Last summer at the L.A. Film Festival, a pair of filmmakers was pleasantly surprised to garner the Audience Choice award for their new documentary, "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives." The film's screening tour kicked off in NY in January of this year, and not long after, my brilliant sister Julia (currently living with us) found a screening at a local yoga studio, so she, my husband, and I got tickets. We found ourselves in a big roomful of fellow birth enthusiasts, and felt a happy camaraderie there. The film went by far too quickly, and we left smiling and edified.
Watching this film further endeared her to me. Sunny and positive, she has a knack for saying things just how they are. Her heart is brim with love, especially for women. It was fun to get a glimpse into her personal life as she went about her daily routines, interacted with her husband, shared morsels from her extensive obstetrical library, met with pregnant women, and attended births. It also includes snippets of public speaking appearances and her passionate fight to bring attention to the very high maternal mortality rate here in America, specially featuring her beautiful Safe Motherhood Quilt project.
The film contains several live births, including (drum roll), a breech birth! Few doctors and midwives will deliver breech babies vaginally in our country, and Ina May addresses this and other conditions and problems in our current system. In another birth shown, the midwife used the Gaskin Maneuver to safely deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia, and the last birth of the film was a mother laboring quietly in a birthing pool, eventually catching her own baby.
Wholesome and lighthearted, this film honors the wise women who watchfully attend the reverent process of birth and speak out in its defense. Find a nearby screening if you can or encourage some locals to get together for one! Otherwise, keep your eye out for the public release in April or May. Enjoy!