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French Woman Giving Birth With Joy [Video]

By ceridwen |

I have no idea when this was film was shot, but it’s incredible. It’s a black and white film from France (I’m pretty sure) in which a woman, who looks like Marilyn Monroe, is visibly euphoric during the birth of her baby.

What’s remarkable to me is just how little activity there is in this film. Mom is very calm, but more importantly the birthing assistants–a man (possibly the father and/or a doctor) and midwives (or maybe nurses)– are not freaking out, or doing much at all. At the very end the man helps the baby onto mom’s chest. There’s no suctioning, episiotomy, pulling on the head… The baby just comes out. Voila!

Since most of us are pumped full of imagery of births as medical emergencies or otherwise terrifying, screaming nightmares I think it really helps to see that there are other possibilities.

A couple of things:

1. Her perineum. Look at that stretch. Your body is meant to do this. It’ll stretch out, and stretch back. Here’s some more info on how a vaginal birth without lots of intervention can actually reduce tearing and pelvic floor damage.

2. Her position. Often when a mom is not medicated she’ll opt for a more efficient, pelvic-floor friendly, gravity-friendly position to push in. But hospital policy or care-provider sometimes require that mom be in the supine position (lying on her back) as it’s more convenient for the catcher/an old irritating tradition. Nevertheless she rocks the supine pretty hard.

(PS– The sound has been disabled so we can’t hear what I imagine would be happy French dialog and maybe some moans and laughter.)

This is the third post in a series on birth and film:
See an experimental home birth film from 1958 here.
And a short video about an innovative birthing center in DC here.

More on Babble

About ceridwen



Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother, and certified childbirth educator. She is the author of several books and screenplays, including (Three Rivers; 2007). She serves on the board of The Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York and teaches at Tribeca Parenting in New York City. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ceridwen's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “French Woman Giving Birth With Joy [Video]

  1. hannah says:


  2. Rebecca says:

    “What’s remarkable to me is just how little activity there is in this film. Mom is very calm, but more importantly the birthing assistants–a man (possibly the father and/or a doctor) and midwives (or maybe nurses)– are not freaking out, or doing much at all.”

    You can say that again. This is like the long lost birth scene from the ‘Jules et Jim’ cutting room floor.

  3. ceridwen says:

    Rebecca that is HILARIOUS.(She should be in a striped boatneck.)

  4. Anne says:

    This is actually how birth should be. I am currently taking Hypnobirthing class, as I am 7 months pregnant. To have a natural birth. This is what they teach in the class as the ideal birth or how God intended it to be. Your body is designed to do all the work for you. Sure there is some pressure and some pain, but if you accept that your body knows what to do and work with the pressure/pain (instead of tensing up and freaking out) it can be less painful and an easier birth – as demonstrated in this video. The stuff they show on TV and in the movies is just the sensational births in order to get ratings.
    In truth, the doctor should only be there if anything goes wrong or to “catch” the baby at the end. The woman should do all the work and pretty much be left alone to make it happen. There is a term that nurses use for women who have had epidurals, it’s called “birthing down.” It’s when the woman has had the epidural, then the nurse leaves her alone for a few hours, comes back and sees the baby’s head and contacts the doctor because the baby is about to be born. The reason the woman was left alone was because the nurses knew the woman’s body would do all the work and they could walk away until it was time. The reason they only do this with epidural women is they think non-medicated women will freak out too much if left alone. It’s funny how our bodies are already set up to take care of everything all on their own.

  5. gaurangi says:

    this is totally BEAUTIFUL! so natural.. that woman is just doing how she feels… i love this i wish we could hear what they’re all saying and her joyful laughter at the end.

  6. BecomingCrunchy says:

    Thank you for sharing this – I love her laughing! What a beautiful sight that was… :)

  7. kearsten says:

    That was the most beautiful birth I have ever seen! I was smiling with tears in my eyes! The little leg kick she does at the end cinched it for me…such childlike joy! This should be called glorious birth!

  8. cricket says:

    i have seen this video with the sound (alas i cannot remember where) and her sounds were of pure elation. delightful!

  9. Marie says:

    I can’t watch the movie, but, I believe I recognize the picture. It’s from a movie made by a French doctor of Châteauroux, Max Ploquin, in the 70′s. A very very moved moment.

  10. Ruby says:

    My birth experience was much like this. Not to brag, but I took no classes. I just relaxed and did what felt natural. I sat up and pulled my legs up and knew when to push. The key is to not doubt yourself.

  11. Christina Mastin says:

    I have to say, I am the same as the previous commenter (Ruby 05.07.2011 @ 7:14PM). My birth experience was much like the above, I didn’t take classes or anything. I just stayed calm and relaxed. My experience was wonderful, no doubt there was pain and discomfort but I believe my body knew what to do and I just followed its lead. Breast Feeding went about the same way. My daughter taught me and I followed her lead. I am not trying to brag, I know I am LUCKY to have had such a fantastic experience. Especially considering everything not so wonderful leading up to it.

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