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Document ID:LIB2011-006
Document Type:Thesis
Author:Nicolle Littrell
E-mail Address:
URN:
Title:At Home in Maine: A Documentary Film Series and Web Resource about Maine's Homebirth and Midwifery Community
Degree:M.A.
Department:Liberal Studies
Committee Chair:Laura Lindenfeld, Associate Professor of Communication & Journalism and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center
Chair's E-mail:
Committee Members:Mazie Hough, Associate Director of Women's Studies ; Bill Kuykendall, Associate Professor of New Media ; Kristin Langellier, Professor of Communication and Journalism
Subjects:
Date of Defense:2011
Availability:

Abstract

Childbirth is a contested site of public, professional and academic debate and discourse. This begins with a woman's body and her right to choose to give birth. Once a woman has chosen to give birth, the focus of the debate shifts to her baby, the practitioner attending the birth, that is, the doctor or midwife—or the choice to have an unassisted birth-and the actual location of the birth. "At Home in Maine [AHIM]" is a documentary film series and web resource that addresses an underrepresented area of discourse about Maine: contemporary homebirth and midwifery culture. Homebirth and midwifery care are often historicized in scholarly discourses, as seen in "A Midwife's Tale (Ulrich, 1991)," concerning the life and career of 18th century midwife Martha Moore Ballard. Homebirth has also been marginalized in the mainstream, though that may be changing with the recent release of a CDC report stating that in the United States, homebirth is on the rise (McDorman, Declercq and Matthews, 2011). Homebirth and midwifery care is also an underrepresented area in feminist discourse. AHIM frames this subject as part of the domain of choices in childbirth, and therefore, should be a significant area of feminist inquiry. Through the visual record and the genre of documentary film, AHIM shows that homebirth—and normal, natural, childbirth—happens. With the online distribution format, the project provides an accessible informational and educational resource for women and their partners regarding choices in childbirth. Central research questions of this project are: What does homebirth in Maine look like? Who are the people, and what are the practices, philosophies and politics that constitute Maine's homebirth culture? How is this domain significant for women--and an important area of inquiry for feminist discourse? Over the course of four years, using community-based feminist models, this investigator documented eight homebirths, representing seven different families, five different midwifery practices, six towns and five regions in Maine, as well as recorded other pertinent events in the homebirth community. Timing makes this project especially distinctive with the investigator's documentation of a group of Maine midwives' pursuit of title licensure in 2008. The bill for licensure did not pass; however, an unprecedented new law, "Chapter 669" was enacted, which decriminalized Certified Professional Midwives' [CPMs] use of a short list of medications at birth. The results of the AHIM project are a film series of ten authentic portraits of homebirth in Maine and a website, which provides an online distribution platform for the films: In concept, output and distribution this project is one-of-a-kind. As of this publication, there are no other known discourses on Maine's contemporary homebirth and midwifery culture, nor are there any media products such as AHIM: an online film series about homebirth and midwifery care.


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Littrell, Nicolle, University of Maine, LIB2011-006

 

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