Birth Wars, a film to attend and reflect on maternal health in Mexico

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Year after year thousands of pregnant women enter Mexican clinics to become mothers amid violent obstetric environments, oversaturated facilities and dense atmospheres. The experience of giving birth becomes a traumatic event for many of them, who also face childbirth without the company of their partner. That health system, prevailing in large cities, forces various questions after seeing Birth Wars, a work by Janet Jarman.




Selected to be exhibited at the International Film and Environment Festival of Mexico, This documentary focuses on exploring midwifery in our country, a traditional maternal health option in rural communities that is stigmatized and demonized by medical professionals, but the one that hundreds of women prefer to bring a child into the world, among other things, because they avoid abuse and humiliation.

There are also those young people and adults who resort to this alternative due to the lack of economic support and accessibility to health services, as well as due to the fact of residing in isolated communities or without hospital infrastructure. “With my story I want to tell how to improve the experience for pregnant women through midwifery”, Janet Jarman tells Spoiler about the message her movie sends.

“I wanted to show the work of the midwives. I saw that they earned the respect of many communities, of many families. His way of treating women during pregnancy, childbirth and after giving birth was an obstetric model that fascinated me ”, says the director after having explored midwifery work in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero.

An experienced photographer, Janet wanted to move from the still photo to the moving camera after fully delving into the contrasts of maternal health in Mexico. In this sense, a point that helped define itself for making the documentary was the way in which the national health system nullifies women to even comment on a vital event in their motherhood such as giving birth.

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“The health system in Mexico is a system of power, we are talking about a system of power. With maternal health, this power system has deprived women of the opportunity to make decisions about their own childbirth. Instead, the midwifery model is a way of putting the woman at the center of this process and experiencing the birth as she wants ”, matiza Janet.

Can traditional midwifery medicine feed itself back? This question also arises today, above all because the issue of obstetric violence that is exercised against women in hospitals by the medical and nursing staff is beginning to be talked about and become more visible.

“I have known medical personnel who after having seen a midwife work, their opinion changes completely. When they give themselves the opportunity to see their work, they open themselves to the possibility of thinking about integrating it into their system ”, adds the director.

Another concern that generates Birth Wars in the viewer, it consists of knowing what role men play as partners of a pregnant woman in the process of childbirth, this after that male figure is part of the story. “When I began to see the tears of the men when they were with their partner, it was moving. That shows you that there can be more men joining in to achieve this special bond for women when giving birth ”, Janet points out.

The desire to be a mother in Mexico does not only imply getting excited about buying baby clothes and planning a future with your child. It also involves giving fair value to the fact of giving birth, an instant that can mark the woman for better or for worse in the later time based on the experience she has lived. For this reason, as Janet Jarman considers it, it is time to remove prejudice towards traditional midwifery.

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*Birth Wars is one of the titles selected to be exhibited in Cinema Planeta 13.

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