Monday, March 9, 2009

DVD Review: Pregnant in America

DVD Review
Pregnant in America

Reviewed by Molly Remer

Filmed by a father-to-be, Pregnant in America follows a young couple as they prepare for the birth of their first child at home and are surprised by what they learn about “life’s greatest miracle in the hands of a nation’s powerful interests.” The film was created by a layperson and sometimes that shows, but overall the film’s format lends a contemporary edge. Interview clips with birth experts such as Marsden Wagner, Robbie Davis-Floyd, Ina May Gaskin, and Kerry Tuschhoff are interspersed with segments of the pregnant mother (Mandy) talking about her pregnancy and her hopes for the birth. There are also a number of clips of person-on-the-street soundbites that add interest to the film.

Substories about a woman who travels to Canada for a chance at a VBAC, about Cytotec and the Tatia Oden French foundation, and about the birth practices in Holland add to the strong dose of activism to the film. There are also some interesting encounters when Steve (the father/filmmaker) tries to get answers from a hospital as to why a cesarean was recommended for his sister-in-law (she gives birth vaginally with a different doctor and then they discover her original doctor is scheduled for vacation time—her supposedly medically-indicated cesarean having been proposed for right before the vacation is to begin…).

The film comes to a fairly dramatic close when the Buonaugurio baby is born at home and then transferred to the NICU for an undiagnosed reason. Because of the stressful feelings generated by the hospital footage, I would hesitate to recommend this film to a pregnant couple without a “disclaimer” letting them know that the baby is hospitalized (the baby is later fine and is shown as a happy, walking one year old).

The main emphasis of Pregnant in America is advocacy and activism. It is not a “birth movie” per se in that it has no live birth footage (there is some labor footage and then snapshots of the birth). It definitely kept my attention and it has a powerful message to share with parents-to-be about maternity care as an industry.


Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Anonymous said...

I just watched this movie. I am 5 months pregnant with my 2nd baby. 1st baby emergency c section. The couple in the movie just proved why having a baby in a hospital monitered by doctors is the way to do it. I was crying thinking the baby woukd die. Why would you risk your babies life? To prove a point???

Scott said...


Why would you risk your babies life by going to a hospital? Look at the statistics... The alarming c-section rate in this country alone! Maybe if you had been with a midwife in the first place you wouldn't have had to do a c-section, was the baby breech? Sure, sometimes medical intervention is necessary, but it's a much lower rate for midwifes, and the studies I have read show a LOWER infant mortality rate for low-risk pregnancies...

Em said...

I have had a c-section (breech twins) and a vbac with a midwife in hospital (unmedicated). I am now a Birth Doula. I personally don't care much for this documentary as I feel it is very anti-doctor and anti-hospital. It has the potential of making women more fearful of birthing in a hospital and of Dr's themselves. As a Doula, my job is calm fears and anxiety and to encourage women to surround themselves with positive images of birth - which match their own plans and hopes.
In terms of production value, I found it lacking. It had a few good points, but lacked professionalism. It seemed to come across as being confrontational for the sake of being confrontational - and what good is that going to do? I prefer The Business of Being Born and recommend that to all my clients.