When Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein partnered in 2007 to create The Business of Being Born, they empowered thousands of women to make better birth choices and to not feel afraid to defy convention when it came to their bodies and health. Now they are back again, producing Breastmilk, a new film directed by Dana Ben-Ari that explores the politics and drama woman go through AFTER the birth when it comes time to breastfeed.
The film will premiere around the country in the spring of 2014, but will be shown this coming weekend at DOC in New York City. It centers on the challenges real women face when they go from being women to breastfeeding mothers. Following more than 10 different women on their quest to breastfeed, there are a wide range of experiences and expectations in the film.
It's a must-see for any woman who plans on breastfeeding. Both Ben-Ari and Epstein sat down with The Stir and answered questions about the film. See below:
What made you decide to sign on for this movie?
Epstein: Ricki and I wanted to share this film with the BOBB community. We loved its honesty in depicting women’s experiences and lack of propaganda. We also like to support emerging women filmmakers!
Ben-Ari: I have always been interested in questions around identity, gender, feminism, and body politics.
How would you say it fits in with Business of Being Born?
Epstein: BOBB became a platform for women to discuss birth options with their doctors, partners, and extended family. It validated women’s intuitive feelings that routine hospital births had become over-medicalized and disempowering. Breastmilk lays it all out on the table in a similar, but much more subtle way. It essentially questions the breastfeeding culture that we have in this country and whether it's truly serving women and babies.
Ben-Ari: Both films address the vulnerabilities of women during their journeys into motherhood, and both expose the bind and lack of support that exist for women in a culture that is dominated by male norms.
Why do you think it is important for moms to see this film?
Epstein: I think it’s very difficult for a first-time mom to anticipate the demands of breastfeeding. Moms who “fall short” feel tremendous guilt but don’t realize that others are having the same struggles. It’s become a little taboo to admit that you are not a breastfeeding super-goddess overflowing with milk.
Ben Ari: This film validates many women's experiences and helps create a platform for many important conversations that can both empower future parents as well as support policy makers and advocates.
What was your personal experience with feeding your children?
Epstein: With my first child, it was extremely challenging, as he was premature and spent a few weeks in the NICU. The second one was much easier, because the birth was less complicated and of course I knew more. I also had a lactation consultant on-call, which helped me through the early obstacles.
Ben-Ari: Like most moms, I knew more the second time around.
Do you think moms who have been unable to lactate for whatever reason will find parts of this film offensive?
Epstein: I think those moms will identify strongly with certain characters in the film who are dealing with that same issue.
Ben-Ari: So far, most women, including one of the struggling moms in the film, have had a very positive response to the film.
What advice would you give a new mom embarking on nursing her child?
Epstein: Have a lactation consultant lined up before the birth ... just in case!
Ben-Ari: You are not crazy, but many people around you may not understand your struggle or how to help you achieve your goals. Find the right support.
What was your breastfeeding experience like? Will you see this film?
Image via Breastmilk