The documentary BIRTH STORY: Ina May Gaskin & the Farm Midwives is premiering this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
I’ve had the privilege of talking with the filmmakers, Mary Wigmore and Sara Lamm, throughout the making of the film. They’ve told me some amazing and hilarious stories and occasionally slipped me a sneak at the extraordinary footage. The trailer is stunning.
I am so glad they decided to tell this story. As the filmmakers put it, “We believe the time is right to present a movie that celebrates women and their bodies, that honors what we can accomplish when we work together in community, and that shows childbirth the way we never see it in the mainstream media—unadorned, unabashed, and awe-inspiring.”
Without further ado, here’s the trailer and an interview with the directors, who give us the real scoop on how to film a birth, and whether Ina May Gaskin has an iPhone:
What’s the Ina May quote you like best?
Your body is not a lemon.
What’s something about Ina May most people (even her fans) might not know?
- Ina May is a huge fan of Jane Goodall. She compares Jane’s careful observation of animals in the wild to her own quiet approach watching and learning from women in labor. She said in one of our interviews, “I watch humans, and Jane watches chimps.”
- Ina May often travels with rubber poop, like the kind that you’d find in a practical joke shop. She uses it in her lectures to make people laugh, and to help women feel comfortable with the fact that sometimes “poop happens,” so to speak, in labor. Sometimes she even juggles it.
- Ina May collects old midwifery and obstetric textbooks. She has a whole room full, and uses them to learn about practices that may not be in fashion today but are useful nevertheless.
What does she do on her day off?
Ina May loves staying busy, so she never really takes a day off, but when she is home and not writing or delivering a baby, she sews her own clothes (sometimes from Vogue Patterns by Issey Miyake), knits, and tends to her garden. She speaks about five languages pretty well and learns them by listening to CDs while she works in her sewing room.
Does Ina May Gaskin have an iPhone?
We didn’t expect it, but Ina May is incredibly tech-savvy. She has at least two iMacs, and an iPad. And she is quite thorough when it comes to documenting her travels with her cell phone camera.
What was it like the first time you filmed a birth?
We felt like midwives! We waited for 8 days! We learned then how much dedication midwives and doulas have to be on call for years on end. And then, when we finally got the call, we were so nervous but the mother was so calm and so beautiful and sweet. She was surrounded by family; her 4-year-old daughter stood by her and rubbed her back, and her mother, a former delivery nurse, encouraged her by telling her how strong she was … The atmosphere was so calm, in fact, that we didn’t even know the baby was coming out until Stacie, her midwife, said “Heads out!” We were in shock and had to scramble a little bit to get the shot. We had so much fun that night–it’s really true what they say about the energy of birth–we were wide awake afterwards even though it was 2 in the morning. We had to go to a bar and drink two beers.
Any good tips for non-filmmakers filming births?
Be patient, quiet and definitely employ the fly-on-the-wall approach. Use a camera with a good low light option since most women want a dimly lit room. We used the Canon 5D. Keep your batteries charging at all times (you never know how long it will take), don’t assume that the last push will be a high pitched scream or moan because you might miss that baby coming out. Use a wide enough lens to capture the mothers face and the baby coming out at the same time, and remember it can be a lot of hanging around so bring some granola bars or our favorite snacks: string cheese, almonds, and apples.
If you donate $25 to the Kickstarter campaign you get a copy of the DVD when it comes out.
There are also beautiful prints, “YOUR BODY IS NOT A LEMON” buttons, totes and other cool things on offer for anyone who donates even just a few bucks.
This is a no-brainer if you’re in the birth community. A good deal, a good cause. It takes 5 minutes.
If we all give a little, we can help spread the news about the (endangered) midwifery movement and show the world what women’s bodies are capable of, if given the chance. Spread the word!
MORE ON BABBLE:
- 10 reasons to think about childbirth now, before the ninth month
- The many faces of labor: 25 powerful photos of women giving birth
- A 40-week pregnant woman dances herself into labor
- Ina May Gaskin’s proposal for better maternal healthcare in the U.S.