Mothers and Babies: Creating Lesbian Families: a video by Ami Burns.
As with many minority groups, the stories and lives of lesbians are underrepresented in our society. Especially in the field of birth, where assumptions of heterosexuality are often made because of good or biology, the experiences of lesbian mothers are often misunderstood or invisible to the mainstream eye. The video, Mothers and Babies, Lesbians Creating Families, does a wonderful job of portraying experiences of lesbian women as mothers and highlights the range of joys, concerns, highs, and lows that all new parents experience in the amazing rite of passage birth entails. The video points out the similarities that lesbian mothers share with all new parents, but doesn't back away from discussing the unique issues that arise while starting a new family with two moms.
The video interviews several lesbian couples about their experience of deciding to and becoming pregnant, giving birth, and becoming mothers. All of the women interviewed are coupled and in committed relationships, but that is where most of the similarities end. Some women say they always knew that they would become mothers, others struggled with how they would have children after they came out, and others only felt the desire to become a mother later in life. Some chose to have anonymous sperm donors, others chose a close friend to donate sperm; some enjoyed pregnancy, others were cranky and sick. The bottom line is that each individual couple interviewed had a unique story and highlighted their own individual choices about what was right for them.
The video also did a wonderful job at revealing the particular challenges that lesbian mothers face. The women discussed a range of issues that complicated their experiences. For example, many couples discussed how they dealt with the invisibility of the non-birth mother as people shower praise on her pregnant partner but fail to recognize her as the other parent. Legalities such as getting maternity leave for the people shower praise on her pregnant partner, but fail to recognize her as the other parent. Legalities such as getting maternity leave for the non-birth mother and the recognition of the partner in hospital settings or by care-givers is often an extra concern and issue in the lives of lesbian mothers. On the other hand, one women shared how having a child really helped her find strength to come out because the joy of sharing the news of her new family overshadowed the fear of coming out and the complications that sometimes arise from being out.
What the video is not is a play-by-play of the births. Though birth is covered, the birth stories serve the greater purpose of being a part of the whole story of becoming mothers. It does a great job at representing a range of birth experiences, from doula-assisted natural births with a midwife, to births with epidurals, to a cesarean birth for twins. The stories are representative of the variety of choices and ways to give birth. It seems to quietly advocate for doulas, since the women interviewed speak so highly of the doulas they worked with at their births. The video does a great job of covering the whole childbearing year, from prenatal through postpartum and doesn't shy away from talking about the reality and difficulties of new motherhood. It is an honest and realistic view.
The essence of this video is that lesbian mothers have experiences, concerns, fears, and issues that are unique to their particular situations, but that families are families and love is love. The couples interviewed share their voices and experiences, and you hear who they are and what it is like for them to become mothers. It also provides valuable information on resources and emphasizes support. If you work with birth, see this video. If you are a lesbian mother, tell your story. No matter who you are, help the stories of all kinds of families be heard all over the world to debunk myths and stereotypes and to embrace love. I recommend watching this video and sharing it with others.
Mothers and Babies: Creating Lesbian Families, which is 54 minutes long, can be purchased from Birth Talk Productions, LLC by calling (312) 363-8332 or visiting www.birthtalkproductions.com. Cost is $295 for professional use and $59.95 for individual use.
Reviewed by Gina Forbes
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|Article Type:||Video recording review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2006|
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