Mama and the Media Part 2: What to Watch During Pregnancy

In this series of posts, we’ll take a look at one of the most powerful influences on your life as a parent–the media.  I’ll give you my doula/childbirth educator/mama scoop on what’s most likely to build your confidence and what’s just going to freak you out!

Saturday night date night has most likely taken on a new form during pregnancy.  Skip the trip to the theater and watch these great birth flicks in the comfort of your own home, where it’s totally acceptable to wear those super stretchy and oh-so-comfy pajama pants and the kicks you feel aren’t on the back of your seat, but from that tiny little guy or gal in your belly!

Orgasmic Birth – Yes, you read that right!  We’re talking orgasms and birth, together in the same movie. While the title may raise an eyebrow or two, this film is absolutely my favorite to show the amazing strength, power, and inner wisdom that each and every woman possesses.  It’s not a “how-to-have-an-orgasm-during-birth” guide, but rather honest, straightforward information about the physiology and hormones of pregnancy and birth, the mind-body connection, and some incredible birth footage (yes, there is a little orgasm in there too.) This film is also available in a condensed form, Organic Birth.

Birth As We Know It Another favorite that really gets to the heart of pregnancy and birth, this one gives you an inspiring look into the world of birth. Though much of the footage takes place in Russia (including AMAZING water births in the Black Sea) the message is universal:  birth is normal and women are strong, intuitive beings.  I showed this DVD to my husband shortly after I began working as a doula and he was amazed. I believe his exact quote was, “Wow, that kind of makes me realize how insignificant my job is.” (He works in sales, which doesn’t usually involve world-altering, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.)  This film also has a shorter version, Birth Into Being.

The Business of Being Born – This eye-opening documentary definitely paved the way for the influx of birth films in the past several years and for good reason!  Former talk show host Ricki Lake takes you through an in-depth look at birth practices of the past and present.  For many, the information may be shocking, but my hope is that it will inspire you to make informed decisions, ask questions, and find the provider that you feel will help you to have the birth experience you want.

Birth Day (the DVD, not the TV show) — If you want a film to remind you that birth can be a calm, tender, moving experience, this is it. Birth Day takes you into the home of Naoli Lopez for the birth of her third child.  This is a great one for every expectant family, especially for those looking for a video to share with children who may be at the birth. Even though this one is 100% homebirth, I think it’s a powerful reminder that great birth can happen anywhere.

Laboring Under An Illusion: Mass Media Childbirth vs. The Real Thing – If my past self (who has a journalism degree with an advertising emphasis) and my present self (birth junkie in every way, shape, and form) had a baby together, it would be this documentary.  You see birth from the mass media point of view, which undoubtedly shapes a woman’s perception and confidence in the birthing process from a young age, and then see real birth, something few of us ever actually witness. This one is totally a must see!

Lamaze Six Healthy Birth Practices — Lamaze offers free, online informational videos that illustrate real women demonstrating each of the six healthy birth practices. Each video is less than 4 minutes long and provides simple, useful tips to keep birth safe and healthy.


My final plug for confidence-building:  do not, I repeat DO NOT subject yourself to any of the “birth” shows on television. This includes “A Baby Story,” “Bringing Baby Home,” “Deliver Me,” “Birth Day,” “One Born Every Minute,” or any other crazy show that you may find.  They are likely to instill fear and confusion, often depicting a highly medicalized, worse-case scenario image of birth.  There is very little that is real about those reality shows, so please stay away.

Now it’s time to pop that popcorn and get watching, mamas!

Avatar of Liz AbbeneAbout Liz Abbene
Liz is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and birth doula certified through DONA, and the founder of Enlightened Mama. Liz absolutely loves sharing in the experiences with those embarking on this incredible journey into parenthood, and she believes that knowledge is the key to a positive experience during pregnancy, birth, and parenting. She and her husband, Chris, are the proud parents of three vivacious children, with number four expected in early 2011. Learn more about Liz at


  1. Sonya French says:

    Thank you for providing a list of videos to watch that will increase women’s confidence in giving birth. I spent my first pregnancy watching all of the “don’ts” that you listed and all they did was completely freak me out. I wised up for my second and watched most of the others that you listed and my, oh my, the difference! I also read birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s book “Spiritual Midwifery,” which were so helpful and encouraging. I haven’t seen “Laboring Under An Illusion,” but will find it and watch it as soon as possible. Thanks!

  2. I’m so glad to see this list! The media’s constant misrepresentation of pregnancy and birth does more damage in our collective consciousness than most people stop to even ponder. Having positive images of pregnancy and birth to “deprogram” the expectant woman’s mind is crucial! Laboring Under an Illusion does a fantastic job of delineating this very problem. As one viewer of the film professed, “I want everybody over the age of twelve to see this film.”

  3. Laura says:

    I am pleased to see three of the DVDs on your list that I lent to my son and DIL.
    Even though I have watched these birth films “more than once”, they are still a go-to for an evening of inspiration.

  4. Sarah says:

    I also found Pregnancy in America to promote natural childbirth. (It’s another one available on Netflix streaming!)


  1. [...] truth of how positive birth can be.  The birth stories that television and movies tell you?  With few exceptions, they are sensationalist and inaccurate, crafted to boost ratings but not your confidence in your [...]

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