIVE YOU
SOMETHING ELSE FOR
YOUR ITCHING.

I KNEW ONCE THEY
GAVE YOU THAT PITOCIN,
YOU NEED THE EPIDURAL.

FEEL BETTER
NOW THAT YOU HAVE
THE EPIDURAL?

OH MY GOD, YES.

AND THEN THINGS
COME ON REALLY STRONG,

SO THEN YOU GET
AN EPIDURAL.

AND IF YOU'RE UNCOMFORTABLE,
WE CAN ALWAYS GIVE YOU MORE.

IT WAS VERY EASY
FOR THEM TO START
DOING THINGS

THAT WE HADN'T REALLY
WANTED THEM TO DO,

LIKE PITOCIN AND WHATNOT,
BECAUSE I ALREADY HAD
THE I.V. IN MY ARM.

THEY DON'T REALLY
GIVE YOU THE OPTION.

AND THEN ANOTHER EPIDURAL
'CAUSE NOTHING WAS HAPPENING.

YOU'RE HAVING YOUR
CONTRACTIONS RIGHT NOW.

I DON'T FEEL THE PAIN.

AUTOMATICALLY,
THEY WERE LIKE,
"OH, YOU NEED AN EPIDURAL.

WE'LL GET THE
ANESTHESIOLOGIST."

SO SHE'S GETTING
HER EPIDURAL.

THEN WE'LL PUT IN
THE FOLEY BULB
FOR INDUCTION.

THEY GAVE ME ANOTHER DRUG
CALLED STADOL.

17 HOURS OF PITOCIN.

THEY GAVE ME THAT
AND I REMEMBER THAT MADE ME--

I WAS LIKE,
"WHAT'S GOING ON?
THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG."

CERVIDIL IS THE END.
ONCE CERVIDIL HAPPENED,

ANY CHANCE
BEYOND THAT WAS GONE.
IT WAS GONE.

I HATED THAT DRUG.

IT SEEMED TO ME
THAT ONCE THEY STARTED
AN INTERVENTION,

THEY ALL JUST KIND OF--
IT WAS A DOMINO EFFECT.

THE WHOLE THING IS LIKE
A BIG SNOWBALL EFFECT.

Davis-Floyd:
IN THE HOSPITAL,
YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED

TO HAVE
VERY LONG LABORS.

SO IF YOU'RE NOT
DILATING RAPIDLY,

WHICH YOU'RE LIKELY
NOT TO DO

IF YOU GET
AN EPIDURAL EARLY IN LABOR,
YOU WILL BE GIVEN PITOCIN.

THEY'LL PUT
THE PITOCIN IN THE I.V.
IT WILL FLOW INTO YOUR VEINS.

PITOCIN MAKES CONTRACTIONS

LONGER AND STRONGER
AND CLOSER TOGETHER.

SO THEN THE PAIN OF LABOR
IS MUCH WORSE.

SO YOU GO WITH THAT
FOR A WHILE BECAUSE YOU HAVE
THE EPIDURAL,

BUT EVENTUALLY THE PAIN
OF THE CONTRACTIONS

IS OVERWHELMING THE EPIDURAL.
YOU NEED TO UP THE EPIDURAL.

AND THEN LABOR SLOWS DOWN
MORE BECAUSE OF THAT,

SO THEN YOU
NEED MORE PITOCIN.
NOW YOU'RE NOT FEELING

THE PAIN OF
THE EXTRA PITOCIN BECAUSE
YOU'VE GOT THE EPIDURAL,

BUT YOUR BABY
IS GETTING COMPRESSED
BLOOD AND OXYGEN SUPPLY

BECAUSE PITOCIN CONTRACTIONS
LAST SO LONG AND
ARE SO STRONG,

THE BLOOD AND OXYGEN
FLOW TO THE BABY
IS COMPROMISED.

SO THEN THE BABY
IS LIKELY TO GO
INTO DISTRESS

AND THEN YOU'RE SENT OFF
FOR AN EMERGENCY CESAREAN

FROM THE BABY IN DISTRESS
FROM CONTRACTIONS INDUCED
BY THE PITOCIN

WHICH WAS NECESSITATED
BY THE EPIDURAL.

Declerq:
STEP BY STEP,
ONE INTERVENTION LEADS

TO A SERIES
OF INTERVENTIONS.
AND THE NET RESULT IS,

THE MOTHER
FINALLY ENDS UP
WITH A CESAREAN.

AND EVERYBODY SAYS,
"THANK GOD WE WERE ABLE
TO DO ALL THIS INTERVENTION

TO SAVE YOUR BABY."
THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS
THAT IF THEY DIDN'T START

THE CASCADE OF INTERVENTIONS,
NONE OF THAT WOULD HAVE
BEEN NECESSARY.

THERE IS CLEARLY
AN ASSOCIATION

WITH INDUCTION OF LABOR
AND CESAREAN DELIVERY.

PEOPLE DON'T HAVE
THE INFORMATION.

WHEN YOU LOOK
AT OBSTETRICS IN GENERAL,

THERE'S BEEN A SERIES
OF VERY INTENSE
INTERVENTIONS

THAT PHYSICIANS
HAVE BEEN DOING

DAY IN AND DAY OUT
TO MILLIONS OF WOMEN

AND THERE'S NOT A MEDICALLY
JUSTIFIED REASON

FOR DOING THOSE THINGS.
EVEN COMMON SENSE--

I MEAN, THE IDEA
OF LYING DOWN

WITH YOUR LEGS UP
BEING THE MOST COMFORTABLE

OR LOGICAL POSITION
TO GIVE BIRTH--
YOU KNOW?

La Juana:
THE MORE YOU CAN
MOVE THROUGH YOUR LABOR

AND THE MORE
YOU CAN MOVE
WITH CONTRACTIONS,

THEY DON'T
SEEM AS INTENSE.
TO LAY STILL--

IT'S LIKE, "WHO WOULD WANT
TO DO THIS?

I JUST WANT TO
GET OUT OF THIS BED
AND MOVE MY HIPS."

Davis-Floyd:
THE LITHOTOMIC POSITION
IS THE MOST

PHYSIOLOGICALLY
DYSFUNCTIONAL POSITION

EVER INVENTED
FOR BIRTH

BECAUSE PUTTING THE MOTHER
FLAT ON HER BACK

LITERALLY MAKES
THE PELVIS SMALLER,

MAKES IT MUCH MORE
DIFFICULT FOR THE WOMAN

TO USE HER STOMACH MUSCLES
TO PUSH,

AND THEREFORE MAKES IT
MUCH MORE LIKELY

THAT AN EPISIOTOMY
WILL BE CUT

OR FORCEPS WILL BE USED
OR THE VACUUM EXTRACTOR
WILL BE USED.

( speaking Portuguese )

WHEN THE BABY GOES
IN THE WOMB,

SHE STARTS THE BIRTH
LIKE THIS

AND THEN GOES
LIKE THIS.

BUT WHEN HE FINDS
A LITTLE SPOT HERE
IN THE SPINE,

THEN HE NEEDS
TO DO LIKE THIS.

AND THAT MEANS
THAT THE MOTHER

PROBABLY IS GOING
TO SHAKE THE PELVIS.

AND THAT MEANS
THAT THE BABY'S MOVING.

AND THEN HE GOES
A LITTLE BIT MORE.

AND THEN HE NEEDS
TO DO IT AGAIN.

- PUSH. PUSH. PUSH.
- COME ON. THAT'S IT.

PUSH. PUSH. PUSH.

WOMEN HERE HAVE GIVEN UP
THEIR AUTONOMY ABOUT BIRTH.

WOMEN ARE SO AFRAID
OF BIRTH

BECAUSE YOU DO NOT HAVE

AN IMAGE OF WHAT BIRTH
LOOKS LIKE.

WOMEN IN AMERICA DON'T KNOW
WHAT'S NORMAL ABOUT BIRTH.

THEY WATCH "A BABY STORY."

THEY WATCH "MATERNITY WARD."
THEY WATCH THESE PROGRAMS.

I THINK
THERE'S A LOT OF FEAR

INSTILLED IN WOMEN
AROUND BIRTH.

Sylvie Blaustein:
EVERY BIRTH THAT
YOU SEE ON TELEVISION,

IT'S WOMEN SCREAMING

AND BEING RUSHED
DOWN THE HALLWAY

AND LOOKING IN ABSOLUTE
DIRE EMERGENCY.

SO WHY SHOULD
WOMEN FEEL CONFIDENT
ABOUT GIVING BIRTH

WHEN THE WHOLE CULTURE
IS TELLING THEM

THIS IS SCARY,
THIS IS DANGEROUS?

McAllister:
WOMEN EXPECT TO HAVE
TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES.

THAT'S WHY THEY'RE
ALL HAVING EPIDURALS--

BECAUSE THEY'RE TERRIFIED
OF WHAT THIS IS.

Ana Paula Markel:
THE BIRTHS ON TELEVISION
ARE VERY DRAMATIC.

I WOULD BE EXTREMELY
FRIGHTENED TOO

IF I SAW THESE
WOMEN STRAPPED.

AND THERE'S ALWAYS
SOME SORT OF DANGER--

THAT THE DOCTOR COMES IN
AND SAVES THE WOMEN.

MOMMY, THE BABY'S HEART RATE
IS GOING A LITTLE BIT
DOWN, OKAY?

AND I DON'T LIKE THAT.
SO NEXT CONTRACTION,

IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO PUSH
THE BABY OUT BY YOURSELF,

I WILL HELP YOU
WITH THE VACUUM.

Markel: OBVIOUSLY,
IF PEOPLE ARE PLAYING
THE YOUR-BABY'S-IN-DANGER CARD,

THAT'S IT.
THAT'S WHEN THE BATTLE
IS OVER.

MOMMY, WE NEED TO DELIVER
THIS BABY, OKAY?

LISTEN TO ME. YOU NEED TO
CONCENTRATE ABOUT YOUR
CONTRACTION. AND PUSH!

McAllister: THAT'S ONE
OF THE GREAT MANIPULATIVE
TECHNIQUES THAT ARE USED,

IS WHEN A WOMAN
STARTS TO QUESTION, 'WAIT,
WHY DO WE NEED TO DO THIS?

WAIT, IS THERE SOMETHING
ELSE WE CAN DO?"

THE FIRST THING YOU TURN TO IS,
"OH, IT'S FOR THE GOOD
OF THE BABY."

WHETHER OR NOT IT IS,
YOU'LL DO ANYTHING,

BECAUSE IF YOU
GO ON TO QUESTION IT,
WELL, THEN YOU'RE A BAD MOM,

YOU KNOW?
SO WHO'S GONNA DO THAT?

IT'S BEEN ABOUT TWO HOURS,

SO I RECOMMEND
A VACUUM-ASSISTED DELIVERY.

IT'S NOT AS IF
I'M JUST GONNA PULL
THE BABY OUT OF YOU.

I'M JUST GONNA ASSIST
IN YOUR EFFORTS,

'CAUSE IT'S TIME.

Susan Hodges:
YOU GET A ONE-SIDED
STORY.

AND IT'S VERY EASY
TO CONVINCE A WOMAN

TO HAVE THIS PROCEDURE,
THAT PROCEDURE,

ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THERE'S
A HUGE POWER DISPARITY.

- WHAT IS THE RISK
TO THE BABY?
- MINIMAL.

Hodges:
SO IF YOU'RE IN LABOR
AND THE DOCTOR SAYS,

"WOW, I THINK
WE NEED TO DO X,"

YOU'RE GONNA SAY,
"YEAH, WE'D BETTER DO X."

THE DOCTOR MAY THINK
HE'S OFFERING YOU AN OPTION,

BUT YOU HEAR THE EXPERT
ADVISING YOU TO DO SOMETHING.

- WHAT DO I DO?
- NOTHING, DEAR.

YOU'RE NOT QUALIFIED.
SEDATE HER!

NUMBER THE CHILD.
MEASURE IT, BLOOD-TYPE IT
AND ISOLATE IT!

I'm really,
I'm totally curious
about your project.

I'm sorry I don't know
more about your work,

who you are
and how long you've been
working on this project

and what got you interested
or fascinated.

OH, YEAH. WELL, I'M REALLY--
RICKI IS THE ONE WHO--

RICKI HAD TWO BIRTHS,
THE SECOND ONE AT HOME.

SO SHE BROUGHT ME INTO THIS
JUST AS A FILMMAKER.

AND THEN I JUST HAPPENED
TO GET PREGNANT.

Oh my God.
Are you pregnant now?

- YEAH.
- Oh, congratulations!

- That's awesome.
- THANK YOU.

ONE OF THE REASONS I WANTED
TO DO THIS PROJECT IS

I WANTED TO EXPLORE,
YOU KNOW--

FOR ME, HAVING
THE TWO VERY DIFFERENT
BIRTH EXPERIENCES,

BOTH REALLY AMAZING
AND BEAUTIFUL--

BUT FOR ME, IT WAS
JUST AS MUCH A PRIORITY

TO HAVE THE MEMORY
OF THE PROCESS

OF BEING PREGNANT
AND DELIVERING AND
THE RITE OF PASSAGE

AND REMEMBERING EVERYTHING,
FEELING EVERYTHING.

AND SO MANY OF MY PEERS

AND WOMEN IN OUR SOCIETY,
THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THAT.

THEY JUST WANT THE END RESULT
OF THE HEALTHY BABY
IN THEIR ARMS.

AND THEY DON'T CARE
HOW IT GOT THERE.

AND THAT'S SOMETHING
I REALLY WANTED TO EXPLORE

BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE
SO MANY WOMEN
ARE MISSING

THIS AMAZING
OPPORTUNITY

AND THIS LIFE-ALTERING
EXPERIENCE.

I FEEL LIKE SO MUCH
OF WHO I AM TODAY

COMES FROM THAT EXPERIENCE,
YOU KNOW?

Oh, I know.
It's hugely
transformative.

And I think you're going
to be transformed
by your birth,

- like it or not.
- RIGHT. RIGHT.

Markel:
A WOMAN,
AS LONG AS SHE LIVES,

WILL REMEMBER

HOW SHE WAS MADE TO FEEL
AT HER BIRTH.

THE WAY I'VE EXPLAINED
BIRTH SOMETIMES--

AT LEAST MY PERSONAL
EXPERIENCE-- TO PEOPLE,

IS LIKE YOU SWITCH ON
A LIGHT SWITCH AND YOU
GO TO THE MOON.

I MEAN, IT'S A DIFFERENT--
IT'S AN OTHERWORLDLY
EXPERIENCE.

NOTHING COMPARES
TO THE PRIVILEGE
OF GIVING LIFE

AND THE RESPONSIBILITY
OF THAT-- NOTHING.

SO IF YOU DON'T
HAVE THE REVERENCE
AND THE RESPECT FOR THAT,

WHERE DO YOU GO
FROM THERE?

Cara Muhlhahn:
A WOMAN REALLY DOESN'T
NEED TO BE RESCUED.

IT'S NOT THE PLACE
FOR THE KNIGHT IN
SHINING ARMOR.

IT'S THE PLACE FOR HER
TO FACE HER DARKEST MOMENT

AND LAY CLAIM
TO HER VICTORY,

SO THAT SHE CAN LAY
CLAIM TO HER VICTORY
AFTER SHE'S DONE IT, I THINK.

McAllister:
MANY PEOPLE
HAVE DESCRIBED BIRTH

AS A RITE OF PASSAGE.
AND IT IS CERTAINLY

A LIFE-ALTERING
EXPERIENCE.

AND IT CAN BE
A BEAUTIFUL,

INCREDIBLE, EMPOWERING
LIFE-ALTERING EXPERIENCE,

OR IT CAN BE
A DEVASTATING,

TRAUMATIC,

SCARRING,

LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY,
EXPERIENCE.

YEAH, WE CAN TAKE CARE
OF THAT.

MELVA?

( Melva crying )
I'M GOING TO GET DRUGGED.

Nurse #1:
MELVA, REMEMBER, NO CRYING.
YOU'VE GOT TO BREATHE, OKAY?

Nurse #2: MELVA, WE'RE
GONNA PUT YOU ON A STRETCHER
AND WE'RE GONNA TAKE YOU

- TO THE O.R., ALL RIGHT?
- Nurse #1: IT'S TIME, OKAY?

( Michel Odent speaking )

OH, THAT'S
WHAT I SHOULD DO--
TAKE FLATBUSH.

Cara:
I WENT TO NURSING SCHOOL
AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

AND THEN BECAME
AN OBSTETRICAL NURSE
IN THE LABOR ROOM

WHERE I PRACTICED
FOR FIVE YEARS.

AFTER THAT I WENT
TO MIDWIFERY SCHOOL

AND THEN PRACTICE
FOR A YEAR IN A HOSPITAL,

FOUR YEARS
OUT IN AN OUT-OF-HOSPITAL
BIRTHING CENTER.

AND THEN I BEGAN
MY OWN SOLO HOME-BIRTH
PRACTICE,

WHICH I'VE BEEN DOING
FOR THE LAST 10 YEARS.

I LIKE TO SEE
THEM IN THEIR HOMES.
THE RATIONALE FOR THAT IS,

FIRST OF ALL,
THEY'RE GONNA HAVE
THE BABY IN THEIR HOMES;

SECONDLY, I'D RATHER BE
ON THEIR TURF

THAN THEM BE ON
MY TURF.

I'D RATHER THEM BUILD
A COMFORTABLE AMBIANCE

THAT I GET TO SEE THEM IN
ON A REGULAR BASIS,

SO THAT BY THE TIME
IT'S TIME FOR THE BIRTH

I KNOW WHERE
THEIR ROOMS ARE--
THEIR BATHROOMS.

AND IT'S PRETTY MUCH JUST
THE PHILOSOPHICAL
UNDERPINNINGS

OF GIVING THE POWER
BACK TO THE WOMAN.

BREATHE IN DEEP
THROUGH YOUR MOUTH.

THAT SOUNDS REALLY CLEAR.
THAT'S REALLY GOOD.

ONE COLANDER IS GOOD.
I CAN USE THAT

TO PUT MY INSTRUMENTS IN--
THE GLOVES AND BLAH BLAH BLAH.

AND THEN THE PLACENTA--
I HAVE A LARGE FREEZER BAG.
IS THAT OKAY?

YEAH, I CAN DO TWO
GALLON-SIZE ZIPLOC BAGS.

IT'S BETTER
FOR NEW YORK CITY
FREEZERS

'CAUSE YOU CAN PUT
SOME MASKING TAPE ON,
WRITE "PLACENTA."

YOU CAN DO IT.
YOU WANNA GO FIRST OR YOU
WANT ME TO SHOW YOU FIRST

AND THEN YOU TAKE
A TURN?

- Girl: YOU GO FIRST.
- OKAY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
PRETTY BIG?

- ( La Juana laughing )
- THINK IT'S READY
TO COME OUT?

- I THINK SO. DEFINITELY.
- YEAH.

Cara:
I DO BELIEVE THAT WOMEN
WHO CHOOSE HOME BIRTH,

THEY DO SHARE SOMETHING.
IT COULD BE JUST A FEELING

THAT SHE KNOWS HOW
SHE WANTS TO DO THINGS.

AND THEN I THINK
WHEN SHE'S IN LABOR,

SHE CAN
INTERACT WITH HER LABOR
IN A DIFFERENT WAY

THAN IF EVERYBODY
IS DOING THINGS TO HER

AND MAKING DECISIONS
ABOUT HER.

BABY.

Cara:
COME OUT, BABY,
BABY GIRL.

- Gregor: IT'S WARM.
- Cara: YEAH, I CHECKED.
IT IS WARM.

( moaning )

THAT'S REALLY CLOSE.
THAT'S GREAT.

( moaning )

( Odent speaking )

- PUSH IT, COME ON.
- Boy: HEY, MAMA.

- MAMA.
- NO NO NO NO NO.

YEAH.
IT'S COMING.

THERE SHE IS.

Boy: BABY.

- BABY.
- LET SOMEBODY ELSE
LOOK AT THE TIME

'CAUSE I DON'T--
OKAY, LET ME SEE.

- BABY.
- MAKE SURE SHE'S
OUT OF THE WATER.

- LET ME JUST SEE HER FACE.
- ( boy laughing )

OKAY, GOOD.
I GOT IT.

( boy laughing )
BABY.

( Cara chuckles )
YOU'RE DONE.

SHE'S FINE.

IT'S OKAY.
DO WHATEVER
YOU NEED TO DO.

I'M JUST GONNA
KEEP AN EYE ON HER--
PART OF MY JOB.

- La Juana: HI, HONEY.
- Boy: HI.

HI.
BE CAREFUL.

- THE CORD'S A LITTLE SHORT.
- YEAH.

Mayra:
I WENT ONLINE

AND I FOUND THAT NEW YORK
HOSPITALS

HAD SOME OF THE HIGHEST
CESAREAN RATES
IN THE NATION.

THAT ACTUALLY REALLY
SURPRISED ME. I GUESS
I EXPECTED NEW YORK WOMEN

TO BE MORE LIKE,
"HEY, I'M TAKING CHARGE."

SO I WAS SURPRISED
AND I WAS SCARED.

I MEAN, I KNEW
WHAT INTERVENTIONS
I WAS OKAY WITH

AND THEY'RE
PRETTY MUCH ZERO.
YOU KNOW, I MEAN,

I REALLY UNDERSTAND
THAT THINGS CAN GO WRONG

DURING PREGNANCY,
JUST LIKE WITH
ANYTHING ELSE,

BUT I DON'T WANT THAT
TO BE PRECIPITATED,
SO TO SPEAK.

I SAID, "DAVID,
THIS ISN'T LOOKING GOOD."

AND THAT'S WHEN I STARTED
TO INTERVIEW MIDWIVES
IN THE CITY.

I JUST FEEL LIKE
I TRUST MY BODY.

- Cara: THAT'S GREAT.
- AND I REALLY JUST
KIND OF WANT TO--

AND I MEAN,
I HAVE A FEELING

THAT THIS IS KIND OF
THE WAY YOU RUN THINGS
ANYWAY,

BUT I JUST WANTED
TO LET MY BODY DO
WHAT IT'S GONNA DO AND THEN--

- WELL, IT SO DOES.
- OKAY.

AND THE TRUTH IS,
I DON'T EVEN RUN THINGS.

YOUR BODY RUNS THINGS
AND IT'S RESPECTING THAT.

AND THEN I'M LIKE
THE GUARDIAN OF SAFETY

AND THE WITNESS
OF YOUR PROCESS.

I REALLY DO
FIRMLY BELIEVE

OFTENTIMES THAT
THE BODY IS

SMARTER THAN ME.
AND I'M NOT THAT DUMB.

I SPOKE HER YESTERDAY.
SHE DID NOT ATTEND

- THIS APPOINTMENT TODAY.
- BUT YOU WERE ABLE
TO REACH HER HERE?

- YES.
- OKAY, I'LL CALL HER.

REMEMBER, THAT TONGUE RING--
LET ME SEE--

- HAS TO COME OUT.
- --HAS TO COME OUT
BEFORE DELIVERY.

YOU DIDN'T PUSH THAT LONG
TO HAVE THIS 9-LB BABY.

I MEAN, YOU DID
A FABULOUS JOB.
I WAS SO IMPRESSED.

A LOT OF WOMEN WALK IN
WITH THE IDEAS THAT--
"I DEFINITELY

WANT AN EPIDURAL" OR
"I DON'T WANT ANYTHING"

OR "MAYBE JUST A LITTLE
BIT OF SEDATION."

AND IT'S OKAY.
SHE HAS OPTIONS.

I KNOW YOU WANT
TO KIND OF GO NATURAL
AND DO EVERYTHING NORMAL.

THAT'S FINE.
WE'RE GONNA TAKE IT
ONE STEP AT A TIME, OKAY?

THAT'S ALL WE CAN DO--
ONE CONTRACTION AT A TIME.

NEXT THING YOU KNOW,
THIS BABY WILL BE OUT,

YOU'LL BE BREASTFEEDING
AND LAUGHING UP
A STORM, OKAY?

OH YEAH, THEY ALL COME OUT
ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

I HAVE THREE
BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS
AND UNFORTUNATELY,

I WASN'T ABLE
TO HAVE A MIDWIFE.
I WAS HIGH-RISK.

SO I HAD AN M.D.
AND HE WASN'T WITH ME
THE WHOLE TIME.

HE CAME IN
TO DO THE DELIVERY
AND HE WOULD LEAVE.

AND I KNEW THEN

THAT THERE'S GOTTA BE
A DIFFERENT WAY.

Abby:
YEAH, YOU WERE SAYING
YOU'VE NEVER MISSED A BIRTH.

YEAH, I DON'T MISS BIRTHS.
I MISSED ONE ON 9/11.

I COULDN'T GET BACK
INTO THE CITY AT ALL.

- THAT'S THE ONLY
ONE YOU MISSED?
- THAT'S THE ONLY ONE I MISSED.

THE BABY'S HEAD
IS COMING DOWN DOWN DOWN.

AND EVENTUALLY THAT
PRESSURE WILL JUST STAY.

I'D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT
THAT BEFORE YOU DO YOUR
LITTLE SQUAT THING.

WOMEN COME
TO ME ALL THE TIME
THAT HAVE HAD BIRTHS

IN A TRADITIONAL
OB/GYN SETTING.

AND IT IS A TOTALLY
DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE.
AND THEY SPREAD THE WORD.

BUT UNFORTUNATELY,
IT'S JUST NOT ENOUGH
TO TURN THIS AROUND FOR US.

YOU WANNA GO IN?
I'LL SLIDE IN.

YOU GO IN.

WE'RE GOING
TO 28th AND 8th, PLEASE.

CAN I TELL YOU SOMETHING?
IT IS SO HARD TO FIND
THIS BIRTH STUFF.

- REALLY?
- OH MY GOD, LIKE IT
DOESN'T EXIST.

- IS THE RESEARCHER
STILL DOING STUFF?
- YEAH.

THAT WAS, LIKE,
TWILIGHT SLEEP CRIBS.

WOW. IT LOOKS LIKE
A TORTURE CHAMBER.

AND LOOK AT WHAT
THEY DID TO THEM.
IT WAS LIKE A STRAIGHTJACKET.

- Ricki: OH MY GOD.
- LOOK AT THAT.

THEY BLINDFOLDED THEM.

- WHAT YEAR IS THIS?
- THIS IS IN THE '20s.

Davis-Floyd:
THE DRUG SCOPOLAMINE
WAS INVENTED

IN GERMANY
IN THE EARLY 1900s.

AND AMERICAN WOMEN
FOUND OUT ABOUT IT.

REMEMBER
THAT AT THAT TIME

WOMEN WERE
STILL BEING TOLD

THAT THE PAIN
OF CHILDBIRTH
WAS THE CURSE OF EVE

AND THAT IT WAS
BECAUSE OF EVE'S SIN
IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN

THAT WOMEN
HAD TO SUFFER
DURING CHILDBIRTH.

SO YOU CAN IMAGINE
HOW THE MODERN

LIBERATED FEMINIST ATTITUDE
AT THE TIME

WOULD BE, "I CERTAINLY
DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER.

AND IF THERE ARE
DRUGS AROUND THAT KEEP ME
FROM HAVING TO SUFFER,

THEN I'M GONNA
GO FIND THOSE DRUGS
BECAUSE I'M A MODERN WOMAN.

WOMEN THOUGHT
THAT IT TOOK AWAY

PAIN DURING CHILDBIRTH,
BUT IT DOESN'T.

IT ACTUALLY JUST
TAKES AWAY YOUR MEMORY
OF THE EXPERIENCE.

SO SCOPOLAMINE
SPREAD RAPIDLY
ACROSS THE UNITED STATES

AND BY THE 1960s
ALMOST EVERYONE WAS HAVING
"TWILIGHT SLEEP."

NOW IT DOES
TAKE AWAY MEMORY,

BUT IT ALSO TAKES AWAY
SELF-CONTROL.

IT TAKES AWAY
SELF-AWARENESS.

SO WOMEN SCREAMED
AND TRIED TO CLIMB
THE WALLS

AND SPIT
IN PEOPLE'S FACES

AND TRIED TO CLAW
THE FACE OF THE DOCTOR
OR THE NURSE.

SO THE HOSPITALS
DEVELOPED A TECHNIQUE

OF STRAPPING WOMEN
TO THE HOSPITAL BED
WITH LAMBSWOOL,

BECAUSE IF YOU USED
ANYTHING ELSE IT WOULD
LEAVE MARKS ON THEIR WRISTS

AND THEIR HUSBANDS
WOULD WANT TO KNOW
WHAT WAS DONE TO THEM.

AND SO WOMEN
WERE LITERALLY
STRAPPED TO BEDS

AND LEFT THERE
FOR DAYS,

SOMETIMES IN THEIR OWN
POOP AND PEE.

IT WAS A VERY
BRUTAL PERIOD

IN AMERICAN
BIRTHING HISTORY.

Marsden Wagner:
IF YOU LOOK AT OBSTETRICS
FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS,

WHAT DO YOU FIND?
IN THE 1930s

THEY WERE GIVING X-RAYS
ON EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN

TO MEASURE HER PELVIS.

AND THEN IN THE 1940s
THEY DISCOVERED

THAT THAT CAUSED
THE BABY TO HAVE CANCER,

SO THEY HAD
TO STOP IT.

AND THEN IN THE 1950s
AND '60s

THEY HAD ANOTHER DRUG
CALLED THALIDOMIDE

WHICH CAUSED
BABIES TO BE BORN
WITHOUT ARMS AND LEGS.

AND THEN THEY HAD
TO STOP THAT.

BUT YOU SEE,
IN EVERY CASE
IT WAS AFTER THE FACT.

IN THE 1990s
THEY WERE GIVING CYTOTEC

TO INDUCE LABOR
IN WOMEN

WHO HAD HAD
A PREVIOUS CESAREAN.

AND THEY ENDED UP
WITH HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS

OF RUPTURED UTERUSES

AND MANY MANY MANY
DEAD BABIES

BEFORE THEY FOUND OUT

FINALLY IN 1999
THAT THEY SHOULDN'T DO THAT.

BUT YOU SEE,
THERE'S NOT A GOOD HISTORY

IN OBSTETRIC PRACTICE

OF CAREFUL STUDY

OF THE LONG-TERM
EFFECTS

OF ALL THESE
INTERVENTIONS.

THIS IS WHY,

IF YOU REALLY WANT
A HUMANIZED BIRTH,

THE BEST THING
TO DO

IS TO GET THE HELL
OUT OF THE HOSPITAL.

Burkhardt:
HISTORICALLY,
THE HOME BIRTH MOVEMENT

GREW APACE AGAIN AFTER
IT WAS BASICALLY CUT OUT

FROM UNDER THE MIDWIVES
AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

DURING THE HIPPIE ERA
WHEN THERE WERE COMMUNES.

AND THE COMMUNES MIMICKED
IN MANY WAYS

IMMIGRATION COMMUNITIES.

THEY MIMICKED
EXTENDED FAMILIES.

AND SO MIDWIVES
WERE REBORN,

IN A SENSE,
DURING THAT ERA.

Gaskin:
WE WANTED THE CHOICES.

WE DIDN'T WANT SOMEBODY
ELSE MAKING THE RULES

THAT DIDN'T
UNDERSTAND US,

THAT THOUGHT WERE MACHINES
INSTEAD OF PEOPLE

WITH FEELINGS--
'CAUSE WE KNEW

THAT FEELINGS
AFFECTED BIRTH.

Davis-Floyd:
THAT WAS PART OF
WHAT SPARKED

THE NATIONAL
CHILDBIRTH MOVEMENT,
WAS THE REACTION

AGAINST THE ABUSES
OF THE SCOPOLAMINE ERA,

THE TWILIGHT SLEEP ERA,
BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE
REALIZED

THE ONLY WAY TO GET AWAY
FROM THAT IS TO GET OUT OF
THE HOSPITAL ALTOGETHER.

JUST AS WE WERE
GETTING SOMEPLACE,

TECHNOLOGY CAUGHT UP
TO US AGAIN.

THE ELECTRONIC
FIELD MONITOR

GOT INTRODUCED
INTO HOSPITALS

STARTING IN 1970,
AND BY THE END
OF THE '70S

IT WAS PERVASIVE
IN HOSPITAL BIRTH.

AND THE CESAREAN RATE
IN THAT DECADE

WENT FROM 4%
TO 23 %.

Gaskin:
SEE, WHEN I STARTED

ONLY 5% OF WOMEN
IN THE U.S. HAD CESAREAN.

10 YEARS PASSED
AND IT WAS UP TO ABOUT
ONE WOMAN IN FOUR.

I COULDN'T
BELIEVE IT.

AND WE IN OUR GROUP

DIDN'T NEED
THE FIRST CESAREAN

UNTIL BIRTH
NUMBER 187.

SO WE WERE GOING
THE OTHER WAY

FROM THE REST
OF THE COUNTRY

AND WE WERE
DOING THAT SAFELY.

- HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE.
- GOOD.

SO THAT TOLD ME
SOMETHING ABOUT--

THE PELVIS
OF THE AMERICAN WOMAN

IS JUST QUITE FINE,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

AND WE DIDN'T HAVE
ANOTHER C-SECTION

UNTIL BIRTH 324.

THE NUMBER
OF AMERICAN WOMEN

GIVING BIRTH
BY CESAREAN SECTION
IS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH.

THESE DAYS A RECORD
NUMBER OF MOMS

ARE GIVING BIRTH
BY CESAREAN SECTION.

Female anchor:
CESAREAN SECTIONS
HAVE NOW BECOME

THE MOST COMMON
MAJOR SURGICAL PROCEDURE
PERFORMED ON WOMEN.

Wagner:
AS WE ALL KNOW,
THE CESAREAN SECTION RATE

IN THIS COUNTRY
IS GOING UP UP UP.

WHY?

WHAT IS REALLY REALLY
UNDERNEATH THIS?

CESAREAN IS EXTREMELY
DOCTOR-FRIENDLY

BECAUSE INSTEAD OF HAVING
A WOMAN IN LABOR

FOR AN AVERAGE OF 12 HOURS
SEVEN DAYS A WEEK,

IT'S 20 MINUTES
AND I'LL BE HOME
FOR DINNER.

THERE WAS A STUDY THAT
CAME OUT MANY YEARS AGO

WHICH SHOWED
THAT IF YOU LOOKED

OVER A 24-HOUR PERIOD,
THE PEAKS IN C-SECTIONS WERE

4:00 IN THE AFTERNOON
AND 10:00 AT NIGHT.

SO IT'S
OBVIOUS THAT THE 4:00
IN THE AFTERNOON IS,

"IT'S LATE
IN THE DAY.

I DON'T KNOW
WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.
I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE."

AND THE 10:00 AT NIGHT IS,
"I DON'T WANT TO BE
UP ALL NIGHT."

SOME DOCTORS
HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE

OF PATIENTS' INTERESTS
IN CESAREAN

AND PUT IT ON THE TABLE
AS AN OPTION.

AND CERTAINLY IT MAKES
THE OBSTETRICIAN'S LIFE

POTENTIALLY
MUCH LESS COMPLICATED.

McAllister: WE FOCUSED
ON THE METROPOLITAN
NEW YORK AREA.

AND AS BAD AS
THE MANHATTAN RATES WERE,

FOR INSTANCE,
IN SUFFOLK COUNTY

THEY'VE GOT
AT LEAST TWO HOSPITALS
THAT ARE OVER 40% RATE.

WESTCHESTER HAS ONE
THAT'S CLOSE TO 45%.

I MEAN, THESE ARE HUGE,
CRAZY NUMBERS.

AND IT'S JUST AMAZING.
AND THE PUBLIC DOESN'T
KNOW ABOUT IT.

THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM IS,
UNFORTUNATELY, LITIGATION.

THERE IS A DOCTOR
WHO TRAINED ME WHO
USED TO SAY,

"THEY CAN NEVER FAULT YOU
IF YOU JUST SECTION 'EM.
JUST SECTION 'EM."

THERE'S DEFINITELY A STANDARD
THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY

IF YOU DID THE C-SECTION,
YOU DID EVERYTHING
THAT YOU COULD

TO GET THE BABY OUT.
SO THE C-SECTION MAY BE
DONE FASTER.

AND THAT'S PRETTY MUCH
THE CURRENT THINKING,
IT SEEMS LIKE, IN OBSTETRICS.

IT'S LIKE, "OH,
WE MIGHT GET SUED.

SO LET'S JUST SEE
IF WE CAN DO C-SECTIONS
ON EVERYBODY."

IT'S A GROWING CRISIS.

SOMEBODY CLEARLY IS GONNA
HAVE TO STEP IN

AND STOP THE TREND,
OR ELSE WE'RE GONNA
GET TO 100%.

PICK A DATE, WRITE IT
ON YOUR CALENDAR,

HAVE A BABY.

Brodman:
AND THE FACT THAT IT'S
SORT OF A STATUS-Y THING,

YOU KNOW, AT THE COCKTAIL
PARTY TO SAY,

"OH, I JUST HAD
AN ELECTIVE C-SECTION."

AS LONG AS
AN ELECTIVE C-SECTION
IS LIKE HAVING A PRADA BAG,

THEN THAT'LL
DRIVE IT ALSO.

Cassidy:
THIS WHOLE CONCEPT
OF WOMEN

BEING TOO POSH TO PUSH
IS A FAIRLY RECENT
PHENOMENON.

YOU COULD ATTRIBUTE IT

TO VICTORIA SPICE,
THE POSH SPICE GIRL

WHO HAS HAD
THREE C-SECTIONS

AROUND HER HUSBAND'S
SOCCER SCHEDULE.

BRITNEY SPEARS
HAS HAS TWO.

THE LIST GOES ON.

I THINK IF CELEBRITIES
WHO DID HAVE
HOME BIRTHS,

WHO USED MIDWIVES,
SPOKE UP ABOUT IT MORE,

WE WOULD HAVE
A MORE BALANCED PICTURE.

IF ANGELINA JOLIE HAD HAD
A WATER BIRTH IN AFRICA,

I THINK THAT MORE WOMEN
WOULD HAVE BEEN CLAMORING

FOR WATER BIRTHS,
I REALLY DO.

Brodman:
WOMEN HAVE GOTTEN
SO ACCUSTOMED

TO PLASTIC SURGERY
IN THIS COUNTRY.

I MEAN, 180-YEAR-OLDS
ARE GOING IN

AND HAVING ALL KINDS
OF THINGS DONE

BECAUSE, AGAIN,
THAT'S WHERE THIS
COUNTRY'S GOING.

SO WHEREAS IN 1990
THE THOUGHT OF A DOCTOR

DOING SURGERY ON YOU
IS "OH MY GOD,"

NOW WOMEN ARE HAVING
SO MUCH SURGERY DONE

THAT THE THOUGHT OF
AN ELECTIVE C-SECTION

IS TO THEM JUST MORE
PLASTIC SURGERY.

AND I COULDN'T GET
ENOUGH INFORMATION.

I WAS JUST BLOWN AWAY

BY WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW
THE FIRST TIME AROUND.

AND THEN I KNEW
EVEN BEFORE I PLANNED
THE SECOND PREGNANCY

I WANTED IT DIFFERENT.
I WANTED TO DO IT
ON MY TERMS.

YOU KNOW,
WHEN I KNEW YOU THEN,
I WAS JUST TELLING ANA

- THAT I JUST THOUGHT...
- ..."WHAT A WEIRD THING?"

YEAH. I JUST THOUGHT,
"IT SEEMS A LITTLE CRAZY."

I WAS LIKE,
"THIS IS JUST A PART
OF RICKI'S OTHER SIDE.

THIS IS
SOME OTHER HIDDEN,

RADICAL, REBEL
PART OF RICKI." BUT--

IT'S WEIRD.
IT'S NOT ME.

- I LOVE PAIN MEDICATION.
- BUT IT'S NOT--

I LOVE NUMBING MYSELF.
I DON'T WANT TO FEEL
A HEADACHE.

I LIKE--
I'M THAT PERSON TOO.

BUT WHEN IT CAME
TO GIVING BIRTH,
IT WASN'T AN ILLNESS.

IT WASN'T SOMETHING
THAT NEEDED TO BE NUMBED.

IT NEEDED TO BE
EXPERIENCED, YOU KNOW?

Ricki:
AND I REMEMBER I WAS
IN A LOT OF PAIN.

I WAS IN-- DURING JUST
ABOUT THE WORST PART,

ALMOST THE WORST PART,
I DIDN'T LOSE MY SENSE
OF HUMOR.

BECAUSE I'M LIKE...
( moans )

...YOU KNOW, NAKED,

AND AN AMBULANCE
WENT BY.

AND I WAS LIKE,
"THAT'S MY RIDE.
GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.

I WANT TO GO
TO THE HOSPITAL.
I WANT MY EPIDURAL."

I DON'T KNOW
IF I CAN DO THIS.

MY MIDWIFE REMINDED ME
OF ALL THE REASONS
I WAS AT HOME

AND WHAT I WANTED TO AVOID
AND THE GIFT I WAS
GIVING MY BABY.

AND I WAS LIKE, "YES."
AND I GOT THROUGH
THAT CONTRACTION,

AND YOU'RE ONE STEP CLOSER.
YOU'RE ONE STEP CLOSER,
YOU KNOW.

YOU'RE DOING THIS.
THIS IS YOU HAVING A BABY.

OKAY.

WE ENDED UP IN MY BATHROOM,
STANDING--

I WAS LEANING UP
AGAINST THE TOWEL RACK.

I'M PUSHING.

YEAH YEAH. AWESOME.
LET'S GO, THE BABY.

REALLY?
YOU THINK?

AT A CERTAIN POINT
I JUST GAVE IN
TO THE PAIN.

I JUST LET GO
AND SURRENDERED

AND THAT'S WHEN THINGS
WENT REALLY QUICKLY.

OKAY, LET IT GO.

YOU KNOW, AT ONE POINT
SHE SAID, "REACH DOWN

AND PULL OUT YOUR BABY."
AND I DID.

( panting )

RICKI, OPEN YOUR EYES.
REACH DOWN AND PICK UP
YOUR BABY.

- NO WAY.
- PICK HIM UP.
PICK HIM UP.

- YEAH.
- OH MY GOD.
OH MY GOD.

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.
OH MY GOD.

HI. HI.
OH MY GOD. HI.

OH MY GOD.
OH MY GOD.

OH MY GOD,
YOU'RE GORGEOUS.

OH MY GOD.
HI. HI.

WHY IS HE NOT CRYING?

LOOK AT HIS EYES.
SEE HIS EYES?
HE'S OPENING THEM.

- OH, LOOK AT HIM.
- THE PEEPERS.

- HEY, SWEETIE.
- WE HAD A BABY.

WE SURE DID.

Ricki:
THAT IS JUST
EVERYTHING TO ME.

I MEAN, I COULD START
SOBBING RIGHT NOW.

IT WAS SO EMPOWERING.

AND IT WAS LIKE,
"FINALLY.

THIS IS
WHAT I WAS AFTER.

THIS IS WHAT I WANTED
FOR MY CHILD."

( crying )

YEAH! THAT'S WHAT
WE'RE LOOKING FOR.

OH MY GOD. HI.

DOES HE HAVE
10 FINGERS AND 10 TOES?

- CAN HE BE IN THE WATER?
- YEAH.

HERE YOU ARE.
LET'S SAY YOU'RE

IN THE MIDST OF
A CONTRACTION, RIGHT?

TAKING SOME NICE,
DEEP BREATHS

AND TRYING TO KIND OF
FOCUS ON THAT

IS VERY INTEGRAL,
GENERALLY, TO COPING.

David:
WHEN THE HOME BIRTH CAME UP,
I WAS LIKE,

"YEAH, LET'S DO THIS."
WE TALKED ABOUT

THE BENEFITS
OF THE HOME BIRTH,

THE BENEFITS OF
BREASTFEEDING AFTER,

WHAT WERE
THE EFFECTS ON THE BABY.
I WAS VERY SUPPORTIVE OF IT.

- YOU FEEL IT?
- YEAH.

THAT'S THE HEAD.
SO WE KNOW THE HEAD
IS DOWN.

AND IT'S GONNA
STAY DOWN.

Mayra:
YOU KNOW,
IT WAS LIKE, "WOW,

THIS IS REALLY SOMETHING
THAT I HADN'T THOUGHT OF."

WHEN YOU JUST
AREN'T EXPOSED TO IT,

YOU JUST KIND OF
BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEAR
UNTIL YOU SEE IT FOR YOURSELF.

THE RESEARCH ON HOME BIRTH
IS PRETTY CONSISTENT

IN SHOWING THAT
IN A SUPPORTED
ENVIRONMENT--

AND "SUPPORTED" MEANS
SOUP TO NUTS--

THAT PEOPLE
THERE ARE TRAINED,
THAT THERE'S BACKUP,

THAT THEY CAN
TRANSFER

TO THE HOSPITAL QUICKLY--
ALL OF THOSE THINGS--

THAT THE OUTCOMES
OF HOME BIRTHS ARE
VERY VERY GOOD,

CONSISTENTLY
AT LEAST AS GOOD,

AND GENERALLY BETTER,
THAN THEY WOULD BE IN
A HOSPITAL BIRTH.

THE GIST OF ALL THE STUDIES
ARE THAT HOME BIRTH IS SAFE.

AND THEY HAVE SET
GUIDELINES BY WHICH
YOU HAVE TO DETERMINE

WHETHER OR NOT A PERSON
IS A GOOD CANDIDATE
FOR HOME BIRTH.

SO YOU HAVE TO LOOK
AT THEIR MEDICAL HEALTH.

YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THEIR
PREVIOUS PREGNANCIES.

AND THEN YOU HAVE TO BE
PREPARED IN LABOR

FOR THE EVENTUALITY
OF TRANSFER.

AND YOU HAVE TO MAKE
THE JUDGMENT CALL
IN TIME.

TO ME, DELIVERING A BABY
AT HOME, FOR INSTANCE,

WITH A MIDWIFE OR SOME
OTHER BIRTH PERSON,

IS LIKE ME SAYING TO YOU,
"OH, YOU DON'T HAVE TO WEAR

YOUR SEAT BELT
WHEN YOU'RE IN MY CAR
'CAUSE I'M A SAFE DRIVER."

WHAT SCARES ME
ABOUT HOME BIRTH

IS THAT I DON'T KNOW,
WOULD A HOME BIRTH HAVE
FETAL MONITORING?

BECAUSE I'M NOT
THAT IN TOUCH WITH IT
SINCE I DON'T DO IT.

SOME PEOPLE
HAVE THIS IMAGE
THAT A HOME BIRTH MIDWIFE

COMES WALKING
INTO SOMEBODY'S HOUSE
WITH A LITTLE TOWEL

THAT THEY ROLL UP
AND ASK THE MOTHER
TO BITE ON.

THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS,
THEY BRING PITOCIN,

OXYGEN,
EQUIPMENT FOR SUTURING,

FOR RESUSCITATION
OF THE BABY.

TRAINED HOME BIRTH
MIDWIVES

ARE INCREDIBLY SKILLED
AT WHAT THEY DO.

IN A POSTPARTUM HEMORRHAGE
YOU CAN LOSE

YOUR ENTIRE BLOOD SUPPLY
IN ABOUT FIVE MINUTES.

IF YOU THINK A MOTHER
HAS A HIGHER CHANCE
OF BLEEDING,

YOU HAVE
THE PITOCIN DRAWN UP,
YOU HAVE THE I.V. WARMED,

HERE, RIGHT BY THE SIDE.
YOU DON'T WAIT
TO GO GET IT.

Wain:
FETAL DISTRESS,
CORD PROLAPSE,

A FETAL BRADYCARDIA
THAT DOESN'T COME UP.

HOW ARE YOU GONNA GET
SOMEBODY SECTIONED

OR EMERGENTLY
DELIVERED FROM HOME?
IT'S NOT SO EASY.

PEOPLE THINK THAT WHEN
YOU DO BIRTH AT HOME

THAT YOU'RE NOT
NECESSARILY PREPARED
FOR THAT EVENTUALITY

AND THAT EVERYTHING
HAS TO GO GREAT.
BUT IT DOESN'T.

THE NETHERLANDS LOSES
FEWER WOMEN THAN WE DO.

THE NETHERLANDS LOSES FEWER
BABIES THAN WE DO.

AND ONE-THIRD
OF THEIR BIRTHS

ARE PLANNED HOME BIRTHS.

Woman:
SO HAVE YOU DECIDED

WHAT KIND OF STROLLER
YOU WANT?

THIS IS THE ONE
PAULO LIKED ON THE BEACH.

SO YOU REALLY ARE PLANNING
THE SECOND KID ALREADY?

NO, ACTUALLY THIS IS GREAT
TO GO SHOPPING.

LOOK AT THAT.
SHE CAN GO SHOPPING
BY HERSELF

AND PUT ALL THE CRAP
IN HERE.

- SO YOU DON'T HAVE
TO DO ANYTHING.
- EXACTLY.

- HI.
- Abby: DR. MORITZ,

SHE'S OUR EDITOR.

SHE'S MOONLIGHTING
AS A CAMERAPERSON TODAY.

- FINAL CUT PRO?
- AVID.

LOOK AT THAT.
YOU CAN SEE YOUR ABS STILL.
INCREDIBLE.

YOU KNOW WHAT?
THIS CHILD EXPLODED

- IN THE PAST FOUR WEEKS.
- THAT'S EXACTLY
WHAT HAPPENS.

BUT THERE'S A LOT OF
FLUTTERY DOWN HERE.

- THEN THE FEET MUST BE DOWN.
- MUST BE, RIGHT?

FLUTTERING DOWN AT THE BOTTOM--
THEN IT'S GOTTA BE
THE FEET DOWN THERE.

- LAST TIME WITH HIS HEAD--
- YEAH, YOU CAN FEEL A LOT

- WHEN HE'S MOVING.
- IF YOU FEEL FLUTTERING

DOWN IN THE VAGINA,
DOWN IN THE BOTTOM--

- YEAH, HE'S STILL--
- THEN IT'S GOTTA BE
THE FEET.

LET'S SEE.
LET'S SEE.

YEAH, SURE ENOUGH.
WE DON'T EVEN NEED
THE MACHINE.

SEE? BUTT DOWN.

THOSE ARE THE FEET DOWN THERE.
YEAH, HIS BUTT'S RIGHT
DOWN IN THE BOTTOM.

- Paulo: OH, I SEE.
- IN TERMS OF GROWTH,

YOU'RE RIGHT
ON THE GROWTH.

I MEAN, YOU'RE RIGHT
IN THE 50% PERCENTILE.

AND TWO POUNDS
THREE OUNCES.

- SO BIRTHWISE--
- YEAH.

AND OF COURSE WE'RE
MAKING THIS MOVIE,

SO WE'VE SEEN A LOT MORE
THAN OTHER PEOPLE.

Paulo:
IT HAS BECOME MORE DIFFICULT
TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO.

BUT WE REALLY ARE VERY--

WE'RE REALLY CONSIDERING
GOING THE HOME BIRTH
WITH CARA--

- GO. I THINK IT'S FINE.
- --WHICH I KNOW
YOU'VE SAID--

- I'LL BE YOUR BACKUP.
- THANK YOU.

YEAH YEAH.
NOW I DON'T KNOW
WHAT THAT MEANS--

BEING YOUR BACKUP.
I MEAN, I HAVE TO
TALK TO CARA.

- YEAH.
- I DON'T THINK I CAN BE

- AT YOUR HOUSE.
- Paulo: RIGHT.

- HOPEFULLY WE WOULDN'T NEED--
- BUT I CAN BE AVAILABLE.

AND I CAN DEFINITELY
MAKE IT THAT,

GOD FORBID YOU COME
INTO THE HOSPITAL--

NOT GOD FORBID,
BUT IF YOU COME IN

EVEN BECAUSE YOU'RE TIRED
OR YOU JUST WANT TO DO IT,

THAT YOU'RE NOT GONNA BE
TREATED AS A LEPER.

- RIGHT.
- THAT WOULD BE THE WORD.

SO YOU DON'T COME IN
AND PEOPLE LOOK
AT YOU AND SAY,

"OH, HOME BIRTH, HUH?

- YEAH, WHY DON'T YOU
SIT AND WAIT?"
- RIGHT.

SO YOU DEFINITELY WON'T BE
TREATED LIKE THAT,

- OBVIOUSLY.
- RIGHT.

- BUT I SAY GO FOR IT.
- YEAH?

Abby:
'CAUSE IF WE CHANGED OUR
MINDS AT THE LAST MINUTE--

WELL, YOU CAN'T
CHANGE IT TOO TOO LATE.

NO, I DON'T MEAN IT
LIKE THAT, BUT I MEAN
SUDDENLY IF I WAS

- TO BREECH
AT FULL TERM OR SOMETHING--
- IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL.

WE WOULDN'T
KNOW THAT ANYHOW,
ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

I DON'T THINK
WE'RE GONNA HAVE
THOSE SURPRISES.

I'VE HAD MORITZ
BACK ME MANY TIMES.

AND, YOU KNOW,

I COULD GO
TO ST. VINCENT'S.
WE COULD GO TO MORITZ.

IT WOULD DEPEND ON WHAT
THE CIRCUMSTANCES WERE.

FOR ME IT WAS JUST LIKE
I WAS THINKING,

"WELL, IF WE DO HOME BIRTH
AND WE TRANSFER,

I'D LOVE THE IDEA
OF POSSIBLY BEING ABLE

TO TRANSFER
TO A BIRTH CENTER.

- RIGHT.
- YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

- AND YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO--
- BUT IF YOU TRANSFER,

YOU'RE NOT GOING
TO A BIRTH CENTER

FOR THE MOST PART.
YOU HAVE TO THINK
LIKE THAT.

IF YOU TRANSFER,
IT'S BECAUSE...

- BUT MAYBE--
- ...YOU NEED INTERVENTION.

RIGHT.
I MEAN, MY ONLY FEAR--
WHICH IS NOT EVEN A FEAR--

IS THAT I WOULD SUDDENLY
IN THE HEAT OF LABOR
CHANGE MY MIND,

YOU KNOW, AND SAY,

"OH MY GOD,
I THINK I'M DYING.

I NEED TO BE
IN A HOSPITAL."
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

YOU'RE MEETING THE MIDWIFE
WHO'S GONNA WRITE THE BOOK

"HOME BIRTH MIDWIFE
BEGGED FOR A CESAREAN."

- I KNOW.
- 'CAUSE I DID.

Cara:
I WAS REALLY MISERABLE.

( moaning )

AS MUCH AS I'VE HAD
TRAINING IN MIDWIFERY

AND AS MUCH AS
I'VE BEEN CARING
FOR WOMEN IN LABOR

FOR THE LAST 25 YEARS
OF MY LIFE

I WOULD HAVE TO SAY
THAT I WAS NOT YOUR
MODEL PATIENT.

THE ONLY GOOD THING
I HAVE TO SAY IT'S LIKE
IT'S LABOR IN A DAY.

I WOULD HAVE WALKED
MYSELF OVER TO--

IN FACT, I'M KIND OF
SURPRISED THAT I DIDN'T.

"OKAY, YOU GUYS STAY HERE.
I'LL BE BACK WITH
THE BABY."

SO WHILE I WAS TRYING
TO ESCAPE LABOR,

I MET A PLACE THAT I THINK
A LOT OF WOMEN MEET
IN LABOR--

( moaning continuously )

--THE ROCK
AND THE HARD PLACE.

( moaning )

EVERY SINGLE WOMAN

WHO'S HAVING NATURAL BIRTH
FEELS LIKE THAT AT
A CERTAIN POINT.

THE ROCK IS,
"I'M NOT PUSHING BECAUSE
IT HURTS TOO MUCH."

( mumbling )

AND THE HARD PLACE IS,
"OKAY THEN,

YOU'RE STAYING
PREGNANT FOREVER AND
IT'S GONNA HURT FOREVER."

SO IT'S THE MOST
INFURIATING PLACE TO BE.

THAT PAIN IS
JUST AWFUL.

IN THE PROCESS I TOLD
EVERYBODY AROUND ME THAT
THEY WEREN'T HELPING ME...

DON'T MOVE.
DON'T MOVE.

...THAT I WANTED THEM
TO GET OUT AND
GET MY MOTHER,

WHOM I DIDN'T EVEN
WANT AT THE BIRTH.

I TOLD THEM,
"YOU'RE NOT HELPING ME.
GET OUT."

THAT WAS JUST ME.
EVERYBODY DOESN'T
SAY THAT.

( sobbing )

WHEN I SAT IN THE BATHTUB
AND LOOKED AT THE FAUCET
AND SAID,

"IT'S ME. I'M EITHER DYING
OR I'M PUSHING
THE BABY OUT."

( moaning )

THE FACT THAT I HAD
A DIFFICULT LABOR...

( crying )

...IS A GOOD THING
FOR ME AS A MIDWIFE

BECAUSE I FEEL
THAT I KNOW

HOW HARD IT CAN GET
FOR A WOMAN WHO'S GOING
THROUGH LABOR.

AND WHEN I WENT
BACK TO WORK,

THE FIRST WOMAN
I LOOKED AT IN LABOR
I WAS OF NO HELP TO,

I JUST LOOKED AT HER
AND I SAID,

"I KNOW.
I KNOW."

AND I WAS LOST
IN THE EMPATHY

'CAUSE I FELT SO SORRY
THAT SHE WAS ON THE OTHER
SIDE OF THAT PLACE

AND I COULDN'T--
AND THAT SHE HAD
TO BE THERE.

NO, BABY, NO NO.
OKAY.

( woman cheers )

( panting, muttering )

10:12.

( baby crying )

I CAN NEVER HEAR ANYTHING
ON THESE THINGS.

TRY LIKE THIS.
CLOSE YOUR EYES.

Mayra:
THE WHOLE INSURANCE THING
HAS BEEN KIND OF CRAZY.

I CALLED AND I SAID,
"I'M PREGNANT."

"OKAY, WHO'S YOUR
DOCTOR?"

"WELL, I DON'T HAVE A DOCTOR.
I'M GOING WITH A MIDWIFE."

AND THEY WERE LIKE,
"OKAY, BUT WHICH HOSPITAL?"

EVERYONE I TALKED TO THERE
WAS JUST KIND OF LIKE,

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN,
A HOME BIRTH? BUT AREN'T YOU
GONNA HAVE A DOCTOR?"

I'M LIKE, "NO.
WHY IS THIS SUCH A--?

I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY
THIS IS SUCH A DIFFICULT
THING."

EVERYBODY WAS ACTING
LIKE I HAD A THIRD EYE
OR SOMETHING.

OFFICIALLY 37 WEEKS.
WE'LL TO THE BETA STREP
CULTURE TODAY.

Mayra:
WHAT I REALLY HAD A HARD TIME
UNDERSTANDING IS

THAT IT'S CHEAPER
TO HAVE A BIRTH
WITH MIDWIVES--

YOU'D THINK
THEY WOULD BE
ALL OVER IT.

Carol Leonard:
THERE'S SOME HOSPITALS
IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

WHERE A NORMAL SPONTANEOUS
VAGINAL DELIVERY

IS AROUND $13,000.

HELLO. I'M CHARGING
$4,000 FOR EVERYTHING.

THAT INCLUDES
THE POSTNATAL CARE--

EVERYTHING INCLUDING
THE FACILITY FEE.

SO IT KIND OF
MAKES YOU WONDER
WHAT THEIR AGENDA IS.

THE INSURANCE COMPANIES

ARE PART OF
THE ESTABLISHMENT.

AND SO WHEN
THE OBSTETRICIANS

WHO ARE GIVING THE ADVICE
TO THE INSURANCE COMPANIES

SAY THAT HOME BIRTH
IS DANGEROUS

OR THAT MIDWIVES
ARE NOT AS SAFE
AS DOCTORS

AND ALL OF THIS
NONSENSE,

THE ESTABLISHMENT C.E.O.

IN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES
BELIEVES THEM.

Davis-Floyd:
I'VE INTERVIEWED
A LOT OF NURSE MIDWIVES

AND I NOTICED THAT AS SOON
AS THEIR PRACTICE REACHES

MORE THAN 30% OF THE WOMEN
IN A CERTAIN HOSPITAL,

THE DOCTORS WILL START
FIRING THEM BECAUSE THAT'S
TOO MUCH COMPETITION.

Burkhardt:
THE A.M.A. AS THE TRADE
ORGANIZATION FOR PHYSICIANS

HAS A VERY CLEAR
PUBLICLY STATED STANCE

THAT THEY WILL NOT
SUPPORT ANYTHING

THAT ALLOWS
FOR NON-PHYSICIANS

TO DO ANYTHING
THAT PHYSICIANS DO.

I MEAN, YOU WANT
TO TALK BIG LOBBY,
BIG DOLLARS--

THEY CAN KIND OF CALL
A LOT OF SHOTS.

I HAVE MADE SEVERAL ATTEMPTS
TO GET THIS CLAIM REPROCESSED.

WHEN I EXPLAINED TO THEM
THAT WE WERE CLEARLY COVERED,

SHE AGREED THAT THE CLAIM
NEEDED TO BE REPROCESSED,

BUT OF COURSE
THE COMPUTERS WERE DOWN.

THIS IS WHAT
WE GO THROUGH,

- ALL TO GET PAID MINIMALLY.
- HI, MILLIE.
IS PORTIA AVAILABLE?

WHEN I CALLED THE HEADS
OF THE INSURANCE COMPANY,

I MET WITH THEM
FACE TO FACE
AND HE SAID,

"OH, OUR HANDS ARE TIED."
I THOUGHT, "NO,
THEY'RE NOT.

THEY'RE NOT.
YOU JUST DON'T CARE."

IT'S NOT ABOUT HEALTHCARE.
IT'S NOT ABOUT SAVING
MONEY FOR CONSUMERS.

AND IT'S NOT ABOUT
WOMEN AND BABIES,
THAT'S FOR SURE.

WE GOT THE AUTHORIZATION.

CLAIMS DEPARTMENT IS NOT
READING THE CLAIM CORRECTLY.

IT'S LIKE I'M BEGGING YOU
TO GET PAID.

YOUR MEMBERS DID NOT
HAVE TO BEG US TO COME IN
AND GET TREATMENT.

YOU'LL TRY
AND FIND HER TOMORROW.

WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
GIVING MOTHERS OPTIONS,
WHAT ISN'T TALKED ABOUT

IS THE DEGREE
TO WHICH OPTIONS ARE BEING
CLOSED OFF TO MOTHERS.

ONE EXAMPLE IS
BIRTH CENTERS,

WHICH AT THIS POINT IS
ALMOST AT AN ALL-TIME LOW.

Cathy Tanksley:
MY DECISION TO NOT RENEW
MY PRACTICE

CAME FROM A LOT OF
DIFFERENT PLACES.

NUMBER ONE,
WE WERE GETTING LETTERS
FROM OUR INSURANCE COMPANIES

SAYING THAT THEY'RE GOING
TO INCREASE THE RATES.

WE AREN'T MAKING
A LIVING ANYMORE.

YOU KNOW, A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY,
"OH, IT'S AN ECONOMIC BATTLE."

OF COURSE IT'S
AN ECONOMIC BATTLE.

IT'S A BILLION-DOLLAR
INDUSTRY.

Wagner:
WE SPEND TWICE AS MUCH

IN THIS COUNTRY
PER BIRTH

THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY
IN THE WORLD.

THIS IS ONE OF THOSE
VERY RARE INSTANCES

WHERE CHEAPER
IS TRULY BETTER.

Moritz:
IT WORKS IN ALL
THE OTHER COUNTRIES.

AND WHEN YOU LOOK
AT OUR DATA, THE AMOUNT
OF MONEY WE SPEND

VERSUS THE OUTCOMES
WE GET, IT SUCKS.

I MEAN, THERE ARE
COUNTRIES THAT SPEND

A THIRD OF WHAT WE HAVE
AND HAVE LOWER INFANT
MORTALITY.

SO MORE DOESN'T MEAN MORE
IN THIS CASE.

AND MAYBE
LESS IS MORE.

RUN. RUN.

Paulo:
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING
SO FAST?

'CAUSE SHE'S SITTING
IN THE CAR.

SORRY TO MAKE
A PREGNANT WOMAN RUN.

( snarling )
STOPPING WAS PAINFUL.

( chuckles )
GET IN.

YOU KNOW, ABBY,
THIS FEEL A LITTLE BIT

LIKE LIVING ON THE EDGE
IN A WAY,

BUT TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH,
THERE'S A LOT WORSE
EDGES TO LIVE ON.

AND WHEN YOU'VE BEEN THERE,
THIS DOESN'T FEEL
THAT SCARY.

- ( Mayra moaning )
- Cara: WASHCLOTHS.
SOMEBODY USED A WASHCLOTH.

SHE HAS SOME OVER HERE
FOR THAT PURPOSE.

Wagner:
IF I AM LECTURING

TO A ROOMFUL
OF OBSTETRICIANS

AND I PUT THE WORD "HOME"
AND THE WORD "BIRTH"

TOGETHER IN THE SAME
SENTENCE,

THERE'S JUST HYSTERIA
IN THE ROOM.

AND THEN WHAT
I ALWAYS DO IS SAY,

"OKAY OKAY, I WANT
EVERYONE ON THIS ROOM

WHO HAS EVER
ATTENDED A HOME BIRTH
RAISE YOUR HAND."

NOBODY.

THEY'VE NEVER SEEN
A HOME BIRTH.

SO THEN I SAY,
"YOU'RE ALL LIKE
THE GEOGRAPHERS

WHO ARE TRYING
TO DESCRIBE

A COUNTRY
THEY'VE NEVER BEEN TO

BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO
AFRAID TO GO THERE."

( moaning )

NOW IT HURTS SO MUCH.

( muttering )

( chuckling )
SORRY.

- Cara: OH, YES, MAMA.
- ( Mayra grunting )

YES YES.
OH, THAT'S SO CLOSE.

WE'RE SEEING MUCH
MORE NOW. LET'S SEE.
OOH, I WANT TO SEE MORE.

- OH MY GOODNESS.
- IT HURTS.

LET ME SEE IF I CAN SEE
THIS BABY COMING.

LET ME SEE.

YES, I CAN.
I CAN SEE HIS HEAD.

VENGA, MI AMOR.

( Mayra screaming )

THERE YOU GO.
YOU'RE HAVING A BABY.

OH MY GOD.

OH MY GOD,
MY BABY.

OH, MY BABY.
OH, MY BABY.

- OH, MY BABY. OH MY GOD.
- Cara: LET'S GET THE TOWEL.

- ( baby crying )
- David: I'VE GOT IT, BUT--

- OH, MY BABY.
- Cara: IT'S OKAY,
I'LL GET IT.

OKAY, GET THAT TOWEL,
POPPA.

NO, SIT DOWN. DON'T GET UP.
HERE, JUST GIVE ME THE TOWEL.

- ( baby crying )
- OH, NO NO NO.
IT'S OKAY.

IT'S OKAY.
IT'S OKAY.

THERE YOU GO.

OH, SWEETIE.
IT'S OKAY.

McAllister:
IT'S INCREDIBLE
WHEN IT HAPPENS

AND YOU'RE
BY A WOMAN'S SIDE

AND SHE COMES TO THE END
OF THIS JOURNEY

AND SHE SAYS,
YOU KNOW,

"I KNEW I COULDN'T DO IT.
I KNEW I COULDN'T DO IT.

AND THEN I DID IT.
I HIT A WALL

THAT WAS HIGHER
THAN ANYTHING I'VE EVER

SEEN IN MY LIFE
AND I SCALED IT."

- I'M SO, LIKE...
- Cara: IT'S KIND OF A SHOCK.

- ...NOT BELIEVING THIS.
- IT'S OKAY.

David-Floyd:
YOU GET THE HIGHEST
OXYTOCIN RUSH

YOU'LL EVER HAVE
IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU
GIVE BIRTH NATURALLY.

YOU WILL GO INTO AN ALTERED
STATED OF CONSCIOUSNESS

AND BE IN
A KIND OF A STATE OF--
YES, THERE'S BLISS

AND YES, THERE'S PAIN
AND IT'S ALL TIED UP
TOGETHER.

AND YOU CANNOT
HAVE THE BLISS
WITHOUT THE PAIN.

AND IT'S THE INTANGIBLE
ESSENCE OF THAT

THAT WE HAVE
SO MUCH TROUBLE
CONVEYING TO WOMEN--

THAT IF THEY DIDN'T
GET TO, SO WHAT?

IT HURTS.

I KNOW IT DOES.
I KNOW IT DOES.

GREAT. YOU'RE GONNA
GET THROUGH THIS ONE

JUST LIKE THE LAST ONE.

THANKS.
IT HURTS.

Jen:
I THINK IT'S SO EXCITING.
IT WAS SUCH AN ADVENTURE.

LIKE, IT WAS
THE MOST ADVENTUROUS DAY
I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.

IT TRUMPS THE WEDDING
DAY, I HAVE TO SAY.
AND WE BOTH AGREE.

( crying )

I MEAN,
IT'S CRAZY TO SAY.

IT'S A DAY
WHERE YOU'RE GOING

THROUGH SO MUCH PAIN
AND SO MUCH EMOTION.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS
WHERE YOU KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE,

WHERE YOU'RE EXPERIENCING
SOMETHING UNIQUE IN LIFE.

YEAH, THAT'S
THE BABY'S HEAD.

( grunting )

Woman:
OKAY. OKAY.

THAT'S THE BABY'S HEAD.

Woman:
HEY, JEN, REACH DOWN
AND TAKE YOUR BABY.

- ( baby crying )
- ( Jen exclaiming )

THERE YOU ARE.

OH MY GOD.
HI, DARLING.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

I'M SO GLAD
YOU'RE OUT.

HI.

- Frank: THAT WAS GREAT.
- HI, BEAUTIFUL BABY.

( Jen cooing )

YOU WANT
TO TAKE A LOOK?

HI. OH MY GOD.

Jen:
YOU HAVE THAT NATURAL HIGH
THAT PEOPLE DESCRIBE.

YOU JUST-- YOU FEEL
SO ACCOMPLISHED.

NOTHING COMPARES
TO THIS.

Burkhardt:
IF I COULD DO THAT,
I COULD DO ANYTHING.

AND TO ME, THAT'S
THE POWER OF BIRTHING.

AND THAT IS WHAT WE ARE
TAKING AWAY FROM WOMEN.

LOOKS GOOD.
AND JUST SUPPORT,
YEAH, UNDERNEATH.

McAllister:
AND THAT'S WHAT DID IT
FOR ME, YOU KNOW--

IT WAS SEEING THE ABUSES
THAT HAPPEN DAILY

AND THAT
ARE NOT EVEN BASED

ON GOOD SCIENCE
OR GOOD MEDICINE.

THEN WHEN YOU SEE,

"OH, THIS IS
WHAT IT COULD BE
IF YOU TRUSTED IT."

IF YOU BELIEVED
IN THIS WOMAN,

IF YOU BELIEVED
IN HER BODY AND
HER ABILITY,

THEN YOU CAN'T TOLERATE
WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW.

ACCUSATIONS TONIGHT
THAT SOME HOSPITALS

ARE NOT BEING
UPFRONT WITH PATIENTS
WHO ARE EXPECTING A BABY.

NEW YORK STATE LAW
SAYS THAT HOSPITALS
MUST GIVE EXPECTANT MOTHERS

INFORMATION ABOUT THE BIRTH
PROCEDURES IN THEIR HOSPITALS.

BUT A REPORT OUT TODAY CHARGES
THAT THE HOSPITALS ARE
IGNORING THE LAW.

ONE OF THE BIG PROBLEMS
IN THIS COUNTRY

IS THE INFORMATION
THAT IS GIVEN TO WOMEN.

THERE REALLY IS NOT
INFORMED CONSENT OBTAINED
FROM THESE WOMEN.

NOBODY TALKS ABOUT
ALL OF THE DOWNSIDE,

ALL OF THE THINGS
THAT CAN GO WRONG
IN A SECTION.

THE RISKS
OF A VAGINAL DELIVERY

ARE MUCH LESS
THAN A C-SECTION.

AND WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE
DON'T KNOW IS THAT C-SECTION
IS MAJOR SURGERY.

YOU KNOW, THE LITERATURE
IS VERY CLEAR

THAT HAVING A VAGINAL
BIRTH STATISTICALLY IS
THE BEST WAY TO GO.

THE FIRST C-SECTION
IN ALMOST EVERYONE

IS PERFECTLY SIMPLE.
IT'S THE SECOND,
IT'S THE THIRD,

IT'S THE FOURTH,
IT'S THE FIFTH C-SECTION

THAT POSES A HUGE RISK
TO THE MOM

IN TERMS OF
INJURY TO HER BLADDER,
INJURY TO THE INTESTINES.

WE'VE HAD PATIENTS
WHERE YOU GO IN AND
THE APPENDIX IS

RIGHT ON TOP OF THE UTERUS,
WHERE LOOPS OF BOWEL
ARE WRAPPED

AROUND THE UTERUS.
AND YOU HAVE TO CUT
THROUGH ALL OF THAT

BEFORE YOU CAN
EVEN GET TO THE BABY.
THERE IS BLOOD LOSS

THAT CAN'T NECESSARILY
BE CONTROLLED.

IT'S MAJOR SURGERY.
AND YET WE NOW PRESENT

CESAREAN SECTION
AS IF WE'RE CUTTING
YOUR FINGERNAILS.

IT'S ANOTHER THING TOO
THAT I THINK

PEOPLE AREN'T REALLY
TALKING ABOUT
SO MUCH NOW--

I KNOW SO MANY WOMEN WITH
C-SECTIONS WHO END UP WITH
REALLY BAD INFECTIONS

AND THEY'RE
BECOMING HARDER TO TREAT
WITH ANTIBIOTICS.

AND THAT'S ONE AREA WHERE I
FEEL LIKE WE'RE GOING BACK
IN TIME A LITTLE BIT,

BECAUSE HAVING AN INFECTION
THAT YOU CANNOT TREAT
IS SO SCARY.

Gaskin:
MOST OF THE DEATHS
THAT DO TAKE PLACE

IN THE UNITED STATES
HAPPEN FOR WOMEN

WHO WENT TO THE HOSPITAL.
HOW DO I KNOW THAT?

BECAUSE HALF A PERCENTAGE
OF WOMEN GIVE BIRTH AT HOME

AND YET OUR
DEATH RATE IS HIGHER THAN
SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.

WE HAVE AREAS
IN THE UNITED STATES
WHERE IT'S SKY-HIGH.

PEOPLE IN OUR CULTURE
SPEND MORE TIME
AND EFFORT

RESEARCHING TO BUY
A STEREO SYSTEM,

A CAR,
PROBABLY A CAMERA

THAN THEY DO CHECKING OUT
WHAT THEIR CHOICES ARE
FOR BIRTHING.

Wagner:
TODAY IN THE UNITED STATES

WE KNOW THAT THERE IS
SERIOUS INCREASE

IN MINIMAL
NEUROLOGICAL PROBLEMS
IN CHILDREN

AND IN ATTENTION DEFICIT
DISORDERS, IN AUTISM.

ALL OR THESE
THINGS ARE INCREASING
AT THE SAME PERIOD OF TIME

THAT WE'RE INCREASING
ALL THESE OBSTETRIC
INTERVENTIONS.

AND WE DON'T KNOW

AND MAYBE NEXT YEAR
OR NEXT DECADE

WE'LL DISCOVER
TO OUR HORROR

THAT WHAT HAPPENS AT BIRTH
IS VERY IMPORTANT

TO THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
OF THAT CHILD.

ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT WE THINK HAPPENS

DURING THE WHOLE
LABOR AND DELIVERY PROCESS

IS THAT
THE OXYTOCIN NEURONS

START SQUIRTING OUT
LOTS OF OXYTOCIN
IN THE BRAIN,

WHICH IS THE BONDING,
PROTECTIVE HORMONE.

AND THE OXYTOCIN TRAVELS
IN THE BLOOD STREAM
DOWN TO THE UTERUS

TO START TRIGGERING
CONTRACTIONS OF LABOR.

AND THAT'S WHEN THE SWITCH
TO THE MATERNAL
BRAIN CIRCUITS,

THE "MOMMY BRAIN"
GETS FLIPPED ON.

AND THE WHOLE
BRAIN COCKTAIL

OF HORMONES
AND NEUROCHEMICALS

HAS FOR MILLIONS OF YEARS
BEEN DEVELOPED

TO KEEP THE MOMMY
ABSOLUTELY RIVETED

ON PROTECTION
OF THE HELPLESS INFANT.

HE IS SO PRETTY.

LOOK AT HOW PRETTY
HE LOOKS.

Louann Brizendine:
ONE OF THE THINGS
TO REMEMBER IS

PITOCIN IS A SYNTHETIC
VERSION OF OXYTOCIN

THAT YOU PUT
INTRAVENOUSLY IN A WOMAN
WHEN SHE'S IN LABOR.

HOWEVER,
PITOCIN DOESN'T ACT

AS NATURAL OXYTOCIN
WOULD IN THE BRAIN.

SO THERE'S ALL KINDS
OF THINGS ABOUT MODERN
MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS.

SOMETIMES THEY
NEED TO BE DONE,
BUT THEY ALSO INHIBIT

THIS NATURAL
MATERNAL AGGRESSION
TO PROTECT THE BABY

AND TO NOURISH THE BABY
RIGHT AFTER BIRTH

THAT IS NORMAL FOR MAMMALS
AND FOR HUMAN MOMS.

( Odent speaking )

OH MY GOD, SO CUTE.
SO CUTE.

YOU DON'T EVEN LOOK--
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE
SIX MONTHS.

YOU DON'T LOOK BIG.

REALLY? BUT I THINK
IT'S HIS POSITION TOO,
YOU KNOW?

YEAH, YOU'RE JUST--
YOU'RE SMALL.
YOU'RE SO SMALL.

I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT
YOU WOULD LOOK REALLY
MUCH BIGGER

BECAUSE YOU'RE SO TINY
TO BEGIN WITH, YOU KNOW?

THIS ISN'T EVEN POPPED UP
ALL THE WAY, THOUGH.

- I THINK IT'S GONNA--
BECAUSE HE'S--
- HE'S LITTLE.

NO, HE'S--
I THINK I'M MEASURING,
ACTUALLY, NORMAL,

BUT SHE SAID--

- BUT HE'S GOT FOUR
TO FIVE WEEKS LEFT.
- RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT.

AND HE'S SUPPOSED TO GAIN
HALF A POUND A WEEK.

- RIGHT.
- SO THAT'S THREE
MORE POUNDS OF BABY.

I'LL PROBABLY BE...

- Paulo: SHE'S IN THE TUB.
- Cara: IN THE BATHROOM?

Paulo:
WE'RE ALL
IN THE BATHROOM.

SO THEY'VE BEEN RELIABLY
FIVE MINUTES APART.

AY-YI-YI.

- Abby: HI, CARA.
- HI, CUTIE.

I DIDN'T BRING EVERYTHING.
I SAID, "LET ME JUST
COME AND SEE."

IT'S SO FUNNY,
'CAUSE TODAY WE FINISHED
DOING THIS INTERVIEW

AND I WAS STANDING THERE
AND THIS DOCTOR'S SECRETARY

LOOKED AT ME
AND SHE GOES...

AND SHE SAID MY BELLY
WAS GOING, LIKE...

( chuckles )
I DIDN'T EVEN FEEL IT.

LET'S LISTEN
TO THE GUY.

Abby:
I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS.

Cara: I KNOW.
WE'VE JUST GOT TO,
YOU KNOW...

I KNOW SHE'S
NOT GONNA LIE DOWN,
BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO.

- AND THEN YOU'LL BE FULLY--
- I AM. I JUST GOT TO--

- IT'S OKAY.
YOU'LL BE FULLY IN LABOR.
- I'VE JUST GOT TO, LIKE--

( laughing )
YOU'LL BE FULLY IN IT,
DRIVING UP 10th AVENUE.

- YOU'RE THREE OR FOUR
CENTIMETERS. I KNEW IT.
- ( laughing ) STOP IT.

YOU DIDN'T REALLY KNOW IT.
- NO. YEAH, I KNEW IT.

I JUST TOOK
PAULO ASIDE AND I SAID,
"SHE'S IN LABOR."

- SHUT THE HELL UP.
- NO, YOU ARE.

- YOU ARE,
BUT WE'VE GOT TWO BAGS.
- BUT WE CAN STAY HERE.

I JUST DON'T WANT--
IF HE DOESN'T TURN AND
WE DECIDE TO GO IN,

- I JUST DON'T
WANT TO GO IN...
- NO.

...SO LATE THAT
I'M IN SUCH CRAZY
ACTIVE LABOR.

SO WE HAVE TO KIND OF
MOVE QUICKLY.

OH, THIS IS SO SURREAL.
I CAN'T--

( laughing )
NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.
I DON'T EVEN HAVE A DIAPER.

- I DON'T EVEN
HAVE A BASSINETTE.
- Cara: THEY HAVE DIAPERS.

I MEAN, WHERE
IS HE GONNA SLEEP?
THERE'S NOTHING HERE.

I THINK HE'S HAD ENOUGH
OF THIS DOCUMENTARY.

HE WAS LIKE, "IF YOU
DRAG MY ASS TO ONE MORE
BORING-ASS PANEL..."

THE PANEL WAS,
LIKE, SO BORING.

- IT WAS?
- THERE WERE A FEW MOMENTS.

Cara:
I THINK WE SHOULD PROBABLY
JUST GO BECAUSE I'M WORRIED

YOU'RE GONNA DILATE TO EIGHT
AND THEN YOUR BAG'S
GONNA BE OUT THERE.

AND I MEAN...

Paulo:
IT'S COMING.
IT'S COMING.

CALL THE AMBULANCE
HERE FASTER.

( moaning loudly )

Cara:
SHOULD I GET THIS CAB?

Paulo:
YEAH YEAH.

( moaning continuously )

OH GOD.

Cara:
OKAY, GUYS.

IT'S COMING.
IT'S COMING.
IT'S COMING.

- SHE'S GETTING A CAB.
- Cara: IT'S A WOMAN IN LABOR.

SHE'S COMING OUT.

Woman:
DO YOU HAVE
THE TRUNK, SIR?

- Cara: NO NO, DON'T.
LET'S JUST-- YEAH.
- NO? NO? OKAY.

- Paulo: LET'S GO.
- Ricki: YOU WANT ME TO SIT
IN THE FRONT?

- Cara; THIS IS HER PHONE.
- Paulo: NO, I GOT IT.
I GOT IT.

Ricki:
WHERE'S THE WATER BOTTLE?

- Paulo: I HAVE IT.
I HAVE IT.
- OKAY.

MOM, I'M ON MY WAY
TO ST. LUKE'S RIGHT NOW.

'CAUSE I WENT INTO LABOR
AND CARA CAME OVER.

AND THE BABY'S BREECH
AND HE'S NOT TURNING.

Did you call the O.B.?

YEAH, CARA CALLED THEM.

YEAH. OH WAIT,
I'M GONNA HAVE
A CONTRACTION.

( moaning )

Abby:
PLEASE DRIVE.

CAN WE GO THROUGH
A RED LIGHT?

( Abby shouting )
PLEASE GO. IT'S
REALLY HURTING.

- Cara; GET ON YOUR BACK.
- Abby: OH MY GOD, THIS--

- THIS CONTRACTION IS HORRIBLE.
- Paulo: YOU'RE GONNA
HAVE TO DRIVE FASTER.

Abby:
I JUST FELT IT MOVE DOWN.
I FELT IT MOVE DOWN.

- Cara: YEAH, I KNOW.
- Abby: OKAY!

FUCK! FUCK!
I HAVE TO GET THERE.

I CANNOT HAVE
ANOTHER CONTRACTION
IN THIS TAXICAB.

GO THROUGH EVERY RED LIGHT.
I DON'T CARE.

Paulo:
ABBY, WE'RE TWO BLOCKS AWAY.
JUST BREATHE AND RELAX, OKAY?

Abby:
OH, GET ME OUT.
GET ME OUT.

- Ricki: WE'RE SO CLOSE.
- Abby: FUCK, THE WATER BROKE!

- Cara: OKAY, LEAN FORWARD.
- Abby: PLEASE PLEASE HURRY.

Paulo:
WE ARE HURRYING.

Paulo:
WE ARE RIGHT HERE, ABBY.
WE ARE RIGHT HERE.

Woman:
THE WATER'S POURING OUT.

Abby:
JUST GET ME IN.
GET ME IN, COME ON.

( Abby screaming )

Man:
A STRETCHER, PLEASE.
A STRETCHER. BROKEN WATER.

- Cara: WHEELCHAIR. WHEELCHAIR.
- Man: WHEELCHAIR. WHEELCHAIR.

- Cara: LABOR.
SHE'S HAVING A BABY.
- WHEELCHAIR.

Woman:
JUST CALM.
JUST CALM.

Cara: OKAY.
GOOD, ABBY.

- Abby: PLEASE MAKE SURE...
- Cara: I'M COMING.
I'M COMING.

Abby:
PLEASE MAKE SURE
HE'S OKAY.

WE DID NOT STAY HOME
AND RUN OUT OF TIME.

- JUST SO
YOU KNOW, WE DID NOT--
- Moritz: YOU'RE FINE.

- THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR COMING IN.
- NO PROBLEM. NO PROBLEM.

- I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU--
- ALL RIGHT, LET'S GET
THE BABY OUT.

YOU'LL BE A MOMMY HERE
PROBABLY IN 20 SECONDS.

- REALLY?
- VERY QUICKLY.

Woman:
YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED
TO FILM IN HERE.

Woman:
ARMS ARE OUT.

Moritz:
EASY EASY EASY EASY.

- EASY EASY EASY EASY.
- Woman: A LITTLE PEANUT.

- Woman #2: MM-HMM.
- EASY EASY EASY.

EASY EASY EASY.
NITRO WORKING?

I NEED SOME MORE.

- Woman: SOME MORE NITRO?
- YES.

WE GOT HIM.
WE GOT HIM.

LOOK.

- Woman: OKAY.
- Moritz: CUT.

HOW COME
I DON'T HEAR HIM?

Woman:
THERE'S SOMETHING--

- Woman: OKAY,
NO FILMING RIGHT NOW.
- Woman #2: HE'S OKAY.

( crying )

Paulo:
HEY, MATTEO.
BOM DIA, MATTEO.

GOOD MORNING,
MY LOVE.

GOOD MORNING, MY LOVE.

I KNOW.
WHERE'S THE THERMOMETER?

LET ME FIND
A THERMOMETER.

I THINK YOU'RE MORE
COMFORTABLE HERE THAN
YOU WERE INSIDE MOMMY

'CAUSE YOU WERE HUNGRY
IN THERE.

YOU WEREN'T
GETTING ANY FOOD
AND WE DIDN'T KNOW.

YES.

YES. I HOPE STUFF
IS COMING OUT.

I HAVE NO IDEA IF
ANYTHING IS COMING OUT.

I HAVE NO IDEA.

THIS IS
MY FIRST TIME TOO.

YES, IT'S DADDY
WITH THE SILLY CAMERA.

DADDY DOES, HE TAKES
PICTURES OF EVERYTHING.

IT'S SO SILLY.
OKAY.

HE'S DOING GREAT.
ISN'T HE DOING GREAT?

I KNOW.

WE'RE GONNA
TAKE YOU FIRST.

YOU'RE JUST SO GOOD.
I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU.

WOW.

WOW.

MATTEO WANTED TO LIVE.
MATTEO CAME OUT AT
THE RIGHT TIME.

- Cara: HE SO DID.
- HE WAS SCREAMING
TO COME OUT

AND SAY, "I DON'T
LIKE IT IN THERE ANYMORE.
IT'S OUTSIDE THAT'S BEST."

THREE WEEKS OR ONE MONTH
OF N.I.C.U. WITH MATTEO
LOOKING LIKE THAT,

YOU COME HOME AND SAY,

"WOW, LIFE IS PRECIOUS."

I WISH I DIDN'T
HAVE TO GO ON TV

TWO HOURS
AFTER ALL THAT.

- I GOT PAGED
OUT OF THE O.R.
- OH, RIGHT.

I WENT TO ANOTHER BIRTH.
I HAD ANOTHER BIRTH
AT 7:30 THAT MORNING.

- HOW LONG?
- I WENT STRAIGHT
TO THE BIRTH.

- AND WHERE WAS THAT?
- BROOKLYN.

OH MY GOD.
AND THAT WAS
A HOME BIRTH?

IT WAS A HOME BIRTH.
SHE CHOSE TO HAVE
A HOME BIRTH

AND SHE WAS SO HAPPY.

- AND WHAT WAS IT
LIKE FOR YOU?
- THAT'S WHAT I WANT.

THAT'S WHAT I GET OUT OF IT.
THEN SHE MOVES ON
IN HER LIFE...

GOOD MORNING!

- I PULLED AN ALL-NIGHTER
LAST NIGHT.
- YOU DID?

SO YEAH,
I'M HAPPY TO SEE YOU.

MY FRIEND HAD A BABY
SO I WAS WITH HER
ALL NIGHT.

I'M WORKING ON THIS
DOCUMENTARY ABOUT BIRTH.

AND THAT'S BEEN
SO REWARDING.

AND I FEEL LIKE THAT'S
MY PASSION PROJECT.

Abby:
WHY WOULDN'T WE HAVE SEEN
ANY EVIDENCE OF THIS

IN THE FIRST 30 WEEKS?
DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Moritz:
WELL, IT IS
NOTORIOUS

TO PICK THAT UP
WITH A STILLBIRTH.

THAT'S HOW YOU
USUALLY PICK IT UP.

THERE'S A GROWTH RESTRICTION,
GROWTH RESTRICTION,

THE BABY TRIES
TO OVERCOME IT,
SENDS BLOOD UP TO THE BRAIN.

SO THEY HAVE A NICE,
BIGGER HEAD THAN BODY.

AND THEN AT A CERTAIN POINT
THERE'S NOTHING LEFT
AND HE DIES.

AND THEN YOU START
DOING ALL THESE TESTS.

SO, UNUSUAL
TO FIND IT IN THE MIDDLE
OF THE PREGNANCY,

BUT GOOD NEWS
IF I FIND ONE.

ALL RIGHT, MY LADY.
WELL, I'M GONNA
STAY CLOSE.

I'LL BE WITHIN 10 MINUTES
OF YOU, BUT I'M NOT GONNA
HOUND YOU AND FOLLOW YOU.

AND AS SOON AS YOU GET
A COUPLE OF CONTRACTIONS,
LET ME KNOW.

I'M VERY PRO-MIDWIFERY.

AND I REALLY WANT
TO SHED SOME LIGHT

ON THE MISINFORMATION
OUT THERE ABOUT BIRTH

AND THE FEAR-BASED
INFORMATION.

IF YOU DARE GO VOTE--
WHERE DO YOU HAVE
TO VOTE?

♪ ...CALLING
ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ CALLING ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ WE'RE TRYING,
WE'RE HOPING ♪

♪ BUT WE'RE
NOT SURE HOW... ♪

Ricki:
DO YOU FEEL CHEATED?

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU
MISSED OUT?

YES AND NO.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

THE OTHER BIRTHS THAT
WE FILMED OR THAT WE SAW,

THERE'S JUST THAT MOMENT--

IT'S LIKE THE ORGASM
AT THE END,

WHERE THEY PUT THIS
BABY IN YOUR ARMS

AND YOU SEE THIS WOMAN
JUST LIKE, "OH MY GOD."

BUT MAYBE THAT'S THE WAY
HE NEEDED TO COME.

HE WASN'T STRONG ENOUGH
FOR A VAGINAL DELIVERY,
YOU KNOW.

HE WAS VERY
GROWTH-RESTRICTED.

HE WAS BREECH,

HAD THE CORD AROUND
HIS NECK REALLY TIGHT.

I MEAN, HE HAD
A LOT OF FACTORS

THAT COULD HAVE
BEEN REALLY DIFFICULT,
VAGINALLY, FOR HIM.

I THINK
HE WOULD HAVE SURVIVED.

BUT A LOT OF THINGS
WERE MESSED UP
IN THE PROCESS.

YOU KNOW,
WE DIDN'T HAVE BONDING
RIGHT AFTER BIRTH.

WE HAD A VERY
HARD TIME BREASTFEEDING,
A VERY HARD TIME.

LUCKILY, THANK GOD,
THERE'S NOTHING WRONG
WITH HIM.

BUT HE WAS SUCH
A SURPRISE IN EVERY WAY.

I THOUGHT
WE WERE GONNA HAVE
THIS BEAUTIFUL HOME BIRTH.

MAYBE WE'D FILM IT,
MAYBE WE WOULDN'T.

I DIDN'T REALLY THINK
WE'D END UP IN THE FILM,

SO I WAS KIND OF EVEN
SURPRISED ABOUT THIS.

ARE YOU SMILING?
ARE YOU SMILING
AT AUNTIE RICKI?

SHE WAS YOUR DOULA.
SHE WAS THERE.

- YOU REMEMBER ME,
DON'T YOU?
- SURE.

♪ ...CALLING ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ WE'RE TRYING,
WE'RE HOPING ♪

♪ BUT WE'RE NOT SURE... ♪

- ( woman moaning loudly )
- ♪ ...CALLING ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ CALLING
ALL ANGELS... ♪

Cara:
LOOK DOWN.
LOOK DOWN.

LOOK WHO YOU GOT.
LOOK WHO YOU GOT.

Man:
OH, WE GOT A LITTLE BOY!
WE GOT A LITTLE BOY!

♪ ...DON'T LEAVE ME
ALONE ♪

- ( baby crying )
- ♪ ...CALLING ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ CALLING ALL ANGELS ♪

♪ WE'RE TRYING,
WE'RE HOPING ♪

♪ WE'RE HURTING,
WE'RE LOVING ♪

♪ WE'RE CRYING,
WE'RE CALLING ♪

♪ 'CAUSE WE'RE NOT SURE ♪

♪ HOW ♪

♪ THIS GOES. ♪

( instrumental music playing )