"Birth Story," winner of the Audience Award at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival, screens one-time only, Tuesday, March 5th at 6 PM at the Vashon Theatre. The screening is a benefit for Woman’s Way Red Lodge and is co-sponsored by Green Tech and the Vashon Theatre. Suggested donation is $5-10 (sliding scale) at the door.
This new release film about world-renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin’s work is awesome and carries a powerful message about our responsibility to keep the real knowledge about birth alive in a world where birth by abdominal surgery is becoming more and more prevalent. In the U.S., C-section births increased by 49% from 2000 (when it was 22.9%) to 2011 (when it was 32.8%). Our children’s children need us to keep precious knowledge about natural birth alive and breathing.
Counterculture heroine Ina May Gaskin and her spirited friends began delivering each other’s babies in 1970, on a caravan of hippie school buses, headed to a patch of rural Tennessee land. With Ina May as their leader, the women taught themselves midwifery from the ground up, and became an integral part of a new communal, agricultural society called The Farm. The people of the Farm grew their own food, built their own houses, published their own books, and, as word of their social experiment spread, created a model of care for women and babies that changed a generation’s approach to childbirth.
Forty years ago Ina May led the charge away from isolated hospital birthing rooms, where husbands were not allowed and mandatory forceps deliveries were the norm. Today, she fights to preserve her community’s hard-won knowledge.
Ina May Gaskin’s first book, Spiritual Midwifery, has been passed from pregnant woman to pregnant woman, touching hundreds of thousands of women and families since its publication, nearly forty years ago. In 2006, a Brooklyn friend passed the book to filmmaker Sara Lamm, who was expecting her first child, with the words, "This is the ONLY book you need to read." Lamm in turn passed it to another filmmaking friend, Mary Wigmore.
Both mothers with young children, Lamm and Wigmore traveled to The Farm many times over the course of the two years they were shooting this film, often with some or all of their young children in tow (an infant, and two two-year-olds). They relied on doulas, husbands, friends, and each other for support, and were grateful to be making a film about midwives. Who better to understand the challenge of juggling cameras and breastfeeding than Ina May Gaskin and her colleagues? (Wigmore gave birth to her second child one week after the film premiered at the LA Film Festival—it was the fifth baby born to a member of the Birth Story production staff since the start of production—all of the babies were born without intervention.)
At first the filmmakers weren’t sure how they would ever convince a woman to let them film her birth for inclusion in the film, but in the end, it turned out to be fairly simple: a trusting relationship with the midwives led Lamm and Wigmore to several clients who were motivated to help others understand more about natural birth and midwifery-led care.
This special film screens once-only on Tuesday, March 5th at 6 PM at Vashon Theatre. To discuss/share responses to this moving movie about birth, come to Vashon Drum Circle on Friday, March 8th, 7 PM at Vashon Intuitive Arts.