Ricki Lake says, ‘Choose your own birth’

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Forget trends, statistics, and peer pressure. Go ahead and have your best birth

Many people think of me as an advocate for natural birth and midwifery care—and I am. However, while I have made choices in my own life that support that position, I am first and foremost an advocate for every woman to find a way to experience her best birth. If the ideal birth plan for you includes acupuncture and a warm bath leading to an at-home delivery, you should have the freedom to explore that experience. And if your perfect birth includes an epidural, Pitocin, or other medical interventions, you should be able to choose that experience, as well.

It’s easy to get caught up in the divisive battle surrounding “natural” and “hospital” births. In fact, too often we judge the choices made by our fellow moms. Everything from birthing techniques, to breastfeeding, to when one should return to the workplace are scrutinized and often criticized. Although I’m always up for a great debate, I feel that the judgment must stop. Instead of looking to define different options as right or wrong, we should encourage and empower women to become informed.

After giving birth to my first son, I was so elated to be a mom. I realized, though, that there was still much to be learned about birth. When I found out that I was pregnant with my second son, I couldn’t wait to go through the process all over again—just a bit differently. I yearned for information about various birthing options and methods in preparing to meet my second child. After quite a bit of research, I decided to give birth naturally, at home, in water. With my midwife by my side and with the support of my then-husband, I was able to plan a birth experience that was perfect for me.

Navigating the spiritual and medical aspects of birth can be challenging, but the effort offers huge rewards. Regardless of whichever method a woman chooses, it is my hope that she’ll never be made to feel inadequate or misguided.

As a sorority of mothers, can work to ensure that every woman, regardless of socioeconomic background, has access to prenatal care and accurate information. We can create a safe environment in which mothers can ask questions and be encouraged to trust their own instincts. We will never know what the outcome would have been if we had chosen a different approach; however, we can prepare, trust ourselves and our bodies, and in turn have our best births!

— Ricki Lake is an actress and talk-show host turned documentary filmmaker (The Business of Being Born).

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