Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Post-screening high

Along with some other students, I'm helping start a group on our campus to support and promote breastfeeding and to raise awareness of its relationship to the reproductive continuum. (Don't worry, our name is shorter than all that!) Our first event was a screening tonight of "The Business of Being Born".

I was so excited about doing this movie at school. I wanted to show this movie to public health (and other health sciences) students for a couple of reasons. First was to counter the medical model we hear about in regards to birth. Especially studying international maternal health, we hear only about the lack of medical care. I think the impression given is that what we need is more of the kind of care we have in U.S. While that care would do a lot of good in developing countries, there are other models that could serve them even better. "The Business of Being Born" does a great job at showing what these alternatives look like.

Second, public health students are mostly young women. In maternal and child health it's about 99%! Some of these women never plan to have children, or have already had children. But for those who do, this can be a great first step into exploring birth alternatives, years before they actually become pregnant. (And, planning on babies or not, everyone knows someone who will give birth. I think we all owe it to our society to educate ourselves about safe, gentle birth so that we can support every mother in experiencing it.)

We had a great panel afterwards. We had a midwife who works in a public health setting, a hospital lactation consultant, a Bradley method teacher, a mother who has given birth to both of her children at a birth center, and me - I was honored to represent a doula perspective. I got a chance to say that I like to show this movie to young women because we are taught about birth all our lives. We are taught by movies and "reality" shows that overdramatize it, by horror stories, by rumors and half-truths. It's not that 9 months of pregnancy is too short to learn about birth - it is too short to UNlearn.

If you have not seen this movie, please do! It's not perfect (and we discussed some critiques of it in the panel) but it's a great start to that unlearning.

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