Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weekend Movie: "Everyday Miracles"

I've been shopping around looking for videos to use in my childbirth ed classes. Many have spoken highly of this one: "Everyday Miracles". I plan on buying the DVD, but handily, it's also available to view via the excellent, resource-laden Mother's Advocate site.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. I think it could be good as an introductory video - it's a good overview, and I like that it shows some supportive, natural practices in a hospital setting (since, realistically, that's the majority of whom I will be teaching). It's only 8 minutes in its entirety, another advantage for class.

What do you think?

I do want to find videos that are a little more, well, graphic. While being more liberal than you might see on basic cable, these deliveries are still pretty sanitized, and I think it's a good idea to get both mom and partner very comfortable and accustomed to the realities of birth. Thoughts from a Doula had a great post about this - I do hope to follow her example! A sliced-up excerpt:

A few of the dads in my last series came in with some squeamish reservations, putting on a brave face but doubting their ability to view and support the act of birth without some sort of visceral or fear-based reaction. I had a lot of questions on the first day about the emotional repercussions that couples experience in their postpartum sex lives as a result of the dad’s ‘trauma’ by seeing the birth, and also a lot of questions about what exactly they would have to see, and if it was possible for them to see little, less, or none of it at all. I heard about fear of blood, and being afraid to watch their partners be in so much pain and not being able to do anything about it—the old adage that partners of laboring mothers are ‘helpless’. These are not uncommon questions, and I get them all in some form with every group.

I start slow, showing things on the more modest end of the spectrum, and work my way up to a few more ‘extreme’ births. Starting slow is no consolation to many dads, as they have never seen a birth in their life, and it seems so PRIVATE and INVASIVE and INTIMATE and PAINFUL to watch. To say they are uncomfortable when viewing these films is quite an understatement.

So, we start slow, but I don’t pull any punches. This is desensitization. I will explain exactly what they are going to see, what they need to watch for, and what I want them to learn from watching each film. My goal here is for them to see so much birth that it starts to look familiar, and no longer sounds the alarm in the part of your brain that detects danger. This same part of your brain produces anxiety as a fight or flight response to perceived ‘danger’. By watching these videos week after week, I take away the threat that theses birth images pose from the men in my classes. It’s a slow and subtle process, but it works. Even if they make faces, or turn away, they slowly acclimate to the images before them, so that when their partner is laboring, he has nothing left but the knowledge of what to do to comfort and support her, and his own emotions of anticipation, excitement, empathy, and perhaps a little sleepiness.

I perform my weekly ‘exposure therapy’, where we see bodies and births and babies galore. Eventually their responses grow less physical, and I see fewer and fewer grimaces, even as I start to show videos that are VERY graphic, and more intense than anything they are likely to see at their own birth—like the unassisted home birth of twins, where the second one is a footling breech. They may not enjoy the videos, but they don’t bother them much anymore. And since I have 12 weeks to do this, it’s quite effective, and in the end, they almost all thank me for showing the videos I did, realizing that this allowed them to attend their birth without fear—something birth classes often only focus on for the mother.
So for those who are more experienced teachers, what videos do you like? There's another classic childbirth ed video I've heard good things about called "Special Delivery", but I don't know if it's worth the higher price, especially if it seems dated. I'm also reluctant to use "Birth into Being"/"Birth As We Know It" since I worry about the freaky hippie alienation factor (though I myself appreciate the lessons therein). Can you tell I'm extremely picky? I do plan to use YouTube, for sure, so either formal DVDs or public YouTube videos are all fair game.

By the way, I'm definitely opening with this, a.k.a. contender for the best birth captured on film of all time:


  1. I just saw this video, and loved it:

    There are actually a ton of great birth videos on Youtube - have you searched there? Lots of great waterbirth videos too. I've posted some of them if you surf through my archives.

  2. Oops - just saw that you're looking through Youtube - missed that part. Good luck! There are some great ones, some not so great, some great only for birth junkies - but good stuff if one spends enough time searching.

  3. I absolutely love that video!!! I am amazed; she doesn't look like she's in pain whatsoever. :) Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Excellent. Both of them. xo, Reba

  5. For the dads, I would strongly advise "Father-Coached Childbirth" by Robert Bradley. This is the book that Joe read a few months before we had Makayla, and it really helped bring him on board about not just being there for the birth, but participating as my support. I didn't need him to "do" anything for me, but be there for me and support me in the kind of birth I wanted. It really goes into detail about what a woman's body is going through, the stages of labor and how to help support the laboring woman. Joe highly recommends that book for any new dad...I do, as well.

    Love the video!!

  6. * Correction: the title of the book is "Husband-Coached Childbirth". :)

  7. The first video is a great into. I was kind of surprised it was actually in a hospital. Is that a DOCTOR rubbing the woman's back? :) The hospitals around here don't let you walk the halls. I was with a mom who desperately wanted to get out of her room during an induction but was told they didn't want her "dripping all over the halls". Oy.
    The second video is one of the best, you're right. I've watched it a dozen times and still love it!