The Business of Being Born (2008)



Critic Consensus: Epstein's argument in favor of home birthing is certainly biased -- but its biases are so transparent, and so impassioned, that they work in the film's favor.

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Movie Info

This is a personal documentary tackling the controversial debate between at-home and hospital births in the United States. It contains hocking facts (illuminating to both men and women alike), regarding the historical and current practices of the child-birthing industry. The chronicle is interwoven with footage of married couples opting for home childbirth.

Rating: PG
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Abby Epstein
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 6, 2008
International Film Circuit - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Business of Being Born

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (15)

Important viewing for anyone contemplating a birth plan.

Full Review… | February 29, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Former talk show host Ricki Lake had her first baby in a hospital and came away with the need for a birth experience that was more empowering, with less medical intervention.

Full Review… | February 15, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

"The Business of Being Born" is messy and amateurish but heartfelt and compelling.

Full Review… | February 15, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A powerful, frightening look at America's delivery room that makes a strong case for natural childbirth overseen by experienced midwives rather than by surgery-prone doctors.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Epstein's film is conveniently short on interviews with the millions of mothers who have had positive experiences delivering in hospitals.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Pregnant women -- and involved dads -- would be well advised to check out this provocative portrait.

Full Review… | January 17, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Business of Being Born

A comprehensive documentary on the business structure and the medical justifications behind the view of birth in the United States, this film is not only well researched, medically sound, and unbiased, but connects with the viewer by showcasing a human quality that is inescapable. Birth can be a touchy subject in America with the rise in cost of medical care and the politics of our health care system, but that's not what this film is addressing. Instead of showing the mere joy of home birth and following midwifery, the film contrasts this practice with the much more common hospital birth in the United States. Abby Epstein interviews experts in the field, ranging from OB/GYNs to heads of Cedar Sinai, European physicians, mothers who have had unpleasant experiences in the delivery room and others who have fear connected to that day in their lives. Epstein shows the truth behind infant mortality rates' rise in this country compared to the rest of the world who uses midwives, while also shining a light on the practices of obstetricians and the reasons behind cesarean sections and epidurals. The film even addresses the intense pain of childbirth and the use of interventions. This film really resonates because there is far more care in the way everything is presented rather than an accusing tone. (though that can be seen in the interviews with disgruntled mothers) The film also follows several mothers as they deliver in their bath tubs or squatting in their living rooms. One of the mothers' journeys is Ricki Lake's, who briefly appears to lend her support based on her own experiences, and the actual filmmaker Abby Epstein shows her own birth and her experience, which has an end result that is quite surprising. This film has opened (not changed) my mind on this issue, and as a woman who deals with pain in a swift and calculated manner, that is something that can be said with resolve. Truly a labor of love, this is a documentary both sexes should view with an open mind.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

While a good source of information, this documentary is terribly put together. The director doesn't even attempt to make the documentary at least feel fair and balanced. The only people interviewed in this film are those that agree with the film's overall message. When the opposing view is represented, silly music is added and the footage is edited in a way that it appears as though it were nothing more than a montage of stupidity. While I understand that one cannot be completely objective when making a film, it would have been nice to not to have felt beaten over the head by the message. In summary, if you love your docs completely one sided and poorly constructed, then pick this one up for your next date night!

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer


Wow. This movie makes me so glad I don't have to have kids. I'm already a fan of natural birth and a opponent of most of the medical profession, but this movie didn't do the best job ever of bringing these points to light. It could have focused more on facts about child birth and hospitals, but instead it focused on crap like some french dude talking about how hospital mothers don't care about their babies because they didn't hold them afterward. P.S. I'm scarred for life after seeing Riki Lake give birth. Yikes. So graphic...

Curtis Lilly

Super Reviewer

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