Birth cannot be hurried, Ina May will not be hurried, and "Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & the Farm Midwives" Documentary was certainly not going to budge either. Do you like quilts, women, history, color, b&w, humor, & goo ("goo" as Vanity Fair wrote) or all of the above? Then you will love to see Birth Story. It wasn't quite my expectation- not sure what was, but I initially found myself wishing the contemporary footage matched the evocative quality of the archival 70s archival footage. Then it became clear that if that were the case, the documentary would have been about Itself and it was very much and
exactly about Ina May (& husband Stephen- quietly) & the Farm Midwives. In a pacing that verged on languid, the film gently quilted together the life, and what will become, the legacy of Ina May's life and influence.
One of my favorite parts transitioned the different eras from contemporary to archival footage featuring one of The Farm's midwives birthing her baby. (Oh and by the way, the film is not for the faint of heart). In that moment of transition we were so beautifully taken back to birth, simply the beauty of birth. It didn't seem to be about her birth as a future midwife or what type of birth or how it related to the film- it was just beautiful footage of a woman birthing, which is really what it is all about.
From that birth, the film takes us thru the major markers in Ina May's life and work, by piecing together interview footage with some fabulous archival footage and some contemporary footage. In this documentary frame, the filmmakers present to us all the major stuff that we think of when we think of Ina May Gaskin- The Farm in Tennessee; her skill and knowledge about delivering a breech birth- a skill that young doctors are now seldom trained; how she was introduced to the Gaskin Maneuver used to relieve Shoulder Dystocia; her theory on the Sphincter Law (á la Failure to Progress) & the Safe
Motherhood Quilt Project. We even see the birth of an OP baby (face up), which isn't remarkable in itself but remarkable because the delivery itself and the response of Ina May were both gentle and slow- panic is the all too common response these days.
I loved every moment- can you tell? I only hope Ina May's skills do not become as archived as the documentary's 70s film footage.
Thank you Ina May and the Farm Midwives and thank you Stephen and the filmmakers for what was surely a tremendous labor of love.
Buy the DVD or for film & screening information please visit BirthStoryMovie.com.