Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Big Stretch - A Film Review

The Big Stretch, an Australian DVD, has done what many other childbirth DVD's fail to do - it has given the voice and authority of women, to women rather than experts. Twelve mothers tell how pregnancy, labor and postpartum 'stretched' them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As a mother myself, I found most of their insights incredibly apt and useful. There are first time mothers, sixth time mothers and everything in between. Although all of them used midwives and had home births (but one, who tells with raw emotion what a hospital transfer was like for her), that is not the point of the video, in fact home birth is never directly mentioned or promoted.

From conception to operating on little sleep, mothering is a reworking of most of our internal structures, literally and metaphorically. It takes a lot of you to welcome another being into the world. As one woman said in the film, " I feel like I just went from being a girl to being a woman." That's a beautiful and desirous thing. For it's straight talk on labor pains, breastfeeding, and postpartum emotions, I recommend this for first time moms. For the real anxieties associated with subsequent mothering (will I be able to do it?, how will the other kids cope?), I recommend this for experienced moms.

The setting is lush, green and tropical, fertile actually - an appropriate setting for a film on birthing women! There is a lot of nudity in the film, nudity that doesn't have to do with birthing women. I'm not sure the reason for this, maybe the tropical environment. Or maybe it was to push the limits of the viewer, to 'stretch' our boundaries so to speak, which is something this film does quite well. The Big Stretch forces women to step into the shoes of mothers and walk with them for a spell, listen to their fears and triumphs, laugh and marvel at what they become, and in so doing, honor what we as mother's can also become; stretched, still ourselves, but larger, languid, and less rigid.

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