Birth story is a documentary film about Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives. If you enjoy birth and babies, and if you care about mothers, you need to see this movie! It's a compelling mix of Ina May's own story, the story of the Farm, and a vision for something better for women, mothers and babies, and families everywhere.
The film opens with Ina May talking about women and birth, then delves into her personal story in a powerful way. Ina May shares her first birth story – how they took a woman happy about having a baby and made having a baby almost alien. She didn't recognize her own baby when she saw her. After the inital overwhelm and confusion left off, it left Ina May searching for something better… a better way for mothers and babies to start their life together.
Shortly after showing Ina May's poignant memory, Birth Story captures her giving a talk to a room full of women. She has the room rolling in laughter as she proposes simple ways doctors could help laboring women (sing, joke, be kind, etc.). She declares her simple idea for change with Rule #1… Be Nice! 😉
Following the Midwives
There are many, many midwives (or former midwives) from the Farm who share throughout the film. You get a great idea of how things were done in those initial, pioneering days of the Farm Midwifery clinic. You also follow several pregnancies and births from today and see what has changed (and what hasn't).
Birth Story includes “vintage” birth clips and clips from recent births. Births range from straightforward to breech, shoulder dystocia, water births, and more 🙂 (It's lovely to see children involved with the births.) The births are really one of the highlights of the film – there's so much to see in these open, natural births. As one of the midwives says, you're privileged to see the mothers' “great pure effort” at birthing their babies.
Mothers – a Passion and a Purpose
The Farm's story and history of birth are woven throughout the film, but what really shines through is Ina May's continuing passion and purpose: to see real change come for mothers and babies. She crusades for normal labor and birth, but not simply because she thinks hospitals and birth technology have it wrong.
In fact, one of my favorite lines in the film is “You will find no midwives who say we should do away with obstetricians.” Obstetricians and hospitals are needed and lifesaving – but good things can be abused, and cesarean section and technocratic birth practices have been.
Women are losing not only choice, but their lives.
Ina May is still fighting to bring the best of both worlds to women – respectful, natural birth “that works” for most moms, and respectful, evidence-based medical care for those who truly need it.
Every Enjoyable Minute
I greatly enjoyed the film – in fact the only thing I really didn't like was a comment by one midwife that “basically we bring the hospital to you!” She was going over supplies a midwife brings to births and while I feel a comprehensive birth kit is wonderful, I don't want a hospital experience 😉 I do understand she was expressing that they're prepared, though 🙂
Birth Story dives into so much during its hour and a half, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the transitions from one section to the next captivated my attention. Classic photographs from The Farm were displayed with a kind of 3D effect that just pull you into the stories they tell. They were a great little bonus within the film.
Birth Story closes with a beautiful recent waterbirth. The crowning and birth are a breathtaking miracle of watching a baby peacefully unfold into a new world. It's a fitting ending to this must-see documentary. It's great for anyone interested in birth – and especially pregnant mamas-to-be and those who love them.
Watch the trailer below: