Film Review: Birth Story

April 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

“Some of the best birth footage out there–a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the subject.” -Ceridwen Morris, CCE, childbirth educator, and co-author of From The Hips

When I received an email last week asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the film Birth Story on my blog, I immediately responded, “Yes!” I received my copy of the film over the weekend. My husband watched some of it with me, in between doing the dishes. I was impressed at how much it didn’t seem to freak him out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s been married to me for almost twelve years, after all.

Speaking of my husband, he made his birth junkie wife proud a couple of Fridays ago. We had gone out to eat at a local pizza bistro. While gazing at the pizza art on their wall, he said, “The first thing I thought of when I saw that picture was: placenta.” That was probably a first in that restaurant, especially coming from a male. Ha!

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film, provided by the filmmakers:

Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives captures a spirited group of women who taught themselves how to deliver babies on a 1970s hippie commune, rescued modern midwifery from extinction, and changed the way a generation thought about childbirth. Today, as nearly 1/3 of all US babies are born via C-section, they labor on, fighting to preserve their knowledge and pushing, once again, for the rebirth of birth.

A caution: Birth Story has what most good birthy films have… lots of sweaty naked women with ripe bellies and bare breasts singing the birth song (i.e. moaning/singing/wailing). If you (or your husband/friends/kids) are not comfortable with that kind of thing, you probably won’t want to watch this one. But I really wish we could require all OB residents and nurses to watch this film. For those who have never seen a “normal birth,” it would be such a great educational tool. It shows just how calm and not-stressful birth can be.

Some of the things I love about this film:

  • We get to see the “Gaskin Maneuver” in practice when one of the Farm midwives is herself in labor and experiences a shoulder distocia. My favorite part about this particular scene is just how everyone is so chill about it… no freaking out or yelling or alarm in anyone’s voices. Just a calm and quiet, “Let’s have you turn onto your hands and knees.” And the baby comes right out.
  • We get to see a vaginal breech birth, a water birth in which momma catches her own baby without any interference, and lots of great clips of Ina May’s various speaking engagements.
  • We get to see tons of groovy pics and footage of the early days at the Farm and then interviews with those same groovy folks as much older and much-less-hippie wise women.

“We feel that the sacrament of birth belongs with the family.” -Ina May Gaskin

  • I love the family-oriented message. I love how Ina May and her midwives approach birth with so much reverence, with an understanding of what an honor and privilege it is for them to be present to witness such sacred events in the lives of the families they serve.
  • I love what Ina May says about the importance of kindness in the labor room. Plus she cracked me up over and over.
  • I love the midwife who said her favorite thing to do in labor was make out with her husband and the old-school footage of them doing just that. Ha!
  • I love the midwife songs, especially the adorable “witch” song after the credits at the end of the film.

I think if I could hand pick a Farm midwife to attend me at a birth, I would choose Pamela Hunt. I don’t know what it is about her, but I just love her energy. I think I would be too intimidated and star-struck by Ina May to relax, but I think I’d melt like butter in Pamela’s hands.

I highly recommend this film. Whether you’re a seasoned birth junkie or just an appreciator of good documentary films, I think you’ll be glad you saw this one.

Birth Story will be available for purchase beginning next week–April 30. Visit the Birth Story website to view the trailer, learn more about the film and the Farm, pre-order the film, find a screening near you, or sign-up to host a screening in your area.