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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Connector of the day - Ricki Lake

October 29th, 2009
08:22 PM ET

Advances in modern medicine have transformed the experience of giving birth, making it safer for women.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/29/art.ricki.lake.getty.file.jpg

caption="Ricki Lake has become an advocate of natural childbirth."] Yet a recent study found that more than 2 million mothers and newborns die each year from childbirth complications. The study said that most of those deaths occurred in rural areas - and could have been prevented if there was better access to life-saving emergency procedures, like caesarean sections.

But in some parts of the world, the arguement runs, the procedure is overused and many women are going under the knife unnecessarily.

Is natural best when it comes to childbirth? Or should we take advantage of medical technology?

The World Health Organization recommends that the optimal rate of C-sections should be between 5 percent and 10 percent because of the risks associated with the procedure.

However in the United States, for example, 28 percent of babies each year are born by caesarean section.

Actress and TV chat show personality Ricki Lake is perhaps best known for movies such as "Hairspray," as well as being a weight-loss role model who went from 260 pounds to less than half of that.

Now she is also growing a reputation as an advocate for natural birth.

As a producer for the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and co-author of "Your Best Birth," Lake has questioned whether a mother should receive expensive and, in some cases, risky fertility drugs and medical procedures in order to undergo a successful child birth.


Ricki will be joining Connect The World on Monday to discuss her experiences with motherhood and childbirth.

Send us your comments and questions for Ricki and we’ll do our best to use them on Monday's show.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. vincente

    While I do agree on some points (especially to avoid another Octo-drain-on-my-tax-dollars), I am surprised about one thing:

    Can anybody explain how having a child without any artificial assistance is groundbreaking? And sad to say, not everybody is educated enough to be able to handle a birth in their own home without medical professionals near.

    Just another example of someone who let their fame color their judgment to the point that they have no qualms making sweeping generalizations. And if people fall through the cracks, who cares? They obviously weren't wealthy or famous enough to matter.

    Good intentions, but bad execution.

    October 29, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  2. Richard Fehrmann


    Ms. Lakes is really Cute in this picture. Not too Reveiling with her Dress and With Holistic Medicine being more accepted with HMO's she will probably Educate alot of Women that might not have the added education that might be overwhelming in a Doctors Office. I was an 8 Pound, 8 Ounce foreceps baby myself.


    Richard Fehrmann

    October 30, 2009 at 3:07 am | Reply
  3. Marla

    What happens when something goes wrong?

    I am a RN, I was determined to have my child 'naturally' w/o medication while in the hospital that I worked in. BUT 18 hours later my 8lb 6oz. [normal sized child] could not progress through my birth canal. Of course I was sooo upset, but I would have been more tramatized if I would had to have been rushed from home to surgery to have a C-Section. A C-Section gave me a beautiful Normal boy that was not oxygen deprived.

    I am a large boned women – no other women in my family have had to have a C Section. So there was no way to know that my child would have failure to progress.

    It is WONDERFUL to be at home..........but why risk that when you have all the technology to have a SAFER child birth in a warm hospital atmosphere?

    November 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  4. David Muzumbuku

    I like Ricki Lake! She is awesome! Needless to say, women choose to go under the knife during labor for various reasons. When I was born, I was 9 Pounds 8 Ounce. Even though, I gave my mother a miserable life during labor, she was able to deliver me both naturally and successfully. Now, it is easy for a seasoned mother to do that, but it could be such a complex undertaking for 12 year old to handle that. Remember the 12 year old girl who died in Yemen while giving birth? Thank you.

    David "Moses" Muzumbuku

    November 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  5. Avery Gosfield

    I am the mother of a child born by cesarean in the 27th week of a very difficult pregnancy, most of it spent in the hospital. My first few years of motherhood were colored by joy, but also by a certain disappointment because my pregnancy was not like the one I always dreamed of, the fact that my child's first months were spent in a hospital rather than at home, and that direct breast-feeding never worked out. My child is now 13 and completely healthy: how I wish I could go back and live those first years again, without constantly comparing my own experience (and always coming up short) to those of what seemed, at the time, perfect mothers' perfect births. Without modern medicine, my child would never have made it. My battle with the myth of perfect motherhood probably made me a worse mother during those formative years. Although I agree that home birth must be a great thing, the important thing is a healthy child: there's nothing wrong with adoption, or medically assisted birth.

    November 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  6. Sylvia Amaefule

    Easy for Ricky to say I live in the Netherlands and my first child was through a C session and it was not by choice but due to pregnancy induced hypertension and my naby was boen 7 weeks early. The second preganacy progressed smothly so C session can cancelled what the preganancy got to 8 months. So I did have a normal delivery. less than 5 minutes after child birth I almost bleed to death it took 6 hours to stop the bleeding and revive me. All this would have been prevented if I had the ce session, all in the name of cost saving I almost lot my life. Thank God I am alive to tell this. I am an advocate of C session. It is reletivle safe in Hollnad.

    November 1, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Reply
  7. Gladys Jones

    Wow!!!! What a revelation.......having a baby without the hospital.
    I think it is called poor and uninsured in the USA. How much did
    Ms. Lake really spend...c'mon be real.

    November 1, 2009 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  8. Mammamia

    Motherhood is such a challenging and wonderful thing and it really forces us to define who we truly are in many respects. For this reason it is easy to get on the bandwagon about thigns that worked for us and forget that they might not actually be the be-all-end-all for other mothers out there. I mean, great, good for Ricky Lake for having a home birth. I hate to say it but the challenging part hasn't even begun yet and she will have to be a lot more creative to make the rest of parenting successful. I agree with Avery: the most important thing is a safe and healthy child and a safe and healthy mother. No one can make the critical decisions for us and it is our families who live with the consequences of our actions. I find it quite patronizing when some ditz from TV has decided she knows what's best for me. Ricky, mind your own business and keep your day job!!

    November 1, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  9. Anita P

    I think that Ricki Lake being an advocate for Homebirth is awesome. WE need more woman be advocates. Midwives are training to notice when things go arie. Woman should be empowered to have the best birth possible, and to SIGN up on what day your baby will be born (aka an elective cesarien) is horrible. Give little babies a chance to enter the world, don't force them but cutting removing them from a belly. While medical intervention is great when needed give woman the power to take back their birth. Ricki Lake has changed woman's lives and continues to impower woman all around her and to that I thank her. I love you Ricki .Yours truly, Anita, a midwifery student.

    November 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  10. Sione Ballard

    Thank you Ricky for bringing this issue to the forefront. The point is that pregnancy and childbirth is not a disease but a natural and normal function for the female body. If it was inherently dangerous the human race would not have survived for thousands of years. Of course there are some circumstances when a mother and child can benefit from medical intervention, but the overuse of these interventions is epidemic now. It seems that the majority of women don't see an epidural for example as anything more than pain relief and are unaware that it can cause a domino effect of problems – failure to progress, caesarean, breastfeeding difficulties and on and on.
    The problem with creating this culture of fear around childbirth is that the subtle and not so subtle message is that a woman cannot do it without the help of modern medicine. Thus women go into labor fearful and disempowered. Is it any wonder that labor for many fails to progress?
    Please do your research. There is a price to pay for unnecessary interventions.
    Thank you so much Ricky Lake for being an advocate for natural childbirth.

    November 2, 2009 at 1:03 am | Reply
  11. Monica

    It is great that Ms. Lake has such a good experience having had her baby in her home. Do all mothers that choose the same method have as good experience...?

    When I had my baby I took into account all the horrible stories of natural birth I had heard, and I just did not want to take a risk of a bad experience having my first child at 41 years old. I also knew about the risks of a C-section. But still I planned a C-section from the day I knew I was pregnant – and everything went smoothly. Two weeks later, I was working, back to the office.

    Delivering a child can be very simple to many women, but can also be life threatening for both mother and baby. Even if I had chosen natural birth I would have chosen to be in a hospital in the event something could go wrong for one of us. I would better be safe than cry for having made the wrong choice.

    How you will deliver your baby, is your personal choice. Listen to the options and the different experiences, and choose the one that you feel more comfortable with.

    November 2, 2009 at 4:47 am | Reply
  12. norma ocido

    I am a mother of 3 and I started my family at age 28, we leave in Libya at that time and I enjoyed my kids immensely. The 3rd chhild came when I was 38, and I experienced already the agony and pain of normal childbirth, So I requested my OB doctor for a C section , My point is there is advantage n disadvantage for both, But who cares at least having my kids is the best outcome for all of the sufferings. Dont you think?

    November 2, 2009 at 5:44 am | Reply
  13. Zimran Ndifor

    Natural birth is very good when there are no complications and should be performed in hospitals where there are experience midwives/husbands. In case of complications, this will be dealth with immediately where there is surgical requirements.
    It is not advisable for someone to request birth by a C-Section because they want to boast personal ego. It is nice for a woman to feel the pain of childbirth where life is being brought to the world, -this you will feel the closeness (bond) of mother and child and very warm relationship as the child grow.
    I was born when there was no c-section and my love for my parents is very wonderful.

    November 2, 2009 at 10:55 am | Reply
  14. Jane Ginsberg

    i don't understand why natural birthing needs an advocate. Who ever wants to do it, does it. Thank God, the world has come so far that most women can deliver their children with little or no worry about their or their child's health. I don't know why someone would purposely risk their own and their child's health for a nice bonding experience or whatever the reason is. One can never know what might happen during labor and it is best to be prepared , with Drs and medical facilities on hand. Of course women have been having children since the beginning of time, but women have also been dying in childbirth since then. I have 8 children , all born in hospitals , naturally (not c-section) and during each birth I appreciate the Drs and nurses and am so glad that they're there just in case!!

    But besides all this talk .... Rikki Lake is a lovely talkshow host but what makes her a professor of women's health? Because she has 1 child? It always annoys me when stars think they suddenly become geniuses when they become famous. Stick with your day job ,Rikki.

    November 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  15. Larry Agboh

    Have you ever done any special study on African Women?

    November 2, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  16. Deborah

    Hi there,

    I live in Nova Scotia, Canada and here C-Sections are not a choice over natural birth. If you need a C-Section with your first pregnacy, it is because it is NECESSARY. You then have the option with any other pregnancy to have a vaginal birth OR have a C-Section to avoid any risks to the baby's health. As far as being "big boned" or "small boned", anybody educated in anatomy knows that the fontanel and the cervix are very similar in structure. Look up how they both work. Your cervix is either competent or not competent, your bone size does not determine whether your cervix is going to eface (thin) and dialate (open) correctly. I have a "tipped" cervix and it will never line up with my birth canal. I will never be able to deliver naturally. I had an emergancy C-Section with my first baby and I had two planned sections after that first section. By the way, my first baby was 10 pounds....thank goodness for C-Sections!!! If we all could have natural births and we all had Rikki's money, I don't think you would see any moms in hospitals...who wouldn't want to have the luxury of having your baby at home with a team of medical professionals waiting to assist when and if needed???? Rikki can comment on C-Sections when she has one of her own....and it doesn't look like that is going to happen any time soon....

    November 2, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Reply
  17. Stacy

    Natural childbirth is a great thing... but be educated about the process and the provider you choose. NO LAY MIDWIVES!!!

    You can have a beautiful, natural delivery with few interventions in a healthcare setting. Many nurse midwives practice within medical centers. Be careful and be educated before you choose a home delivery. There are many risks associated with home births that one cannot predict. Low risk mothers, with uncomplicated labors deliver babies that need immediate rescusitation. Cords prolapse when membranes rupture. These are just 2 of the countless unpredictable things that occur. While they are rare, they are possible. A home delivery does not allow for immediate intervention, which can be life or death!

    I've seen Ricki's documentary. It's very biased. To be well educated, you need to look at all options, risks and benefits. BE EDUCATED!

    November 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Reply

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