Birth : A film about feelings and experiences.

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About this work


A film with testimonies from women who have recently had children: the women talk candidly about how they felt and feel physically and emotionally leading up to the birth of their children and then afterwards. The women try to dispel some of the myths around pregnancy and childbirth. They comment on the unsolicited horror stories which were shared with them. The testimonies are intercut with a sequence of a woman who is in the process of giving birth at home with a midwife (seen only partially, Afro-Caribbean in heritage), a doctor and her husband. One woman talks about her birth aspirations: she wanted everything to be normal and not be part of a 'sausage machine' (she opted for a home birth). Another woman talks about the importance of a good mental approach. Several women opt for a 'natural' approach. Sheila Kitzinger talks about the importance of education and breathing exercises; she is seen hosting a NCT class in a home with a series of couples (she talks about the psycho-sexual aspects of the experience of childbirth and her memorable but controversial analogy of the birthing process being like a flower opening). She differentiates between the pain of injury versus the 'positive' pain of childbirth. Three-quarters through the film, Dr Frédérick Leboyer the writer of 'Birth without Violence' talks about the benefits of natural childbirth and birth in water intercut with another home birth.



Physical description

1 videocassette (46 mins.) (DIGIBETA) : sound, colour
1 DVD (46 mins.) : sound, colour ; 12 cm

Copyright note

National Childbirth Trust.


More material on the NCT is held in the Wellcome Library reference SA/NCT.
Supporting material is available in the department, a 2 page A4 sheet entitled 'Suggested Text of Booklet to go with Film 'Birth''. This sets a framework for how the film should be screened and discussed. There is a concern that the film will come across as 'shocking'. The film's good points are noted; it gives an idea of the pace of childbirth; pain is discussed openly (with the eventual happy outcome in mind); it communicates the strong and sometimes opposing feelings which are part of the birth experience . Although the fathers-to-be's voices are not heard, this transpires to be a deliberate production decision by Julian Aston. In addition, there are observations about the specific obstetric techniques used; one of the midwives (perhaps due to nerves) is noted as 'fundus fiddling'; one woman lies flat on her back which is a less than desirable position for delivery; mucus is extracted (a procedure which was going out of favour as 'it might be an assault on the baby'); each birth has the midwife rotating the baby's head externally in the wrong direction (apparently a common occurence). The two births included in the film were shot at home due to the ease in doing so - there is a plea that if the film is screened in a hospital setting that consideration is given to shoot complimentary material.
The date of the production is sourced from the BFI National Archive's database and is the broadcast television date.

Creator/production credits

Photography Ivan Strasburg, Diane Tammes, Mike Fox. Sound Mike McDuffie. Editor Franco Rosso. Producer Julian Aston. A National Childbirth Trust Film produced by Julian Aston Productions.



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