In movies, birth is usually an emergency. It starts with breaking a woman’s water at the worst possible time. She seems to be barely giving birth, but she is rushed to hospital. There she is angry and the pain is her husband’s fault. He yells at her, maybe even hurts her, orders a vasectomy. Then he asks for an epidural, but for some reason he can not have. After four minutes of loud shouting, he handed over something resembling a Gerber baby.
Netflix’s latest film, Pieces of Pieces, starring Vanessa Kirby as an Oscar nominee, tries to distort this story with a natural home-birth scene that spans almost a quarter of the film. The extended sequence, which ultimately has tragic consequences, has forced midwives to speak out, especially since film and television can have a profound effect on the expectations of couples who have never had a child. In several interviews, midwives across the country hailed the birth of naturalism as a new frontier in screen imagery, even when they claimed that a few details lacked fully authorized experience.
As soon as the abortion scene begins, Martha (Kirby) leans against the stove, her contractions intensifying. His partner, Shawn, played by Shia Labeuf, rushes around him, repeatedly asking if he wants water. They eventually move to the living room, where he swings her in the crib. “I think I can jump down,” he says, kneeling and frowning.
Hannah Epstein, a midwife and nurse in San Francisco, said that what impressed her about the scene was what many other films left behind. “You never see childbirth, only birth.” She said some patients worry that they may not know when they are giving birth, while others think the birth is completely pushing. “Woman Pieces” helped correct those misconceptions. “It was a good early talented idea of that awkward, mischievous feeling,” she said, noting that nausea and vomiting during childbirth are also very common.