Pieces of a Woman – Commentary by Fadwah Halaby

Pieces-of-a-Woman-Commentary-on-Home-Birth-Fadwah-Halaby

On Friday this week, I had the privilege to watch this trending Netflix movie with Jen Kamel of VBACFacts and a few other birth workers. I enjoyed the movie as it invoked many emotions while watching this family unravel around the loss of their baby at a home birth. Pieces of a Woman.

I don’t typically pay attention to trending movies on Netflix, but my daughter – who is soon to graduate Medical School and enter her OB residency – alerted me to the movie with concern that it could harm my practice since it was a ‘home birth gone bad’.

At first I was worried as I thought the same thing, but after watching it, I don’t feel the same way. Yes, it depicts a scenario of a baby in trouble and ultimately dying that was born at home. It also is not very true to reality in regards to the amount of monitoring that we do at a home birth, so that part could be harmful as folks don’t know what we do and might assume that the amount of monitoring is just like the movie. But I also know that no amount of monitoring would have changed the outcome. And the outcome would have been the same if the baby had been born in the hospital. Bad outcomes happen in the hospital, but folks don’t typically say “if the parents hadn’t chosen to go to the hospital this never would have happened”. Yet they say that if there is a bad outcome at home without knowing the details of the case. The parents are blamed for their unconventional choice.

But this movie wasn’t a statement about home birth as unsafe. This movie was a poignant and powerful statement about the isolation and grief that parents suffer when faced with the loss of a baby. We watch the relationship between the couple completely break down as neither one is able to deal with their grief and it drives a wedge between them. We watch the mothers family grapple with their grief and their attempts to “do something” to obtain justice as some sort of compensation for their loss. We see relationships break down and we see relationships heal.

I recommend watching and hope that it highlights the need for more resources for postpartum people and families who are dealing with grief from birth trauma – which can happen even when there is no loss of life.