At Home in Maine in Today’s Bangor Daily News!

Friday, April 8, 2011

BELFAST, Maine — When mom and filmmaker Nicolle Littrell was pregnant with her first child, a friend asked if she and her partner were considering having the baby at home.

Their reply was instantaneous — and negative, Littrell said Thursday.

“We said, ‘No!” she recalled, adding that part of the reason was their insurance did not cover home births.

But as she thought about it, she realized it wasn’t the whole story.

“My first reaction was financial, and then it was definitely more than that,” she said. “It was the not knowing, and the fear, that gets embedded in each of us at an early age.”

Littrell began researching midwifery and home births, ultimately deciding that delivering Leo, now 6, at home was the right choice.

He was born in a tub, in an experience that was empowering and comfortable, with the help of midwives who were respectful and knowledgeable. It was very unlike the standard Hollywood depictions of births, Littrell said.

And afterward, she found she still had more to learn, and teach, about the growing group of people choosing to have their babies at home.

“I feel like there’s a relationship between how we give birth and how we live,” she said.

Littrell has spent the past few years using her camera, her heart and her filmmaker’s eye to document and help educate about home birthing in Maine.

“It’s a gift. I’m definitely the luckiest person in the world, to be at these births,” the filmmaker said. “It’s absolutely sacred, to see women so powerful and beautiful. And there’s magic, too, when the baby is coming out. When that baby is born, I cry every time.”

Originally, she had envisioned making a conventional documentary film about the subject, but as she dug deeper, she realized that one film wouldn’t be enough. So far, Littrell has produced several short films about home birth as part of her “At Home in Maine” series and started a website as an educational and community-building resource.

The latest documentary, titled “At Home in Waldo,” will have its first Waldo County screening at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at the Belfast Free Library.

During the filming, Littrell spent 20 hours with Melinda and Jerry Weaver of Waldo as their son, Gideon, was born a year ago.

After the documentary is shown, the participants — including the Weavers and their midwives from Morningstar Midwifery in Belfast — will join Littrell for a discussion.

Melinda Weaver, who was 42 when Gideon was born, said she and her husband were glad to take part in the documentary project.

“When Nicolle stated her purpose, I said ‘Yeah, of course,’” Weaver said Thursday. “Anything to have more people be comfortable with the decision to have a home birth.”

Littrell met and interviewed the family often before her labor began, Weaver said, so that everyone was comfortable with having her present for the birth.

“The day of the birth, other than noticing that you had a friend there, you didn’t notice the camera,” Weaver said. “You watch the birth.”

More and more families like the Weavers have chosen to take births out of the hospital over the past few decades, beginning with the back-to-the-land movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to the filmmaker. “American homebirth midwifery was pretty much stamped out in the early 1900s,” Littrell said. “Home birth and midwives re-emerged in a grassroots, teach-each-other, positive way.”

That journey has been at times political and controversial. Over the decades, midwives nationally developed the certified professional midwife credential. But in 2008, a Maine proposal to license “lay” midwives was derailed by lawmakers, who instead voted to authorize them to purchase, possess and administer a short list of prescription drugs often needed during a home birth.

“To me, midwives are the most incredible heroines, and it’s a tremendous amount of responsibility,” Littrell said.

She said she hopes a lot of people will use her website as a resource, including — but not limited to — people who are exploring birth options.

“This is about birth. It’s not just for people who want to have babies,” Littrell said. “How we are born is important. Birth matters.”

“At Home in Waldo” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, at the Belfast Free Library.

For more information, visit www.mainehomebirth.wordpress.com

At Home in Waldo, Maine Screening at Belfast Free Library Tuesday, April 12

BELFAST, MAINE  “At Home in Waldo, Maine” will screen on filmmaker Nicolle Littrell’s home turf, at the Belfast Free Library, Tuesday, April 12th, 6:30-8pm.  The film is one of the recent releases from the “At Home in Maine” film series, which focuses on homebirth and professional midwifery care in Maine.

“At Home in Waldo, Maine” features the Weavers, a family from Waldo who are semi-homesteaders, homeschoolers, entrepreneurs and rock’n’rollers!  Integrating footage from the Weaver’s day-to-day life with their home birth, “At Home in Waldo, Maine” explores the relationship between how we live and how we birth.  The film includes a single performed by Jerry Weaver’s band, Odlaw.

The film also features Morningstar Midwifery (morningstarmidwifery.com/) a professional midwifery practice located in Belfast. Discussion with the filmmaker, film participants and refreshments will follow the screening.

For more information about “At Home in Maine” visit: www.mainehomebirth.wordpress.com.

This program is free and open to the public. For more information call 338-3884 ext 10.

At Home in Maine at Women’s Health Fair at U Maine

Several short films from At Home in Maine will be screened as part of U Maine’s Women’s Health Fair this Wednesday, March 23rd in the Memorial Student Union.  For a campus map, click here.

The event focuses on what’s new and happening in Women’s Health and is sponsored by U Maine’s President’s Council on Women.

 

Maternal Wellness and Choices in Childbirth will be nicely represented at this event.  Filmmaker and U Maine graduate student Nicolle Littrell will be on hand to share info about At Home in Maine and screen several of the films from the series.   Andrea Mietkiewicz, Old Town-based Certified Professional Midwife and RN will share info about homebirth midwifery care and homeopathy.  Heather Bowman and Gina Forbes, both Certified Doulas (based in Orono and Belfast, respectively) will provide info about doula care, doula training and natural childbirth education.

Free samples, yummy treats, massages and oh yes, lots of information await those participating in this event!

Hope to see you there!  Please spread the word…

At Home in Maine Film Screening at U Maine Next Wednesday, March 16th!!

Hey Friends and Subscribers of At Home in Maine!  Please share this link with your friends/fans to help promote this event.

At Home in Maine at U Maine for Women’s History Month

Looking to drum up some major interest in this event–and with this, attention on and support for Women’s Reproductive Health Choices and Choices in Childbirth.

With the recent (and ongoing) political onslaught on Women’s Reproductive Health Choices, we need more support than ever in this area–and for Women’s Studies Programs in Higher Education.  Please share away!!!  Thank you!!  Hope to see you on the 16th!!

Full Moon/New Film: At Home in Waldo, Maine

January 19, 2011. To celebrate today’s full moon, Woman in the Moon films is releasing a brand new homebirth film:  At Home in Waldo (click link to view film), as part of the At Home in Maine film series and web project.

At Home in Waldo presents the homebirth experience of the Weavers–Melinda, Jerry, Ravi and Gideon–a family living in midcoast Maine.  The film observes Melinda’s approaching delivery in context of the Weaver’s daily activities and documents the pre-natal planning and support the family receives from their professional midwives.

The Weavers are (semi) homesteaders, home/internet-based entrepreneurs, homeschoolers–and rock and rollers!  This 46-minute film is both an intimate document of their experience and an exploration into the relationship between how we live and how we birth.

The Weavers were assisted by Morningstar Midwifery, located in Belfast, Maine.  This film is signficant in that it features a long (but gorgeous) labor and birth with an “older” mama; Melinda was 42 at the time she gave birth to Gideon.  The film shows how professional midwives address such labors. 

I mentioned that the Weavers were rock and rollers–they have a band called Odlaw.  One of their songs, “Learn to Love”–from their new album “Odlaw 1”–is featured in this film. To hear more of Odlaw’s music visit:  www.odlaw.org

You can also visit the Weavers online store, which features art, antiques and collectibles at: www.rubylane.com/shop/kingsburyfarm

Please take some time to check out this new film–and offer feedback!  It runs about 46 minutes long.

Many thanks to the Weavers, Morningstar Midwifery and Teri Gallo for their ongoing participation in and support of this project.