This is Birth: A Documentary by Lisa Ling

Newborn sleeping in blanket

This is Birth: A Documentary by Lisa Ling

As a doula and student midwife, it’s sometimes difficult to explain my profession to people. My automatic answer is, “I help deliver babies!” This normally either scares people off or intrigues them enough to ask more questions. I want to strike a balance between educating people about the kind of gentle, supportive births that I know doulas and midwives make possible and overloading them with too much information. Birth workers have a reputation as hippies, witches, medicine women, that is often negative and not indicative of the very professional and important work that we do.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a midwife, and that’s definitely not the kind of answer people expect a high school girl to give to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I grew up surrounded by the same birth stories that American women are receiving from their friends, mothers, movies, and television shows. Birth is scary and dangerous; it doesn’t go according to plan. You are alone with your partner expected to rush to the hospital as your water breaks, screaming in pain. In college I set out to think about when, where, and why American women are giving birth in the ways that we are. It used to be that birth was a community experience; by the time you were ready to have a baby you would have been present at your mother’s, sister’s, and friends’ births. Instead of walking into the hospital with little knowledge of what is about to happen, you would have been at home surrounded by supportive friends and family.

Without having been present for a live birth, modern American women learn these stories through media. We watch televised births and dramatized movies of emergency cesarean sections and episiotomies. In my academic work I analyzed documentary films that were trying to tell a different story. While mass media is focuses on what is (supposedly) happening in the hospital, there is a whole genre of documentary films giving the viewer access to birth in a different way. The Business of Being Born (2007) is by far the most popular of these, having been produced by celebrity Ricki Lake. Joining the ranks of these films is Lisa Ling’s online journalistic series This is Birth.

Tackling subjects from cesarean sections to home births, surrogacy to fertility treatments, Ling’s online series compiles both video footage and articles to paint a portrait of American pregnancy and childbirth in 2016.

READ MORE
Premature Birth: Understanding Your Risk

Ling recorded these tapes and worked on the series leading up to her second birth for which she was planning a second cesarean section. Though she turns a critical eye to the medical system as a business and institution and speaks to countless experts about the benefits of vaginal delivery, Ling continues through with her choice of a second elective cesarean. Upon being discharged after the birth of her second daughter Ling developed an infection. This combined with the difficult recovery from a second surgery lead her to write the article accompanying her first video, “Why I Regret My Scheduled C-Section.”

By far the most personal segment of the series, Ling’s reporting on c-sections touches on the significance of birth experiences for women: “It is a leap of faith.” Birth is a deeply personal experience that initiates a woman into motherhood. Many women reflect on their birth experiences and are fuzzy on the details, but they never forget how the experience of giving birth made them feel. Far from critiquing the birth choices of individual women, Ling dives into the systems behind the rising cesarean section rates in the United States. The matrix of hospital business models, insurance reimbursement policies, convenience and efficiency of modern surgery, and the medial training that obstetricians receive intertwine to create the 32% cesarean rate we have seen in the United States since 2009, high above the 10-15% rate recommended by the World Health Organization.

Expanding from her own experiences, Ling explores the options available for American women today. Our choices are constantly critiqued by both professionals and other mothers a like. Choose to freeze your eggs or have your baby at home or use a surrogate and someone will have something to say about how you are building your family.

READ MORE
Is Baby Coming Soon? Signs of Labor

Ling uses her voice as a (celebrity) journalist to put faces and names behind the stories of women giving birth with Certified Professional Midwives, choosing to delay motherhood and utilize modern technology, find alternate routes to conceiving a child. Her compelling questions help to put into perspective the individuality of family for each of us; circumstances and choices may differ, but at the heart of all of this is a deep and compelling sense of love and community.

She ties together the strings of the series with a segment on discrimination. Pregnant women and mothers in the United States are still discriminated against in the workplace, and it’s almost 2017, people.

Despite the growing number of working pregnant mothers and moms, companies are still refusing to make accommodations to ensure their safety and ability to continue working. Though we pride ourselves on being a country built on family values, we are failing to take care of the leaders of these families. No matter the way in which the family is formed, the choices that mothers may make, they all have a right to be protected.

Lisa Ling’s project probably pulled at my postpartum doula heart strings the most. The mommy guilt seems to set in hardest right after baby is born, and there aren’t enough diverse stories of pregnancy and childbirth being told. These women can’t turn on the television and see their birth experiences or normalize their feelings. Women feel alienated and alone, judged at a time when what is really necessary is support. I am so happy that Ling used her platform to tell these stories, normalize these experiences, and bring focus to the diverse range of choices mothers are making today.

READ MORE
Side Effects of an Epidural

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Lisa Ling’s ‘This is Birth.’ What did you think?

About the Author /

Mary Alice is a midwife in Houston, Texas and is the Manager & Editor here at Baby Chick! She loves to work with families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum to educate them about their choices and facilitate peaceful transitions into parenthood.

#FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM
Instagram post 17853710218663622 ⁠When you put her in everything pink and even pink hair ties but everyone still calls your baby a boy. 😒😂🤷‍♀️⁠
📷: @newmumshub⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17936649685321666 How many babies do you see?⁠ 😮⁠
📷: @danielmarquez33⁠
Repost: @maternity⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #mumlife #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #pregnancy #pregnant #momtobe #pregnancylife #mamatobe #pregnancyjourney #bumpie #preggo #maternity #expecting #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick
Instagram post 17851276954712844 When you're at the end of your pregnancy and you have to start answering the phone with "No, I'm not in labor." 🤦‍♀️😂⁠
📷: @chelsabryan⁠
.⁠
#pregnancy #pregnant #pregnancytip #momtobe #pregnancylife #mamatobe #firstpregnancy #momstruggles #momprobs #babybump #pregnancyjourney #bumpie #motherhood #thirdtrimester #preggo #maternity #motherhood #momlife #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #momhumor #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #uniteinmotherhood #mommychick #babychick
Instagram post 17866700860543087 ❤️❤️❤️ Play is a love language for children.⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #parentig #letthembelittle #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #mommychick #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17905061554388493 A little compassion can go a long way. ❤️ Here are some things that can help when in doubt ⁠what to do.⁠
📷: @healthline⁠
.⁠
#depression #postpartum #postpartumdepression #PPD #postpartummooddisorders #mentalhealth #selflove #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #mindfulness #love #healing #positivity #babychick
Instagram post 17850784273708011 From fab to feral. 😹⁠ Love you, honey!⁠
📷: @mommymemejeans⁠
Repost: @onefunnymummy⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18004974676264288 Or try to open the door mid-pee⁠. 😑😑😑 Thanks, kid.⁠
📷: @aleeandria⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #mommychick #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18070428667166782 My nightly skincare routine. 🤣🤣 For real though . . . I need all the help I can get. #latherup⁠
📷: unknown⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17852873872664390 Harvesting colostrum . . . look at all of that liquid gold!⁠ 😍 If your baby comes early or you are already lactating before baby arrives, it’s great to hand express into a teaspoon and gather what you’ve collected into a syringe. #breastfeedingtip
📷: @boo.b.ltd
.⁠
#breastfeeding #motherhood #momlife #postpartum #nursing #momtobe #normalizebreastfeeding #newmom #mumlife #colostrum #liquidgold #breastmilk #motherhoodthroughinstagram #mommylife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #mommychick #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18081663985089005 Do you SEE me struggling as I try to open the door?? Nope? Cool . . . just walk on by. 😑😫👿⁠
📷: @modernmomprobs⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Instagram post 18113982706026763 Praying that all the babies sleep through the night! 🙏💤⁠
📷: @hallmarkbaby⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Instagram post 17893588471419368 ⁠Gosh, they can be such a pain in the ass sometimes. But then when they stop and look at you with those puppy dog eyes, you can’t help but scoop them up and love on them. They might be a pain in the ass but they are YOUR pain in the ass. 😂❤️ (From one mother of a strong-willed--read exhausting and opinionated--kid to another!)⁠
📷: @humorandwine⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Instagram post 17853985321641015 I feel like several people have been going over a week past their due dates lately . . . Is it something in the water? 🤔 How many days before or after your due date did you have your baby? 👶❤️⁠
.⁠
#pregnancy #pregnant #newmom  #momtobe #pregnancylife #motherhood #mamatobe #momlife #babybump #pregnancyjourney #bumpie #EDD #preggo #duedate #birth #maternity #expecting #mumlife #mommytobe #pregnantlife #babyontheway #inspirepregnancy #mommychick #babychick
Instagram post 17899717765403522 ❤️ How to Help When Visiting a New Mom – Podcast Ep 21 ❤️⁠
.⁠
Becoming a new mother, whether it be your first baby or your sixth, is filled with so many emotions. 🎢 Figuring out your new normal can take a minute as you recover from giving birth and get to know your new baby. People will be at your doorstep in no time wanting to congratulate you and meet your baby, but sometimes people aren't necessarily thinking about what they can do for YOU to be helpful. If you know someone who has recently had a baby or if you are currently expecting, today’s podcast episode is for you! ❤️ {Link in bio!}⁠
.⁠
This episode is brought to you by @skylightframe. It's a digital picture frame that has a touch-screen display that documents all of your family’s special moments—a great gift for yourself or for an expecting or new mom. If you want to bring a nice gift when visiting a new mom, be sure to check out Skylight Frame and use our discount code BABYCHICK for $10 off your order! #ad #skylightframe⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #newmom #postpartum #mumlife #mommylife #postpartumlife #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17920976449353517 💪 Mom Hacks for Staying Fit After Having Kids⁠
.⁠
Going to keep it real here, your fitness game is going to change after having kids. If you were crushing it before having babies, you're going to find that the free time for working out isn't what is used to be.⁠
.⁠
Regardless of where you were at, there are things you can do to make your heath a priority and be a good example to your little ones.⁠
.⁠
1. Don't rush back. There's no gold star here. Take your time, get the clearance from your OB/midwife and start when you're ready.⁠
.⁠
2. Schedule your workouts. Like most things in life now, you're on a schedule. Create time in your new life for you -- you'll thank yourself later.⁠
.⁠
3. Ask for Help. Chances are high that the Mom down the street is looking for some kid free time as well. You take an hour, she takes an hour and we're all better off for it.⁠
.⁠
4.  Embrace the little things. Your day will present opportunities to get your butt moving. Find them.⁠
.⁠
5. Get a new outfit. Because, duh.⁠
.⁠
6. Join a fitness community. It's scientifically proven that external motivators work when it comes to starting and sticking with a fitness routine. Utilize your community for support and motivation.⁠
.⁠
Words & 📸 : @juna.moms⁠
.⁠
#fitmom #newmom #fitness #fitspo #momlife #fitnessmotivation #fitlife #healthylifestyle #healthyliving #fittip  #motherhood #momtobe #mommylife #momsofinstagram #babychick #fitfam
Instagram post 17847795697730464 Royalty or not, we’re all just trying to do our best. ❤️⁠
(quote: Kate Middleton)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #mommychick #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17863400905557801 Becoming a mother makes you realize you can do almost anything one-handed. 💁‍♀️⁠
📷: @hanna_wol⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
Instagram post 17865176050536267 Tell this to your kids when they are having a hard day or struggling. ❤️⁠
📷: @momthesedays⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18004050754269786 "All the feelings apply to all the moms, in all the stages. We're more alike than not." ❤️⁠
(quote via @catandnat)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17844140491774206 ⁠🎵 I’ve got my whole world in my hands
I’ve got my whole wide world in my hands
I’ve got my whole world in my hands
I’ve got my whole world in my hands 🎵
.
When you meet your baby(ies) and your whole world changes. 💕
📷: @megbed
.
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #twins #twinsmom #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18110828746014338 The first year after baby is the leading time when marriages break up. The extra stress, lack of sleep, and major life changes can all contribute to communication breakdown and losing intimacy. 💔 That's why protecting relationships is such an important part of postpartum planning (done in pregnancy). Parenthood is an emotionally provocative experience. These heightened emotions help you tune into your baby's needs, but it can also help you tune into each other.⁠
.⁠
Speak your partner's love language in postpartum. Send this resource to your loved one so that they can make you feel loved and supported in a meaningful way.⁠
Words & 📸: @birthbossco⁠
.⁠
#postpartum #postpartumlife #newmom #newparent #momlife #mumlife #motherhood #4thtrimester #fourthtrimester #motherhoodunplugged #parenting #motherhoodrising #momsofinstagram #mommychick #babychick #lovelanguage #mommylife #marriage #relationships
Instagram post 17934950050319412 EXACTLY! 🙌 I wish more moms knew this and didn't feel pressured to say yes automatically to guests--of course, unless they want to! 😊 But you can always say no and not right now. Take your time to bond with your new baby. If you want people to come over, great! But don't feel bad if you don't and want more time alone with your family. People who love you should understand. ❤️⁠
(quote via @psychedmommy)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #mommychick #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 18003898246270151 YUP! Thought I would run a tight ship but turns out I can't contain this circus. 🤦‍♀️⁠
📷: @badparentingmoments⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣
Instagram post 17892508969418384 When you go out of town for a few days and your family realizes all that you do for them and the house. 😂⁠
(quote via @playdatesonfridays)⁠
.⁠
#motherhoodthroughinstagram #momlife #motherhood #momstruggles #momprobs #mumlife #mommylife #parenthood #motherhoodunplugged #realmoms #momstatus #thatmomlife #realmomlife #momsofinstagram #momhumor #motherhoodrising #ig_motherhood #uniteinmotherhood⁣ #babychick⁣ #mommychick
  • Sort by:

  • Category:

  • Tag:

  • Type: