What’s wrong with birth in the U.S.? It’s time to ask mothers, according to the new documentary “Birth In Pieces.”
Making “Birth In Pieces” has been a three-year labor of love for El Paso’s El Jardín Birth and Family Resource Center. The documentary focuses on problems within the healthcare system faced by women during pregnancy and childbirth, as told by mothers themselves. Click here to view the movie trailer.
“Birth In Pieces” will premiere at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Montecillo at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 31. The screening will be followed by a Q&A. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at https://bit.ly/2VV9qOw.
“This movie is important because there are a lot of women who want to share their story and make their voices heard, in order to affect change on the problems they experienced first hand within the maternal healthcare system,” said the documentary’s director and El Jardín co-founder Nicole Cobb.
Three El Pasoans Lizabeth Berkeley, Naomi Fertman and Cobb founded El Jardín in 2013. The organization’s mission is “to nurture a regional culture through education and advocacy that supports, cares for and empowers women during their critical transition of birth and parenthood.” El Jardín offers support for new moms and families through programs such as their Breast-Feeding Garden, peer support groups, music classes and guest speakers. The Paso del Norte Community Foundation provides fiscal and administrative support to El Jardín, and support efforts to grow the resources they need to further their mission.
“The three of us, when we started El Jardín, all came from different backgrounds and we didn’t have experience running a nonprofit,” Cobb said. “We needed that infrastructure to support us. The Paso del Norte Community Foundation really helped us grow and look for funding opportunities.”
The idea for the movie came from all of the conversations and discussions between mothers taking part in El Jardín programs.
“The more we heard stories from mothers, the more we realized people like telling their birthing stories,” said Berkeley. “It’s a defining watermark in many women’s life and some mothers felt like, once the baby was born, it becomes all about the baby and the mother was just a receptacle. Mothers sometimes get ignored.”
The creation of the documentary comes at a timely moment, when maternal mortality rates are on the rise in the U.S. Since 2000, maternal mortality has risen steadily, giving the U.S. the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world.
Berkeley, Cobb and Fertman all agree that listening to women’s experiences within the childbirth system could not only affect a change in the maternal mortality rate, but also have positive impacts on other areas of clinical childbirth that affect the mental and physical health of mothers and babies.
“I’m very hopeful the documentary will have a ripple effect,” said Fertman. “I hope women and families watch this documentary and feel empowered in their birth choices and know that they are not alone and feel supported in their decisions. And they’re not alone if they’ve had a traumatic birthing experience. These are systemic problems and moms need to know, if they had a traumatic experience, they didn’t do anything wrong.”
Berkeley who is a certified lactation consultant is hopeful and excited that the ideas presented in “Birth In Pieces,” and programs like El Jardín are putting El Paso on the cutting edge of changing the tide for expectant mothers.
“We started by saying, let’s listen to moms from El Paso -- and really nobody is less understood than El Paso,” said Berkeley. “These mothers were so passionate and beautiful and full of emotion -- from rage to love for their babies. We need to see their faces and hear their voices.”
For more information on El Jardín’s programs and the film, visit eljardinbirthandfamily.org. Those interested in supporting El Jardin Birth & Family Resource Center, click here.