Forty years ago, Ina May Gaskin led the charge away from isolated hospital birthing rooms, where husbands were not allowed and mandatory forceps deliveries were the norm. Today, as nearly one-third of all US babies are born via C-section, the founder and director of The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee and author fights to preserve her community’s hard-won knowledge. On Feb. 8th, The Shining Light Prenatal Education honors her legacy with a special pre-release screening of Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives.
Directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore, the feature-length documentary tells the story of the counterculture heroine and her spirited friends, who began delivering each other’s babies in 1970, on a caravan of hippie school buses, headed to a patch of rural Tennessee land. With Gaskin as their leader, the women taught themselves midwifery from the ground up, and, with their families, founded an entirely communal, agricultural society called The Farm. They grew their own food, built their own houses, published their own books, and, as word of their social experiment spread, created a model of care for women and babies that changed a generation’s approach to childbirth. With access to the midwives’ archival video collection, the film not only captures the unique sisterhood at The Farm Clinic–from its heyday into the present–but shows childbirth the way most people have never seen it–unadorned, unabashed, and awe-inspiring.
Proceeds from the screening will benefit Shining Light’s new scholarship fund, which allows pregnant women and their partners to take free or reduced price classes. Birth Story begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Shining Light center. There’s a suggested donation of $10 for tickets, which are available for purchase at the organization’s website, or at the door.