Childbirth anthropologist and veteran childbirth educator Vicki Elson has produced an unique media literacy tool, “Laboring Under An Illusion: Mass Media Childbirth vs. The Real Thing.” This highly recommended documentary film is a great first step in understanding the problem of unrealistic TV and movie birth scenes — and it is full of imagery that can inspire writers to help create a healthier cultural environment.
Here’s an excellent selection of videos you can watch online for free. Includes Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices, Reducing Infant Mortality, and other great stuff.
InJoy is the premier producer of childbirth education videos. They offer a large collection of actual birth footage in hospital and birth center settings. They offer a balanced viewpoint on natural childbirth and controversial interventions.
Sage Femme is a producer and distributor of fascinating films about natural childbirth in out-of-hospital settings. Includes the stellar home birth film “Birth Day,” in which a Mexican midwife and her Japanese husband welcome their third child in their spectacular bathtub, with midwives quietly safeguarding them. Then their other kids hop in the tub too.
A short film about the transformative power of birth – highly recommended for its visual and emotional content – it’s not corny or cheesy, but it offers a peek into the souls of mothers.
Playwright Karen Brody interviews mothers at “Red Tent Events.” She has woven their stories into a play that is performed all over. The website has a wonderful little film about the play, the playwright, and the mothers. An inspiration – Karen has given mothers a voice that is accurate, touching, and funny.
These are perhaps the best-known birth films currently. “Orgasmic Birth” benefits from having the catchiest title ever, and “BOBB” benefits from having celebrity Ricki Lake. Both offer great birth footage and an overview of the maternity care system in the US. (BOBB has been critiqued for seeming hastily edited at the end, leaving the viewer a bit unclear that the homebirth that required transfer to the hospital for cesarean section was a case in which medical intervention was necessary and helpful; the transfer was handled professionally by both the homebirth midwife and the hospital.)