This past summer, three medical students from the University of Alberta (U of A) came together to create an educational initiative called Birthing Babies Together. Danielle Lewis, Katie Stringer and Bailey Adams, have produced a film documentary about what it means to provide woman-centered maternity care in a system that offers choice for birthing families.
The film takes a unique perspective as Lewis and Stringer are both mothers and current learners. It was their contrasting maternity care experiences, Lewis with midwifery care and Stringer with a family physician, that spurred their desire to create this documentary. Initially, the project explored the roles of physicians and allied healthcare professionals providing maternity care with a focus on collaboration. However, as filming began it became clear that the scope of the initiative was expanding both in nature and audience. With support and encouragement from the maternal health community, the team traveled to British Columbia and throughout Alberta to learn from the leaders in the field. Interviewees include obstetricians, family doctors, midwives, doulas, registered nurses, neonatologists, maternity health researchers and families. They had the opportunity to take a detailed look into the world of normal childbirth and the many facets of maternal health and neonatal care.
As the practice of medicine is continually evolving and innovative research guides us, this film is a creative opportunity to provide supplemental learning to medical students. With the continued support of the Undergraduate Medical Education Department at the U of A, the team is working to have the film incorporated in the curriculum. They would like to see the film distributed to medical schools across Canada so that it can be seen by our future health care innovators. Lewis, Stringer and Adams hope the film will inspire future physicians to believe in supporting women’s choices as well as to inform their patients using quality, current maternity research. Lewis and Stringer impart the view that “birth in most cases is a physiological event and should be a celebrated milestone in a woman’s life.”