Midwife: A documentary about home birth

Local birth photographer turned filmmaker, Allison Kuznia, writes about the making of her new documentary.

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For the past decade, through my births, as well as in my work as a birth photographer, I have been intrigued by the world of home birth midwifery.

So I decided to make a movie about it.

My goal in making the movie was to show the art, beauty, and compassion within home birth midwifery.  But, as I went through the process of filming and conducting interviews with women and midwives from other states where home birth midwifery is not legal, a bigger message emerged from the movie as well.

I talked with a midwife from Iowa who was arrested in 2007 for practicing medicine without a license. I talked with the women behind Birth Matters in South Dakota, a state where their home birth midwives received cease and desist orders, and the women who wanted to birth at home were left with options they didn’t want to face: 1) birthing in a hospital, 2) having an unassisted birth, or, 3) crossing the border to have a hotel birth with a midwife from another state. I talked with a couple who described what they went through in finding an underground home birth midwife while they lived in Nebraska, and comparing that to how easy and accessible it was to find a home birth midwife after they moved to Minnesota.

Through these interviews, the message behind this movie started to come together on its own: Families deserve the right to choose where and with whom they birth.

While the documentary follows Twin Cities home birth midwife, Sarah Biermeier of Geneabirth, through her first year, from prenatals, to births (including a wonderful VBAC2), to postpartums, it also examines what the birth environment looks like in states where home birth midwifery is not legal and families are faced with fewer birth options. In an act that should be simple, giving birth has become a human rights issue and a political event.

A homebirth midwife

Other communities around the country, especially those in states where groups are working toward the decriminalization of home birth midwifery, have requested and are hosting screenings of the film. The premiere screening will be here in Minnesota. The film will be available for purchase on DVD and online streaming after the new year.

Midwife Documentary – Trailer from Allison Kuznia on Vimeo.

Midwife is premiering at The Heights Theater on Tuesday, September 24 at 7 pm with a 30 minute Q&A following the film. Visit www.midwifethedocumentary.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

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