Childbirth is one of the most complicated human experiences, and for many new mothers, it can be beautiful and traumatic all at once. In the latest episode of Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert, Lake Bell honed in on this dichotomy—or “amazing magical mayhem,” as she calls it—when she opened up for the first time about the “egregious up-and-down” experience she faced while delivering her and husband Scott Campbell’s second child, Ozgood, in 2017.
“We had two home births,” the 40-year-old actress explained. “The first was with [daughter] Nova in Brooklyn. I felt very empowered.... The home birth was this amazing primal bonding. When my daughter came out, she had the [umbilical] cord wrapped around her neck, and it was very scary. She was on my chest, and she wasn’t breathing. The midwife gave her three lifesaving breaths on my chest, and my husband was there. She came to life, and we saw it.”
Feeling “very empowered by that experience,” when Bell became pregnant again while living in L.A., she decided to have another at-home birth. “We had him at home,” she explained. “I was huge; he was 11 pounds. The same thing happened, I was at home, and he had the cord wrapped around, and he was on my chest. He was not coming to [life].” Bell continued, “Now you’re in really f***ing life and death. Your child is there, and the entire room is trying to resuscitate him, and they can’t. The paramedics are on their way; he’s still there. This person you don’t know.”
Bell went on to explain that Campbell rushed their newborn son to the hospital, while she stayed back and was informed by their midwife that she had to be induced to birth her placenta. “I was looking at my phone as they were sewing me up and I get a little video from Scott [of] little Ozzy just barely taking breaths with the oxygen mask, and I just passed out. Because I was like, ‘He’s alive,’ and then I just passed out.” While a number of different outcomes were presented to Bell and Campbell regarding the health of their son as he stayed in the NICU for 11 days, he thankfully left the hospital with a “clean bill of health,” she said.
Following the delivery, Bell revealed that she was guilt-ridden about having insisted on a home birth. “I’ve dealt with that since,” she explained. “You could blame the midwife, you could blame yourself, but ultimately the result is the only thing that matters.” To get over the psychological struggle, she went to therapy and took antidepressants for a year and a half. “I barely take Advil, but I was like, ‘This is absolutely imperative in order for me to function,’” she said.
Joining the slew of celebrity women who have opened up about their harrowing childbirth-related health complications, such as Beyoncé, Serena Williams, and Jessica Biel, Bell is helping shed light on the inherently unpredictable nature of childbirth—and the physical and emotional obstacles that can follow it. And with out-of-hospital births on the rise in the U.S., her transparency about what she went through is even more valuable to women navigating their birthing plan and motherhood.