Student-produced film a labour of love for learning

Trailer for "A Mother Is Born," an educational documentary created by three UAlberta medical students

(Edmonton) Three medical students at the University of Alberta felt so passionately about helping their fellow students understand birthing options that they gave up their spare time and holidays to produce an educational documentary.

“We spent over 100 hours a week for a good five months on this project,” said Bailey Adams, third-year medical student and one of the producers. “We gave up our summers.”

The film, called A Mother Is Born, was shot and produced by Adams, her classmate Katie Stringer and second-year student Danielle Lewis. The 60-minute video explores women’s options for childbirth, from in-hospital to midwifery and doulas. The idea came from Lewis, who had midwifery care in British Columbia and then received transfer care to an obstetrician for a complication. She wanted to know more about the partnership, and Adams and Stringer agreed the education would be useful.

The short film was recently shown to second-year students and was well received as the faculty sees value in the context of interprofessional education.

“It was worth our efforts,” said Adams. “We’ve had a really great response from students and faculty and it’s very rewarding.

“The three of us learned so much from the experts we interviewed, it’s unfortunate we can’t make a 20-hour video.”

“The film offers a very relevant and useful resource for teaching medical students and other health-professional students about options that are available to women in relation to birth,” said Tracey Hillier, assistant dean of undergraduate medical education. “The film provides an opportunity to learn about the many care providers who are often involved—such as obstetricians, family doctors, midwives and doulas—along with their perspectives on the experience of birth as a normal and natural aspect of life.”

A faculty member who watched the movie suggested the producers submit it to the Toronto Film Festival. This has become their new goal, but they will need to raise funds for the cost of entry.

The filmmakers are now preparing to host a public premiere of the movie Nov. 23. The trio hopes it can be a night out for moms; they’ve got entertainment, light snacks, a cash bar and a silent auction to go along with the movie.

They also want the public showing to be a strong educational experience for any future parents.

“We had one student who sent us an email after they saw it in class, saying, ‘After reproduction block I was very scared about my ability to give birth and it seemed like a frightening and intimidating process, and now I feel more comfortable after listening to the testimonials from some of the women in the film.’”

“I am very proud of the students for taking on this role in relation to patient advocacy, and also working to promote interprofessional collaboration,” said Hillier.

Find out more about the Nov. 23 premiere