DER Documentary

Woman To Woman

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by Amínata Maraësa
color, 26 min, 2003


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Woman to Woman is a documentary that offers a portrayal of the mainstream medicalized American birthing model and the rise of the doula profession that seeks to counter what doulas believe to be the ill effects of the overuse of medical technology. The film takes a retrospective look at one couple's decision to give birth with doula assistance while offering insightful commentary from doulas themselves.

“Doula” is a Greek word meaning handmaiden, servant, or slave. Translated into the American birthing system, she is a woman who establishes professional contact with a woman usually in the last trimester of her pregnancy and is on-call for her birth. The doula accompanies the pregnant woman throughout her labor and delivery. She provides the continuity of care not offered in a mainstream hospital setting, assisting the laboring woman and her partner both physically and emotionally.

As an objective and educated participant, the doula is able to explain the stages of labor as they occur and offer alternatives to the routinized medical protocol. Statistics and oral testimony demonstrate that the presence of a doula decreases a woman's chances of having a cesarean section and increases her ability to give birth without medical intervention.

Woman to Woman weaves together footage from an 18 hour doula assisted labor and birth with interviews from doulas discussing the use of drugs during labor, pain management, and the role of male partners and family. The film also explores one doula's decision to birth at home with doula assistance. Through these stories, we hear the rationale behind doula assisted childbirth ranging from the wish to give birth free from drugs to the desire to surrender to the labor while feeling confident that one will be cared for.

Woman to Woman is a story about natural childbirth as well as about the empowerment of women and their partners. And it is also a story about activism. While doulas are working to make a difference in the lives of other women, they are also making political ground within the mainstream medical establishment.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association Conference, Chicago, 2003
Broadcast, FreeSpeech TV, 2004
American Psychological Association Annual Convention, Washington DC, 2005

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