Yesterday, Saturday 11th November 2017, I had a last minute opportunity to view the film “In Utero” that was screened as a fundraiser for Belmont Birthing Service, the Australian Breastfeeding Association and Hunter Positive Birth. First of all, may I clearly state that I have no connection to this film, financially or personally.
The following views reflect a topic that I care passionately about and so I just wanted to share my thoughts.
“I came away with a sense of how important prenatal care and education, by a professionally qualified CAPEA Practitioner, is not just for the mother and her baby but also, ultimately for humanity as a whole.” Penny Williams
Written by Kathleen Man Gyllenhaal and produced by Stephen Gyllenhaal and Mathew Brady the In Utero film brings to attention the prenatal period of human development. The film talks about what happens to the baby through the mother in the womb, the implications for the baby and that babies offspring physically, mentally and emotionally.
This film is a minefield!
I was concerned for some of the pregnant women in the audience as the film was very confronting at times. I considered the potential of further burden upon them in the same way that the film already points out – can cause so much damage!
I felt that there almost needs to be a second film, say “In Utero 2”, that could present a more balanced view of the power of prenatal bonding, how it could be enhanced during pregnancy and the early years of life. There is so much data available that could have helped this film to be more balanced with the information that was presented, about the power of bonding, attachment and the profound inner drive of life to explore connect to find meaning and purpose.
There are so many prenatal programmes that address this in particularly elegant ways and that coupled with the fact there is so much neuro- placidity of the brain particularly in the prenatal period gives us much more reason to hope. This was an opportunity that was sadly lost in the film. But maybe this wasn’t what the film’s producers wished for. The film is media and it’s intent is for media.
The film starts with information and data that was collected from the Dutch famine in 1945, in which babies born to mothers who survived the famine had a much higher instance for developing health complications later in life, particularly hypertension and diabetes than the regular population.
Even though our modern world stressors take different forms to that of war and famine, the film links stress with ADHD and Autism. The film talks about epigenetics, which is a process that happens on top of the DNA coding. It refers to other factors that fine tune the genetic material and have the ability to turn genetic expression on and off. Meaning that even though you have a gene for a certain characteristic, it may or may not manifest, depending upon environmental and external factors.
To me the film brought home the importance of quality prenatal education and care. This is a time when and where a woman needs to find “her tribe.” This is way too big for any one mother to be expected to manage. Emotional states are not just abstract entities. For they produce physical changes that have the potential to affect us not just for our lifetime but also for the generations that come after.
The film gives you a real sense of how important pregnancy is and should be shown to the policy makers in boardrooms, parliaments, midwives, obstetricians, parenting educators and anyone who works with pregnant and birthing women.
In conclusion this was a worthwhile film for me to see and I am glad I made the effort. I would however have some reservations about showing the In Utero film to some pregnant women particularly those who are living in vulnerable circumstances. The target audience for this film would ideally be the policy makers, couples planning a pregnancy and for those who are wishing to make sense of some of the difficulties that they are experiencing during their transition to parenthood journey.