A Breech in the System - Review

“here we are alone in the process but not alone in our journeys.” – Karin Ecker 
I was so happy to be able to review A Breech in the System. It was a movie I had wanted to see for quite some time but hadn’t had the time to look into it. When I was given the opportunity to watch and review, I was beside myself. 
“Karin Ecker’s interest in social issues has brought her international credits for her filmmaking plus photographic art. From filming European children exploring environmental issues in the Bahamas to physically handicapped people scuba diving in the Egyptian Sea, she now brings her lens to the issue of childbirth choices in Australia. She intends to use this film as a tool to support the voice of ‘woman’.” – A Breech in the System
The movie is produced in such a way that you are given an up-close and intimate look at the process one woman encountered while trying to find support for her upcoming breech birth. 

Karin Ecker was 37 years old when she found herself pregnant. She decided to document her pregnancy and birth for her own private viewing. It wasn’t until 3 years after her baby was born that she decided to use the material for the documentary she titled “A Breech in the System”. 

Having recently relocated to Australia from Austria, Karin was looking forward to a birth center birth. When it was discovered her baby was sitting breech, the birth center would no longer allow her to give birth there. 
As she said later, while I was interviewing her for this review, “In my choice I always felt ALONE, because no one could make the decision for me. I was the one giving birth so I was the one who had to bear the consequences of my decision. It was a lonely process but very empowering one.”
Her words vividly remind me of one of my favorite African birthing proverbs:
"Being pregnant and giving birth are like crossing a narrow bridge. People can accompany you to the bridge. They can greet you on the other side. But you walk that bridge alone.”
Her story is humbling, inspiring, and educational. She brings us to her prenatal wellness classes, her medical appointments, and on many interviews with many professionals that ultimately either openly supported her or reinforced her understanding that she, alone, was responsible for this choice.
 “the doctor i talked to... it felt like.... was telling me what he had to tell me ‘no’  but after a while gave me a bit of space by suggesting that it might be ok. Like ‘the midwifes would love it if you give birth naturally’,  ‘we cannot force you’,  and ‘it probably will be all right’,  but ‘no, we will not support you to give birth naturally’. He was also not the one who makes the decision in the end. The guy who was above him in terms of power said just simply 'NO’. But after me clarifying that I would have to be a rebel on the day, that would be my only option, he agreed to that.”
As I mentioned earlier, we don’t only get an intimate look into her birthing time, but also become well acquainted with her day to day practices, the ins and outs, trials and triumphs. We watch her during her blessingway:
“Having support in any time of challenge especially an emotional one, is of highest value ever. I was able to relax and surrender with women, who not only understood the situation but empathized with me in such a gentle way, which made me not feel so alone and it felt like all of us women are in this together. Giving each other strength is something that women do in this circle. It has amazing power and carries all the way through to birth; linking us to each other and our mothers and our mother’s mothers. There is something very primal about that and something very, very profound; especially when you are able to openly share your fears and be heard and received.”
This sentiment sets the stage for, and ushers her into, her birthing time. She begins her labor on her due date, and, when ready, moves to the hospital. She narrates her fear of, and acceptance of, the fact she was moving into a less-than-supportive, and possibly even hostile, environment. With her midwife, doula-friend, and doctor, she steels her resolve. 

When I asked her what was going through her mind and body while she was laboring, this was her response:
“fear, fear, fear. pressure and pain. more pressure and more pain. fear and more fear. looking for reassurance in others. I thought I was going to die. It was very intense. The rest I have forgotten. It was great to have the women around me that had given birth to breech babies as well. They were my saving grace in my mind. If they can do it, I can do it .... maybe .... it was all open.”
The film is beautifully produced. The music and imagery is breathtaking, and the film at once inspiring and heart wrenching. Karin is an inspiration and a mother-warrior. She has perfectly illustrated for us the challenges and limitations of the medical community and policies that are in place. Her film can be used as a catalyst for discussion among women and change among the community of birth care providers.
“[my hope for this film is] to empower women to find their strength. To know what they want and how far they want to go. To take charge in order to then deal with… the consequences of one’s choice; to know about the options, and to embrace one's truth. To go deeper into oneself and not be afraid of being afraid. Not be afraid of pain, to be afraid but still go for it. to be open and embrace one's journey. That gives the doctors the signal that they can go the full way with a women. That makes them trust the woman more to let her have the natural way.” 
And where do we go from here? 
“[My hope for obstetrical change is that they will view breech] as a variation of normal, not to be afraid and to give space to the woman. I understand that a lot of doctors are scared and lack in skill. They should be honest about that. That creates a relationship of trust; and then go from there.... 
I am working with a few OBs to create a way where the relationship between the doctor and the woman gets highlighted. It is so crucial that the woman has someone, who she feels comfortable with and that it is an honest relationship.”

To support Karin, please check out her website and facebook page. Additionally, the film is available for screenings and the fee for that is negotiable.She encourages panel discussions afterwards with local doctors, doulas, midwives, and mothers. For more information on screenings, see here

She hopes to collect women's stories from around the world regarding breech birth. If you have had a breech baby and are willing to share your story, please contact her. 

To purchase the movie, you can see it online/as a download, or purchase it in DVD form. For another review see Rixa’s thoughts.

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