MANA! by Nicolle Littrell

Nicolle Littrell put together this charming film about MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) filmed mostly at the MANA conference in 2008. She gets some great interviews with some of the most influential founding folks of MANA including Carol Leonard and Sister Angela Murdaugh. She talks with newer movers and shakers like Betty-Anne Daviss. She also gets some time with important non-midwives including Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, Jennifer Block, and Barbara Katz Rothman. Littrell just barely scrapes the surface on ongoing MANA controversies such as the tension between CPMs and CNMs or the often swept under the rug issue of race and racism amongst homebirth midwives. Despite this, however, it is a well put together film and worth a viewing.

Littrell herself is pretty fabulous. She’s been spending her time filming homebirths here in Maine and documenting the thus far futile struggle for licensure in Maine. I met her because she came and filmed a birth I attended. Her short films featuring homebirths are very sweet and quite inspiring, if I do say so myself.

TV Births

Speaking of tv, I don’t know if I can watch it any more. There are too many, well, births. Sitting and catching up on a show while crafting the other day, I was surprised with a birth out of the blue (it’s that kind of show, not much warning). We’re in the hospital and the doctor puts his hands on the mom’s belly, looks into her eyes and tells her the baby’s in distress. Cut to other plotlines, then back to the birth. “You have to have a c-section!!” and then adds, “Now!” trying to convince her to agree. Not 1.5 seconds later, the nurse calmly lifts the drape between the mom’s legs and informs the doctor that the baby’s crowning. Really? Baby seems fine to me, no need for a cesarean birth. They didn’t even resuscitate the baby, let alone check it’s heart rate or breathing. Must have been a very distressed baby. Then we cut to a picture of the mom holding the baby and (I know it’s an older baby dressed up for tv) if I ever saw a newborn that was as relaxed and unflexed as that baby was, I would definitely be checking to make sure everything was ok, even though it looked well-perfused and healthy.

Do you see what I mean? These thoughts running through my head certainly don’t belie the suspended disbelief one needs in order to indulge in television. I can’t get past the fact that these births aren’t in any way realistic, even for a hospital birth. It irks me to no end that this is the view of birth Americans are most familiar with. But even more than that, it’s become amusing to me that I can’t turn off the student midwife voice in my brain, even when participating in a leisure activity like this. At least I don’t talk back to the tv (in public) during these scenes.

“You Goddesses Giving Birth to Babies”

Ka Sundance is the father of three beautiful children (with another expected any second), two of whom were born at home. Here, he waxes poetic about his wife Katie, his children, and about “the capability you ladies and goddesses have to bring birth to this planet.” I wanted to share some beautiful papa love today from a man who not only gets it regarding birth, but really revels in the power of women during labor and birth. And, in Ka’s example, I propose that we no longer refer to folks who are pregnant as women or mothers or clients, but simply as goddesses.

Birth Matters Virginia

Birth Matters Virginia recently held a video contest in order to raise awareness about childbirthing options for women. The entries were judged by Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, Sarah Buckley, M.D., and members of Birth Matters Virginia. Of their three top ranked videos, here is my unequivocal favorite. I love that these women come across as real, everyday women you that you can take seriously.

HT to Citizens for Midwifery