Born in the U.S.A. Video

Reviewed by Susan Hodges, President, Citizens for Midwifery

Professional documentary filmmakers Ken Schneider and Marcia Jarmel, who are home birth parents themselves, set out to make a film that would stimulate people to rethink their assumptions about childbirth in the US, and in my opinion, they have achieved this goal.

The film includes a home birth practice with a licensed midwife near Seattle, women birthing with CNMs in a freestanding birth center in The Bronx, and labors and births with a female obgyn in a big teaching hospital in Philadelphia. In addition, the women, their families, and the midwives, obgyn and other staff all comment about "what's happening," their experiences, their practices, and related matters. The film is not divided into segments by setting; rather the viewer "travels" among the three settings several times in the course of the film.

"This is the best film on birth in America that I have seen, showing all sides, achieving true balance, and empowering women and families."
     Marsden Wagner, former Director of Maternal and Child Health, WHO

Because the film shows all the settings and care providers, not just midwife-attended home birth, it presents both what is familiar to mainstream America (doctor-managed hospital birth) as well as the less familiar midwifery settings, with equal "weight" given to each. The genius of the film is in the details; the atmosphere, assumptions, and attitudes are markedly different in the different settings and the juxtapositions enhance the contrasts.

"Born in the USA" is a valuable addition to the birth videos now available. Oriented toward the general public rather than specifically toward pregnant women and families, the video is particularly suited for community and organization program meetings and for high school and university classes (especially women's studies, family and child development, women's health, etc.), while also very appropriate for childbirth education classes. The film can be used in any context where you wish to raise peoples' consciousness about childbirth practices.

I have shown this film to several groups, including a Women's Studies student organization at the local university. I encouraged people to pay attention to body language, touch, how people interacted, and the actual words people used with each other. The film generated lots of discussion and stimulated the viewers to observe and to think about what they saw.

As of 2008, to find more information, to order a DVD, and to access free downloadable guides, go to

Born in the U.S.A.
Video: 56 min