Archive for the ‘Films about Childbirth’ Category

Updated “Birth By The Numbers” – A Valuable Tool for Childbirth Educators and Others

October 2nd, 2014 by avatar

birth by numbers header

One of the highlights of my attendance at the joint Lamaze International/DONA International Confluence in Kansas City, MO last month was the opportunity to hear Eugene Declercq, PhD, present a plenary session entitled “What Listening to Mothers Can Tell Us about the Future Challenges in US Maternity Care.”  Dr. Declercq is a professor of Maternal and Infant Health at Boston University School of Public Health. It is always a true pleasure to listen to Dr Declercq, not only for his delightful Boston accent, but also for the creative and impactful way that he shares data and facts about the state of maternity care, primarily in the United States.

declercq-headshotThis presentation was no exception and Dr. Declercq helped conference attendees to tease apart the information gleaned from the most recent Listening to Mothers III study, and look at this information  in relationship to data from the two previous Listening to Mothers studies.

Dr. Declercq reminded those of us in the audience that the most recent update of “Birth by the Numbers” was just made available on the Birth by the Numbers website.  I am a huge fan of the previous versions of this short film, that highlighted statistics on how the United States is doing on several key maternal and infant indicators in relation to other nations around the world.  The information continues to be both eye opening and sobering at the same time.  I encourage you to view the most recent edition included here.

I have seen Teri Shilling, the director of Passion for Birth, one of the Lamaze Accredited Childbirth Educator Programs, use the Birth by the Numbers video in a very clever way when training both doulas and childbirth educators.  This learning activity could also be adapted to use in your childbirth class.  Teri provides a worksheet with many of the important statistics that Dr. Declercq shares in his video, listed out.  The learner must watch the video and assign the correct definition to each relevant number listed.  It helps the viewer to really capture the significance of the different numbers, when they are closely listening for each one and then the video can be debriefed as a group.

Dr. Declercq’s website has tons of useful information that you can take into the classroom.  I subscribe to/follow the blog on his website and look forward to new articles when they come out.   Dr. Declercq also generously shares PowerPoint slides on both the “Birth by the Numbers” presentation as well as “Cesarean Birth Trends” that educators can freely use in their own classroom.

Should you be interested in maps and details on the cesarean birth trends for several other countries, including Australia, Brazil and Germany, that information is provided along with a state by state breakdown.

You can also find the updated Birth by the Numbers video on the Lamaze websites for professionals and for parents.

If you have not seen them, I also really enjoy Dr. Declercq’s  videos “The Truth about C-Sections” and “Debunking the Myth: Home Births are Dangerous” published in cooperation with Mothers Naturally

One last fun fact – did you know that Dr. Gene Declercq is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator!   Thanks Dr. Declercq for all you do to get solid data to all of us in fun and informative ways.  I appreciate it.

A challenge for you! How might you use the information in the updated video and on the Birth by the Numbers website in your childbirth class, with doula clients or with the patients you care for?  Do you have any teaching ideas that you would like to share with Science & Sensibility readers?  I would love to hear your creative ideas and I know others would too.  Sharing teaching tips helps all of us become better educators.



2014 Confluence, Cesarean Birth, Childbirth Education, Films about Childbirth, Lamaze International, Maternal Mortality, Maternal Mortality Rate, Maternal Quality Improvement, New Research, Research , , , ,

Review: Stages of Labor Third Edition: A Visual Guide DVD

January 7th, 2014 by avatar

SOL3_DVD-SThe Stages of Labor Third Edition: A Visual Guide has been a perennial favorite of childbirth educators for many, many years.  In fact, I clearly remember watching the Injoy precursor to this video in my own childbirth classes with my first daughter and she is almost 17 years old now.  The Stages of Labor video, first released in 1999, has always offered great animated visuals of what the mother’s body and her baby are doing during each phase and stage of labor.  I have been showing the second edition of this film to childbirth class families and doula trainees since it came out in 2006. Sidenote: I was probably not the only one happy to say good bye to funny first edition phrases  like “Roger, Roger, it doesn’t look like a baby!” and “We were interested in seeing what was coming down the pike.”

I was excited to be able to review the changes in this new third edition to see what had been updated and the information it contained.  My colleague, Penny Simkin, mentioned that she was delighted with some new material included on third and fourth stage information and I was very curious to see the updates.

Included with the 34 minute DVD is a downloadable Facilitator’s guide (that includes handouts appropriate for families) and a collection of digital posters.


As in previous editions, the DVD is divided up into sections that cover anatomy of pregnancy, pre-labor signs, onset of labor, as well as sections on the four (yes four!) stages of labor and birth.

At the beginning of the film, we meet four families who are ethnically diverse and include a partner-less mother who is supported by her family. One partner does not speak English, and his comments are translated into English sub-titles.  For the most part, the families look contemporary and current, one partner even has ear plugs/tunnels (some hip earring term that I am not sure of the name of!) in his ears and a hipster haircut!  The families share how excited they are to meet their babies.

The anatomy for pregnancy section quickly covers the organs and parts most likely to be discussed in childbirth classes.  I wish that the animated visuals included women with heads attached.  I find it disconcerting when images used in childbirth classes belong to faceless women.


Pre-labor is covered thoroughly and in a very positive way.  We are told that these contractions are warm up contractions, or pre-labor contractions and while a woman may not be in labor, they are normal and are helping to prepare her body and her baby for labor and may last for several weeks.  Women are told what to look out for in the case of preterm labor and advised, as they should be, to contact their health care provider if Braxton-Hicks contractions are frequent, or other warning signs appear.  I like that the film doesn’t specify doctor or midwife, but uses the term health care provider.

Onset of labor

Onset of labor is covered, from both the emotional and physical side, and families learn that normally it is the baby that starts labor when it is ready to breathe.  37 to 42 weeks is perfectly normal for most families, we are told.  One of the things that Injoy always does well in their Stages of Labor films, as they cover many topics, is they let people know that there is always a wide range of normal, no one feels excluded and each woman’s experience might be different.  I believe that families will be very reassured by this and the educator can reinforce this point.

First stage of labor

The film moves into the first stage of labor, which is divided into early, active and transition.  I love that Injoy has acknowledged the recent change to identify active labor as beginning at 6 centimeters and states that in early labor the cervix effaces and dilates to 4-5 centimeters.  I also loved that viewers are told that early labor can take many hours or even a day or longer!  Families are told what to look for when their water breaks, and this edition goes into more detail about the acronym “COAT” so families know what they are looking for, for example; “color may be either clear or brown.”  Families are reassured that fluid may continue to leak after breaking.

More than once in the film, we see the families using a smart phone to time contractions, as I believe happens very frequently with today’s families.

Easy to follow graphics showing the length, frequency and intensity of contractions in each phase are included, and a family will easily be able to understand how to time contractions.

Women are shown in early labor resting, eating, drinking, walking, showering and being supported by partners and family at home. One mother appears to be admitted to a hospital already in early labor but she looks relaxed and upbeat, and is seen walking and changing positions frequently.

It is suggested that women move to the hospital or birth center when they appear to be in active labor, and the women share how they knew that their labor was changing into active labor.  One family appears to arrive at what looks like a birth center when they hit active labor, where they stay through transition, with a large log bed, in what looks like a cozy bedroom, but later we see her deliver in a standard hospital bed/room in a hospital gown, so I became a bit confused as to how she got there.  Another mother arrives at the hospital in active labor and has a cervical exam and is determined to be 4 centimeters dilated, which earlier had been stated to be early labor. The 4-1-1 or 5-1-1 rule is used as a suggested guide on when to go to the birth location.

Women are seen changing positions frequently, receiving lots of verbal and physical support from partners and families and are using the tub, laboring on their hands and knees and using a birth ball.  All the things we want to encourage for our families.

Transition pulls no punches and it is clear that this is an intense and often difficult phase of labor.  I liked the scene of the single mother’s support person holding a large basin nearby for her in case she vomits.  Those tiny emesis basins are useless and this woman has the right tool for the job!  The level of support is stepped up for all the mothers, to help them through this challenging part of labor.

I really liked how the animated sections during the first stage frequently showed the baby’s head and body moving back and forth as if trying to find their way.  I like to tell my families that babies are not passive passengers, but rather active participants in the birth process, and this animated movement supports my statement that baby is trying to find the best way out too!  I must confess that I found the little scattered pieces of hair drawn on the baby’s head to be rather distracting to me, and wished for a full head of hair or a bald little baby!

Second stage – pushing and birth

While there are some parts of this section that I really liked, I think the second stage section was the segment that I was most disappointed in. Second stage seems a little bit “cleaner” in this third edition of Stages of Labor.  The animation and drawings of crowning show a sterile looking perineum (the drawing has no pubic hair) and we cannot see an anus in the drawing, which makes it look a bit unnatural and out of context.  Overall, the entire film is very modest, the women are clothed and any shots of cervical exams or babies being born are very tastefully staged for privacy.

The possible length of the pushing phase is accurate though no woman in class will be happy to hear that she might push for 3 plus hours, women should recognize that it is indeed a possibility.  All the women are shown pushing on their backs, with the support people holding the mother’s legs for her (do they have epidurals?) and there are just a very few brief shots of a woman using a squat bar, as she discusses how pushing on your back closes the pelvic outlet.  Unfortunately, this theme is not carried over to most of the second stage segment.  Even the animated graphics have baby being born while mother is on her back. Each baby is seen being delivered to a woman who is flat on her back.  It would have been lovely to have even one baby born to an upright mother.

I missed the use of the mirror or touching the head of the baby as the mother is birthing as is seen in the second edition.  I believe those are good tools for women to use during pushing.  We also don’t see the mother pushing on her hands and knees or even side-lying, as in previous films.

None of the babies are suctioned and all are passed up to the mother’s gowned chest immediately.  Most of the women have their family close by, but one poor father gets all teared up, but seems far away from his partner and their baby. Even during the delivery of the placenta, he was still standing alone,  I wanted to gently lead him to the head of the bed to be reunited with them.

Third stage – delivery of the placenta

This part of the process was presented very briefly but adequately.  The babies are all seen skin to skin with mom, and viewers are told that this helps calm baby and helps her to adapt to life on the outside.  We are told that the cord is cut a few minutes after birth, but no mention is made of the benefits to the baby of delaying the clamping or cutting of the umbilical cord.

Fourth stage – recovery

This section of the film is an absolutely lovely new addition! I was thrilled to see it being included in this third edition of Stages of Labor.  The physical changes (uterus shrinking, afterpains, and bleeding) are mentioned and viewers are told that both mother and baby will be monitored to make sure the transitions after birth are occurring normally for both.  Families learn about hormones that are present to help mother and baby bond in these first hours and in what I believe to be my favorite part of the film,  viewers are told “in the hours and weeks after birth, think of mom and baby as one unit that stays together just like it was during pregnancy…keeping mom and baby together with regular skin to skin contact helps the whole family bond.”  I think this is very significant and am so happy hear this.  It would have been nice to see more of the laid back breastfeeding positions, but babies are skin to skin and happy to be nursing and connecting with their mothers.  Perfect!


This third edition of the well loved and long running childbirth education film “Stages of Labor” offers some of the same great qualities of previous versions; great animation, a diverse group of families and clearly presented information that is easy to understand.  Showing this film in class can be a very effective way of covering a lot of ground and sharing accurate information.  There are many discussions that can be had after watching this film it and it has easy stopping and starting points if you want to break it into segments.  The addition of the importance of the fourth stage of labor and birth – keeping mother and baby together was long overdue and makes this video even more valuable to childbirth educators and others who work with birthing families.  It is suitable to show to all ages and is a very modest film, in terms of nudity or potentially “disturbing” scenes.  I recall the first edition as being the most “revealing” of all three films.

The animations really do a wonderful job of showing what is happening to the mother and the baby during the labor and birth process that static pictures could never do.  I would have preferred seeing women push in upright positions.  This DVD is an expensive purchase at $289.95 for the independent educator (or even for some hospital programs) but I believe it is well worth it.  You will use it over and over, it feels very much updated and reflects the new thoughts around active labor and the new fourth stage segment is very well done.  Much of the text and language is very similar to previous versions, but after watching it many times for this review, I find that it will be a nice change of pace and will feel very contemporary in my classroom.  The Spanish version of this DVD will be released in February, 2014.

Injoy Videos has asked me to extend a special offer to Science & Sensibility readers who would like to make a purchase of this DVD.  Receive free shipping on the purchase of Stages of Labor Third Edition: A Visual Guide by using code BSOL3SM14 at checkout.  This code expires on 1/31/14.

Have you seen this new edition yet?  Are you already using it in your classes?  Please share your thoughts in our comments section, I would love to know your opinion.

Please note that I did receive a review copy of the film for the purpose of writing this review.


Childbirth Education, Films about Childbirth, Films about Pregnancy , , , , , ,

Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators: A Valuable New Resource For Any Childbirth Educator

October 25th, 2012 by avatar

This is a big weekend for Lamaze International for many reasons.  The 2012 Innovative Learning Forum is happening starting tomorrow in Nashville, TN, and right now, childbirth professionals and those interested in improving maternity care for childbearing women are making their way to Nashville via plane, train and automobile to network, listen to a fantastic line up of keynote speakers, participate in interactive learning sessions taught by creative and dynamic presenters, shop and meet sponsors and exhibitors, enjoy good food, Nashville hospitality and socialize with men and women who share the belief that birth is normal.

If you are not able to join the party in Nashville, you do have the option of participating in the four general sessions presented by the keynote speakers through the virtual conference option.  Either way, there is an opportunity for expanding your knowledge and getting important new information about teaching pregnancy, birth, parenting and breastfeeding topics to expectant families.

New Resource for Educators

There is another exciting event happening at this weekend’s gathering.  Lamaze International unveils a brand new resource for childbirth educators; The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators. If you are at the conference this weekend, you can preview this toolkit at the Lamaze booth and participate in a contest to be entered in a drawing for the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos, a valuable part of the new toolkit.  (More info on the how to enter later in this post.)

The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators (Toolkit) is a brand new 317 page workbook created by Debby Amis, RN, BSN, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE and Jeanne Green, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE.  Debby and Jeanne have both held leadership roles in Lamaze International for many years, as well as contribute to other birth related organizations.  Together, Debby and Jeanne are the owners and directors of The Family Way Publications and Childbirth Educator Programs.

I wanted to review this Toolkit and let you know some of the highlights, so that you can be sure to allow time to check it out yourself at the Lamaze booth at the Forum or online, and consider adding the Toolkit to your own personal teaching resources.  After purchasing, I was easily able to download an electronic version of the Toolkit to my laptop.  For the purpose of this review, I chose to print out the Toolkit for easy access using my substantial Lamaze/FedEx discount that I receive as a benefit of being a Lamaze member.  An educator could easily chose to keep the electronic version handy and just choose to print out any handouts that will be utilized in class.

What’s Inside

The Toolkit is divided into 8 sections, starting off with “Dynamic Childbirth Education.”  Immediately, ideas are jumping off the pages on different methods of curriculum development, the components of a great class and preparations you might want to consider even before your class begins. There is something for everyone, no matter if you are a right brained creative thinker or a left brained in-depth organizer.  I found several new ideas for opening my childbirth classes and was excited to give some new things a try the next time I teach.

The Toolkit follows along with The Lamaze Fundamentals for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting with a section devoted to each one.  In each section, I found a list of selected materials and teaching aids that you might want to consider, along with information on where or how to acquire different items.  Teaching ideas, interactive learning methods, and active learning activities are so abundant throughout the book that it could be very easy to quickly choose a few favorites and immediately have a handful of ways to teach each topic you cover.  Another feature that I very much appreciated was the Lamaze web resources for each topic as well as other web links to useful pages, outstanding online videos and resources to share with class students.  In every section, the Lamaze principles that pregnancy and birth is normal, natural and healthy are apparent and the activities and teaching suggestions reinforce those principals while giving students confidence-building tools and ideas for pregnancy, birth and parenting.

Section V provides class outlines for all kinds of classes, including early pregnancy classes, series classes, and weekend classes, with a lesson plan for whatever your needs might be. Section VI: Resources provides suggestions for dozens of teaching aids and where to locate them for purchase if necessary. Sample presentation slides are outlined slide by slide, should you wish to supplement your class activities.  Lists of websites useful to childbirth educators are included, where no doubt you could get lost for days, mining the different sites for more useful and relevant information for you and your students.

Section VII: Handouts has an extensive collection of share-able handouts and worksheets loaded with fun activities, as well as examples of practical forms, such as sign in sheets, class evaluations, and review material for class participants.  Even items that you might email in advance of class or send as a follow-up to reinforce the material or facilitate discussions.  The 317 page Toolkit wraps up with Section VIII: References with the websites and research articles that support the preceding sections, should you wish to reference the original sources or seek more information.

There is an accompanying Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos included with the Toolkit.  This presentation is modifiable and includes over 80 colorful slides and embedded videos.  Or you may choose to purchase the PowerPoint Presentation alone for a reduced price.  The Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators (including PowerPoint and Videos) is $175 for Lamaze members and $350 for non-members.  Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos alone is $65/$140. These items are one-time purchases, and you do not need to purchase additional license for continued use.

No matter if you are a new educator, or one who has been teaching for years, I think you will be amazed at the sheer number of practical ideas, creative teaching methods, effective activities and course outlines that will be new to you and create excitement for you to mix things up with some of the Toolkit ideas.  I have just about 10 years of teaching childbirth classes under my belt and I found myself taking notes of new things I can’t wait to try!  You can teach an old dog new tricks.  I can only imagine how valuable a tool like this would have been when I was just starting out!  The days and days of work it would have saved me in preparing to teach my classes. Even now, I feel like it is fun for both students and myself, to mix things up, it keeps me on my toes and enjoying my work, and lets me offer fun and effective learning opportunities to the families I work with.  This Toolkit is a wonderful and fresh way to share the all the new messages, such as “Push For Your Baby” and others that Lamaze worked so hard to make just right!

I Am Lamaze Photo Contest- Win a Healthy Birth Practice Power Point presentation with videos

Lamaze Forum Attendees: show your pride! Share a photo of yourself at the conference via social media and you’ll have a chance to win a Healthy Birth Practice Power Point presentation with videos, just one of the resources in the brand new Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators. The full toolkit is a comprehensive online toolkit (312 pages), which offers interactive teaching strategies, ready-to-use handouts, class outlines, and an 88 slide complete PowerPoint presentation on the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices with teaching notes, and a full range of teaching resources. The Lamaze Toolkit also includes access to the easy-to-use resources and an online community with a discussion forum for sharing tips with other educators. Be sure to stop by Lamaze booth #104/106 to take a “test drive!”! Retail value of the Power Point Presentation is $65 for members and $140 for non-members.

There are three ways you can be eligible to enter:
1. Twitter: tweet a photo of yourself at the Forum and tag @lamazeadvocates and #lamaze12 to be eligible
2. Facebook: Post a photo of yourself at the Forum and tag LamazeEducators or post your photo to our wall:
3. Email a photo of yourself at the Forum to info@lamaze.org and we’ll post it to our Facebook album.

A winner will be chosen at random and announced on Sunday, October 28!


Added Bonus: Toolkit Forum
 There is an added bonus for anyone who purchases the Lamaze Toolkit for Childbirth Educators; Full access to a specialized forum on the Lamaze website, where you can interact with other community members who have also purchased this resource.  Have discussions, share ideas, successes and improvements you made, ask questions and learn how others are using this valuable tool.  Reach out and collaborate virtually with others who are also using the Toolkit in their classrooms.
If you are at the Innovative Learning Forum, stop by the Lamaze Booth and “test-drive” this new resource.  Remember to enter the drawing for the Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices PowerPoint Presentation with Videos during your stay in Nashville, to be awarded on Sunday, October 28th.  Or you can purchase the Toolkit here on the Lamaze site.  Once you have had a chance to take a peek, either at the booth or once you return home, let us know what you think and how your classes have changed using the resources available to you.



Book Reviews, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Films about Childbirth, Films about Pregnancy, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Lamaze 2012 Annual Conference, Lamaze Method, Push for Your Baby, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,

Early Bird Prices for 2012 Lamaze Innovative Learning Forum Ends 9/24! Are You Registered?

September 18th, 2012 by avatar


The 2012 Lamaze Innovative Learning Forum is scheduled for October 26-28 in Nashville, TN and now is the time to sign up for this exciting learning and networking opportunity. This year’s conference theme is “Safe and Healthy Birth: The Music of Our Head, Heart and Hands” and Lamaze International is offering a new approach, which includes more opportunities for interaction among attendees with lower costs and less time away from work and family. Contact hours good for Lamaze, Nursing, ACNM, IBCLC re-certifications will be awarded for attendance at this continuing education event.

The internationally recognized General Session speakers include Ina May Gaskin, (Birth Works, Why Don’t More People in the U.S. Know it?), Dr. Jack Newman, (The First Hour),  Steven B. Frye, (Adult Learning and Conceptual Change: Putting Theory to Practice), and Abby Epstein, (The Accidental Birth Advocate).

In between general sessions, you will be treated to Interactive Learning Sessions, where the topics of Maternal Safety, Infant Safety and Evidenced Based Teaching and Practice will be highlighted in the categories of Head, Heart and Hands.  Leave these sessions full of ideas to take back with you and implement to make your classes, client relationships and professional knowledge more effective and useful to all.

Morning Learning Sessions, Exercise Sessions, Film and Poster Presentations and a full Exhibit Hall present additional opportunities to learn, shop, connect and participate in all the 2012 Lamaze Innovative Learning Forum has to offer.

The social event of the conference, “Papas and Mamas Sing For Healthy Birth” Benefit Concert is a partnership between Lamaze International and Attachment Parenting International to benefit and celebrate healthy birth scheduled for Saturday evening.  The concert will feature Grammy winner Delbert McClinton and The McCrary Sisters.

You can save $145 dollars on the forum registration fee if you register by Monday, September 24, 2012, when “early bird” registration closes. This represents significant savings and a great value for your continuing education and conference dollars.

Choose to attend the pre-Forum workshops and attend a Lamaze Childbirth Education Seminar facilitated by DUKE AHEC or the Lamaze Evidenced-Based Nursing Care: Labor Support Skills Workshop facilitated by Judith Lothian and take advantage of the bundled registration fee for the specialized workshops and the 2012 Forum, saving yourself $100 in the process.

Stay a few extra days in Nashville and treat yourself to a DONA International Birth Doula Workshop led by Patricia Predmore, DONA International Birth Doula Mentor. Attendance at this workshop and the Forum saves you $50 over purchasing the two registrations separately.

Click here to register for the conference and get “early bird” rates when you register to attend by September 24, 2012.  You can also connect with other Forum attendees to find a roommate or two to share in your hotel costs at the beautiful Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel and take advantage of the special Lamaze Forum room rate.  You do not want to miss the childbirth education event of the year.  Sign up now.


Babies, Childbirth Education, Conference Schedule, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Films about Childbirth, Films about Pregnancy, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, Lamaze 2012 Annual Conference, Newborns, Push for Your Baby, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“What To Expect When You’re Expecting” A Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator Reviews The Film

June 19th, 2012 by avatar

Guest post by Ami Burns, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE

 “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” authored by Heidi Murkoff and contributer Sharon Mazel, is now in its all-new fourth edition, with over 17 million copies in print, and been a perennial favorite on The New York Times’ bestseller list for years.  According to USA Today, WTEWYE has been read by 93 percent of women who read a pregnancy book. In May, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting; The Movie” was released, directed by Kirk Jones, and starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Matthew Morrison, and others.  Over the years, the material and presentation style of the book have been questioned as potentially creating more fear and questions then providing reassurance and confidence to pregnant women.  When I heard that the movie had been released, I asked Ami Burns, a Chicago-based birthed professional to see the movie through the eyes of a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.  – SM

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan to see the film “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” you may want to read the review after you see the film.

What did I expect before buying my ticket to What To Expect When You’re Expecting, the film inspired by Heidi Murkoff’s book? To be honest, not much.  I’m not a fan of the book, and I assumed the movie would be another Hollywood portrayal of birth as an emergency, or featuring bumbling dads who don’t know what to do, along with a mom screaming, telling him what an idiot he is as she purple pushes her baby out. 

I knew I had to leave my judgement at the ticket counter if I was going to review the movie with my “childbirth educator/doula” hat on, not my “Matthew Morrison is hot so it won’t be a total waste of money if the movie stinks” one.

Lamaze International has the Six Healthy Birth Practices that offer evidence and research which provides a solid foundation for promoting safe and normal birth. Would What To Expect touch on even one? I was curious to find out.

Before I get to answer the question of how well WTEWYE does in following the Healthy Birth Practices, it’s worth noting that as far as childbirth education in general, the only mention comes during a short scene at the doctor’s office when the mom and dad to-be played by Cameron Diaz and Matthew Morrison see a flyer about The Bradley Method. Diaz says Morrison needs to learn it, but we never hear anything else about it, or see anyone take a birth class – Bradley, Lamaze or any other – throughout the movie.

So, let’s take a look at each care practice and see how WTEWYE stacks up against each one.

1.    Let Labor Begin On Its Own

I was pleasantly surprised that the women all went into labor naturally – one mom even has a strong contraction on live television. The dad played by Chris Rock talks about walking and having sex to start labor. There’s no mention of induction or augmentation, and one mom’s water breaks as she’s walking around. Nice!

2.    Walk, Move Around and Change Positions Throughout Labor

There are a few scenes that show the moms in hospital beds,  but at least they’re upright. A mom leans on the wall as her husband rubs her back, and the character played by Brooklyn Decker – a young mom of twins who has the perfect pregnancy —  labors on a birth ball at home.

3.   Bring a Loved One, Friend or Doula for Continuous Support

Just like there’s barely a mention about childbirth education, doulas aren’t mentioned either. Labor support isn’t talked about in general, but the fathers are very supportive during the births.

4.    Avoid Interventions That Aren’t Medically Necessary

Again, I am happy to report no talk of induction or planned cesarean section – even for the mom carrying twins. Elizabeth Banks’ character, who comes prepared with a birth plan, eventually chooses an epidural, reaches 10 cm, but the doctor suggests a cesarean section since the baby’s heart rate is low. Her husband holds her hand during the operation.

5.  Avoid Giving Birth On Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push

Here I am on the 5th Healthy Birth Practice and still impressed!  One mom uses a squat bar, another pushes semi sitting, and Decker’s character not only only gives birth to twins vaginally, she literally sneezes one of the babies out.

6.    Keep Your Baby With You – It’s Best for You, Your Baby and Breastfeeding

While the labor and birth experiences were good, the fimmakers could have done a much better job with this one. Banks’ character owns a store, The Breast Choice, even before she conceives, but we don’t see any of the new moms nursing – or even bottle feeding, for that matter. I was disappointed that one of the last scenes in the hospital is of two dads talking as they watch their babies – and many others – in the nursery.

I’m also glad the filmmakers showed some of the realities of pregnancy – mainly Banks’ character, who is expecting the “perfect glow,” but instead has hemmorhoids, sore breasts and incontinence – and isn’t afraid to be honest about it.

So, I didn’t expect much going in, but overall found What To Expect When You’re Expecting a breezy, romantic comedy that didn’t make the childbirth educator in me cringe.

Did you see the movie? What are your thoughts? Would you recommend this movie to your classes? Could you use clips of this movie in your classes as teaching moments?  Have your students and families been to see this and brought up the film  in class?  What has been their opinions?  Let’s share ideas and thoughts on how we as educators can be better prepared to respond to comments and observations by families we work with.

 About Ami Burns

Ami Burns, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, is the founder of Birth Talk. In addition to teaching, she uses her media background to promote healthy birth. Ami produced the Telly Award-winning 50 Years of Childbirth Education for Lamaze International, and writes for numerous websites, including allParenting.

Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Films about Childbirth, Films about Pregnancy, Guest Posts, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, Maternity Care, Uncategorized , , , , , ,

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