Thoughts on Babies, the movie

So, I went to opening night of Babies, and unlike the Weekly I give it four stars, I would give it five if they had shown more of the births.

First, a synopsis of the film:  Babies simultaneously follows four babies around the world – from birth to first steps. The children are: Ponijao, who lives with her family in Namibia; Bayar, who resides with his family in Mongolia, ; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco. It’s kinda like Baraka, showcasing different cultures and their customs side by side and, like Baraka, I think this is one to watch over and over to assimilate.  (OMG, I just found that the Baraka creators are doing one on birth, rebirth & death called Samasara, due out in 2011 – awesome!!!)  Most first time viewers, especially non-parents, might think it a cute and charming film and get a vague sense that there’s something important being revealed here, and indeed there is.

I have to mention that not even five minutes into the film, a dude sitting several rows in front of me, whipped around all annoyed at Maya’s sweet excitement she was exhibiting over the film. She was not crying or being loud, just kinda babbling and grunting her approval. He ran out of the theater and came in moments later followed by a movie staffer, who came in to check the scene out and had wisdom to leave it alone. The moment she started to get fussy a bit later on, I took her and calmed her down so no one would be affected, but I thought it was a bit short sighted of this gentleman to come to a movie about babies and get in a huff about sweet sounds when the movie was littered with a good bit of crying and other other baby noises. I hope his lady friend does not sleep with him tonight.

Anywho…

As a new mom who is instinctively uncomfortable with books, toys, hand sanitizer, tv, baby food, bouncers and a lot of the other trappings of the modern day parent, I’ve looked to the wisdom of indigenous cultures whose children seem happy & whole to challenge the assumptions my culture has ingrained in me about parenting and children.

Go see this film. It’s an important study on degree of connection/separation, depending on the kind of lens you view things through. It compels us to question our assumptions of what’s best for babies and ourselves. It’s a perfect companion to my new favorite book, Ascent of Humanity.

The most connected baby is also the happiest & brightest – it’s hard to separate her from her family or environment, as it all blends together like one complete system. The more material goods and modern technology are introduced, the less each baby has an opportunity to connect and engage with people, animals and nature and the more confusion, stress and crying occur. I think it’s also interesting to note that the most connected baby has no involved adult males, but the least connected baby has more contact with her dad than her mom.

After you go see the movie, please come back here and add your comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know I came home and immediately had the urge to purge my entire house of things and started dreaming of rolling in the dirt with Maya.

Birthing While Black. There, I said it.

I am disgusted by the systemic racism in maternal care after reading this shocking report just released by Amnesty International. Not only does this report describe how broken our birthing industry is, it describes a dark side that my look-at-me-birth-so-ecstatically white self is embarrassed by.

“The awful truth behind the shocking numbers is that at least half of these deaths could have been prevented.

Women in the United States are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than in 40 other countries. More than half of these deaths occur within 42 days of giving the birth because of issues like accessibility, affordability and lack of oversight in maternal health matters. The story only gets worse when you look at the rates of pregnancy-related deaths among minority women. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.

But in a country that spends far more on health care than any other country in the world, we should be able to guarantee every woman’s right to a safe childbirth.”

Read the Summary or the Full Report and TAKE ACTION

10 Centimeters

Exploring the Sacred Art of Giving Birth

Written by Julie Norris | Photos by Cristy Nielsen

Exploring the Sacred Art of Giving Birth

Photo By Cristy Nielsen

Ten centimeters — the golden labor measurement. Being informed and believing in your body’s natural ability are the first steps toward exploring the many approaches that offer a kind and gentle experience into motherhood. Documentaries such as Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born and the almost unbelievable Orgasmic Birth have left many women questioning the status quo and pressing for more information on the nature of giving birth. We’re lucky to live in an area with a full spectrum of well-established care options and an advocacy community for some of the lesser-known alternatives. Here’s a local guide to empower you to choose the best path to get you to your 10 centimeters.

[Read the full article in the Spring 2010  Edition of PLAYGROUND Magazine. Found around town as well.]

Use of Marijuana During Pregnancy | mothering

Another reason I love Mothering Magazine, they are not afraid to report on some seriously controversial stuff. A friend of a friend (really!) had such severe morning sickness that she could not stop puking & the only thing that relieved it and gave her an appetite was the medicinal use of marijuana. I’ve met her kid and he rules. She & her mother both have a medical background and came to the conclusion that marijuana was safer than the prescription drugs that only half worked and had other serious side affects. So, since googling for an answer on this will lead you nowhere, check out this well researched article and decide for yourself:

Warnings that marijuana causes birth defects date back to the late 1960s.1 Some researchers claimed to have found chromosomal abnormalities in blood cells taken from marijuana users. They predicted that young men and women who used marijuana would produce deformed babies.2 Although later studies disproved this theory,3 some current drug education materials still claim that genetic damage is passed on by marijuana users to their children.4Today, researchers look for a direct effect of THC [for tetrahydrocannabinol, either of two physiologically active isomers, C21H30O2, from hemp plant resin] on the fetus. In animal studies, THC has been shown to produce spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and physical deformities—but only with extremely large doses, only in some species of rodents, and only when THC is given at specific times during pregnancy.5 Because the effects of drugs on fetal development differ substantially across species,6 these studies have little or no relevance to humans. Studies with primates show little evidence of fetal harm from THC.7 In one study, researchers exposed chimpanzees to high doses of THC for up to 152 days and found no change in the sexual behavior, fertility, or health of their offspring.8

Read more: Use of Marijuana During Pregnancy | mothering.

Baby! Int’l Film Festival

So, I am really stoked as there is a rare opportunity to see some great films about birth, breastfeeding & babies this coming October 2nd & 3rd at the Plaza Theater during the Baby! Int’l Film Festival hosted by Commonsense Childbirth and The Birth Place. I have the pleasure of interviewing Midwife extraordinaire Jennie Joseph this Wednesday, Sept 30th on Front Porch Radio, so tune in for a great show!

Three films in particular look exciting to me & I’ve listed them below. I’m sure Maya will need a drink, so you can bet I will also be taking part in the World Breastfeeding Challenge in the lobby at 11am.

Laboring Under An Illusion

Laboring Under An Illusion

Laboring Under an Illusion: Mass Media Childbirth vs the Real Thing Anthropologist Vicki Elson explores media-generated myths about childbirth. As a childbirth educator for 25 years, she observes daily how our culture affects our birth experiences. In this film, she contrasts fiction with reality. The result is hilarious, engaging, and enlightening. “To understand what it’s really like to have a baby, we have to debunk the silly and scary images served up by the profit-driven media. In reality, birth is hard work, sometimes simple, sometimes complicated, but always miraculous and unforgettable.”

Birth As We Know It

Birth Into Being

Birth As We Know It is a groundbreaking film featuring 11 births, all completely unique and all natural. Birth As We Know It is a treat for both the heart and mind, comfortably intertwined on a path toward realizing the full potential of birth. A new style of documentary film creates a refreshing arena for the story of Birth to unfold. A triumphant orchestration of stunning cinematography, empowering instrumentation, and a calming narrative, warms our hearts as we are reminded of the beauty of Life, and awakened to the ultimate possibilities of Birth!

What Babies Want

What Babies Want

What Babies Want is an award winning documentary film that explores the profoundly important and sacred opportunity we have in bringing children into the world. Filled with captivating stories and infused with Noah Wyle’s warmth as narrator, the film demonstrates how life patterns are established at birth and before. The documentary includes groundbreaking information on early development as well as appearances by the real experts: babies and families.

Other films being shown are must-sees, including The Business of Being Born

Tiny hats bring attention to infant mortality — OrlandoSentinel.com

CLERMONT – They’re crafted with love and made to fit the tiniest of heads. Hundreds of pint-sized hats from around the world are pouring into a prenatal-care clinic in an effort to bring attention to infant death.

And when all the work is done, the hope is to have a dramatic and moving exhibit — hundreds of hats piled high at the Central Florida Kidfest & Family Expo on Saturday in Clermont — with the goal of bringing attention to infant mortality.

Read More via Tiny hats bring attention to infant mortality — OrlandoSentinel.com.