Friday, January 1, 2010

DVD Review: It’s My Body, My Baby, My Birth: A film About Natural Childbirth

DVD Review: It’s My Body, My Baby, My Birth: A Film About Natural Childbirth

Wisewoman Childbirth Traditions, 2007, or
27 minutes

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE

“It was ecstasy” and “I could do that again, and again, and again…” These are two of the first things you hear as the film It’s My Body, My Baby, My Birth opens. The film features a very multicultural group of seven families sharing their experiences with natural childbirth. Most of their experiences are homebirths with midwifery care, but also included are a mother speaking about her natural hospital birth, one with a birthing center birth, and one having a home VBAC. Also interspersed through the film are interview clips with a hospital based obstetrician, a homebirth CPM, a hospital based CNM, and a childbirth educator. The mothers and fathers both talk and share their experiences and feelings.

The primary focus of this film is answering the question, “why natural childbirth?” It is not a birth movie per se. There is no actual birth footage, though there are several clips of the women in labor (naked) and of newly born babies. In this way, the film is a good introduction to the beauty and power of birth, without overwhelming a novice viewer with intense crowning sequences. The film would be a great one to have on hand for a husband who perhaps does not want to see other women giving birth, but who wants to understand why his own wife wants this. The film is very reasonably priced, making it a perfect addition to anyone's film library.

The CPM and filmmaker, Maria Iorillo, speaks candidly at one point about her own birth experience and also shown is a snippet from a prenatal visit with her voiceover explaining that most prenatal visits last an hour—“forty-five minutes of talking and fifteen minutes hands-on.” This scene is a good example of midwifery care in action, as is further commentary that the midwife remains with the family at least three hours postpartum and returns at one day, three days, five days, ten days, and six weeks (how many women can say they get this kind of care from an obstetrician?!). One of the mothers shares that she wanted a midwife because, “I wanted that relationship.”

I have a long-standing interest in language and the power of words. The language in this film is breathtaking. The CNM talks about women being discouraged from having natural births and says, “[the woman’s feeling of] I am that powerful, that brilliant, that strong—they are robbed of the experience of knowing that.” One of the mothers speaks of her “incredible elation and sense of this enormous power. Enormous power.” When speaking of the support around her during her VBAC, another mother says, “There was a lot of honor in it.” Another couples shares how “completely blissed out” they were—“it was the most profound rite of passage we’ve ever experienced…we did it together…it was powerful.” The OB says that “labor is a primal experience; it is what our bodies were crafted to do. Natural childbirth allows that to happen” (she also notes in the film that more space needs to be made in hospitals for the “experience.”)

I believe this film has great potential to help people understand why a woman would want to experience natural birth, what is at stake, and why birth matters. It matters profoundly.

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