Breastmilk is the optimal food for a newborn baby, it’s also the most natural way for a mother and child to bond is through the nourishment and comfort of her bosom. However in our culture our breasts are under siege when it comes to feeding our babies. The most primal urge between mother and child is being threatened by a nation with no tolerance or understanding of the power of the female body. Our friends Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein have produced an imcredible film by Dana Ben-Ari called BREASTMILK. And whether you have decided how you will feed your baby or not- you must see it. We caught up with the duo to find out more about the new film that premiers on May 7th in NYC.
Why did you decide to produce “Breastmilk?”
We first saw Dana Ben-Ari’s film about a year ago after Elan McAlister, the director of Choices in Childbirth, suggested we take a look at it. We were both really impressed by the film and decided to come on board as Executive Producers to help it find a wider audience.
We loved The Business of Being Born and the film’s impact on the world of birth. Do you see this as a natural extension of The Business of Being Born?
In many ways Breastmilk could not be more different than BOBB. Although it explores some similar issues, Breastmilk is distinctly more objective and subtle while BOBB raises more pointed arguments and has a more subversive and controversial tone.
What is the takeaway message for new or expectant mothers in BreastMilk?
The takeaway message is really that we need to be empowering mothers by shifting the policies and ideology that make breastfeeding so challenging in our culture. We also need to support new mothers who are not exclusively breastfeeding, so we don’t pressure women or make them feel guilty about their parenting choices. The beautiful thing about this film is that it doesn’t cast any judgements or push any agenda — it simply observes the characters as they figure it out for themselves.
What about mothers who can’t breastfeed for whatever reason? What do you want them to take away from the film?
Many of the mothers in the film really struggle to breastfeed or eventually choose not to, so we think they will identify with them! Ricki was not able to breastfeed exclusively, but she contacted a milk bank to get donated breast milk which is another topic featured in the film. Abby also had struggles with breastfeeding after her firstborn was born prematurely and stayed in the NICU for several weeks.
So many mothers feel What can mothers do to avoid being overwhelmed by guilt and anxiety about breastfeeding?
The journey of conception, pregnancy, birth and motherhood is so rich. Yes, successful breastfeeding can be gratifying but it’s certainly not something that should define your feelings of self-worth as a woman or mother. There are other ways to physically bond with your child and feed your child – as many non-biological parents can attest to.
Do you worry that films like The Business of Being Born and now Breastmilk may unintentionally add to the pressure a woman feels about what kind of birth she has and whether she breastfeeds or not?
Oh definitely not. BOBB is one of the only films that actually gives women a reason not to be terrified of childbirth while everything else in society is giving them the opposite message. Breastmilk illustrates all the complexities around successful breastfeeding and shows the reality of how challenging it can be.
BREASTMILK premiers in NYC at the IFC Theater, Wednesday, May 7th at 7:30pm followed by a Q&A with Ricki Lake, Dana Ben Ari, and Abby Epstein