Top positive review
118 people found this helpful
Review by a Couple With Some Home Birth Experience
on March 3, 2008
The film does a good job of explaining the "intervention cycle" that is so common in medicalized births--the mother is hooked up to intravenous tubes and all sorts of technology, and thus there is inevitable pressure to use (or misuse that technology). Anesthetics, which are supposed to ease the pain, lead to slowdown in the birth process, which leads to more intervention (pitocin etc.) and oftentimes to "crisis" into which the physician steps to save the day. The film gives a fair amount of attention to the power of the physician over against the mother in medicalized birth. The portrayal of the respectful and extremely helpful manner in which home birth midwives work comes across very well.
We give the film a four-star rating instead of five for several reasons. We think it does not do quite well enough at explaining the reasons why home birthers do certain things--for example, why they often choose water birth. Why husbands/partners might not wear a shirt when assisting the mother. Why the home setting is generally superior to the hospital setting in terms of exposure to dangerous microbes. There are good reasons for all these things, but they're not really explained in the film.
We think the film dwells excessively on the experiences of the director (Cara) and upon Ricki Lake. It's fine to have these folks profiled in the film we just think they take too much screen time that could have been better used educate people further about non-medicalized birth. This is one reason that the film starts to languish a bit in the second half. Some of the language used on the film (casual swearing) will be unnecessarily offensive to many home birthers and potential home birthers. The film did not mention the religious reasons some people choose home birth (we'd have loved to see interviews with Amish home birthers, for example). We did think the contributions of Michael Odent, Ina Gaskin, and the other midwives (and the back-up doctor) were portrayed very well.
We have had six home births (four with well-trained midwives). Our midwives definitely went the extra mile for us, and were genuinely interested not only in "getting the baby out" but in all aspects of prenatal, delivery, and early infant care. They were extremely generous in their time and expertise. In terms of theoretical and practical knowledge, our trained midwives were the equal if not superior to the typical birth-attending physician. This perspective comes across pretty well on the film.
All in all, this is a good film. It could be quite a bit better in terms of explaining non-medicalized birth to people who are unfamiliar with it. But it's a good start and we recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.