July 28, 2020
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - Movie Wonders: Adding Some Sass to Your Class
By: Stacie Bingham, LCCE, CD(DONA), CBS(LER) | 0 Comments
July's Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators comes from the remarkable Stacie Bingham. A long time contributor and one of the most creative educators I know, Stacie is never short on ideas to make birth classes pop! Today, Stacie shares her favorite movie clips, carefully selected to reinforce a teaching moment in her perinatal classes. This idea makes the transition from in person to virtual without missing a beat, so no matter how you are delivering your information these days, Stacie's activity will be a hit. You can find all the Connecting the Dots: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators here, if you are looking for an idea or two, be sure to check them all out! - Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Connecting the Dots
With so many perinatal classes being moved online due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, I have found one rousing tool that makes classes especially engaging: Using video clips from movies to enhance the tedium that can sometimes be associated with distance/online learning. Hollywood movies during class are unusual, and we know learners pay attention to things that are different. Movies can make us laugh or cry, and endorphins show up when we have expressions of emotion. Movies can be nostalgic – and guess what? We know feelings of nostalgia actually help build our mental toughness by providing a boost when we face difficult situations.
Since the goal of our classes is to share information that families will be applying days, weeks, or even months in the future, making things memorable should be one of your top priorities. Here is a handful of some of my favorites – adjust them as needed to make them work for you!
Film: Emperor’s New Groove
The Scene: Pacha and Kuzko are about to cross a bridge. Their relationship up until now has been tense. Pacha falls through the bridge and Kuzco laughs. Then Kuzco falls through. Once Pacha makes sure Kuzco is safe, he starts a fight. They fall further down where snapping alligators wait. Working together, they get out of the ravine and back safely onto land.
Set-up: I cue the clip to 7 seconds (on the YouTube version below) and pause it. This is a long view of distant mountains, the bridge, and the land on either side of the bridge. Pacha is on the bridge, Kuzco is not.
Breakdown: The uterus is a muscle, and the muscle fibers work two different ways. For most of first stage, the uterus contracts to help thin and open the cervix – I like to think of this as the thin, stretching Kuzco. As second stage approaches, the uterus begins to exert force to help push the baby out – I think strong and sturdy Pacha represents this well.
With the clip paused, I share how the bridge represents transition – it connects first stage to second stage. I start the clip again and Pacha falls. He and Kuzco have words, and then Kuzco falls. They begin fighting -- this is like the overlapping feelings of the contractions, which are doing their best to open the cervix that last little bit, and the beginning sensations of wanting to push. They fall out of the ropes and are stuck at the bottom of the ravine. Working together, they make it about halfway up when the width of the ravine stops their movement. Pacha sees a rope and tells Kuzco to stretch his neck so Pacha can use his strength to grab and hold the rope. This works, but scorpions, smashing against the ravine, Kuzco getting his snout stuck in a cliff hole, and bats offer many obstacles in a short period of time, much like the urgent, intense feelings that occur during transition. Ultimately the bats lift them back to safe ground. Just when they think their troubles are over, the cliff wall collapses and Pacha starts to fall. Kuzco is able to save him, then he does a little victory dance. Pacha and Kuzco must work together, just like the muscles in the uterus, to move labor forward. On a practical note, they end up back on the original side of the bridge – people may notice this or not. I stop the clip at 2:31 (on the part 2 shared below).
Logistics: If you own this movie, you could cue up the scene to share. Disney+ is another option. You can find it on YouTube, and remember, videos aren’t always there legally, so if you see it today, it may not be there tomorrow. While clips from movie studios are the best, you can’t always find these. The easiest way I share this is via YouTube under “The Emperor's New Groove Stuck in the Ravine part 1 HD,” uploaded by Robbie Marie Vandell The Disney Movie Lover the 2nd; they have part 1 and part 2, and you need both parts for this scene.
Film: French Kiss
Topic: Examining Pain
The Scene: Kate and Luc are at Luc’s childhood home. Luc asks Kate to describe the wine she is drinking. After she gives a generic review, he has her try again. This time she works hard to use her senses and seek out what is in the wine and how she is experiencing it.
Set-up: I show this clip when we are learning about pain and comfort measures. We watch it, and then we have a discussion examining pain. Talking points can be taken from the explanations below. The video is short, so it is possible to watch it once more after the discussion.
Breakdown: Many of us don’t like to use the “p” word – pain. To me, pain is the combination of all the feelings and sensations and emotions we experience during birth. If you put them all in a bucket, you can lift the bucket and say, “This is pain.” But what happens if you pull things out of the bucket to see where each sensation is coming from? There is a Cuban proverb which states: “Listening looks easy, but it's not simple. Every head is a world.” Whether these heads are actual people, or whether they are our own thoughts and fears, too many swirling ideas and voices can muddle a message.
Kate gives an almost flippant, rehearsed answer when asked to describe her wine. We do this and see this constantly when it comes to birth – it hurts! It’s terrible! You better get the epidural! Luc challenges her to look deeper and examine the wine more thoroughly. We can do this with pain! Clear your mind and listen. Break down what you are actually feeling. Stretching? Pulling? Pressure? Does this feel similar to having a muscle cramp? Are you scared your mother is not going to make it? Is the doctor on-call not your favorite? Are you hungry? Cold? Tired? When these sensations and feelings are being experienced at the same time, that makes up pain -- and pain can be scary. When we relate feelings to what we already know about ourselves, or what we have felt before, or things we know are a normal part of having a baby, we can name them and work to resolve them.
Logistics: This clip can be found on YouTube under “Meg Ryan & Kevin Kline Diversity,” shared by Echo Rose.
Film: Mission Impossible II
Topic: Iatrogenic Effects
The Scene: Nyah is driving a sports car on a winding, mountain road. Ethan Hunt comes up from behind and tries to get her to pull over. She refuses, and a car pursuit begins. After a few dangerous near-misses with each other and other cars, they both spin-out, and Nyah’s car ends up hanging off the cliff. Ethan rushes to her aid and rescues her.
Set-up: This is a clip I play in its entirety with a simple, “We are going to watch a movie.” Afterwards I bring up the topic and we explore.
Breakdown: An iatrogenic effect is basically a caregiver-caused complication. These can be common during birth as our society sees interventions to be normal, expected, and helpful. Interventions come with risks, and while we may be made aware of these risks, rarely are we made aware of iatrogenic effects. Instead, we walk away thinking something went wrong with us, and our care team was there to fix it. Otherwise it would be commonplace for care providers to share, “Actually, that scary thing that happened is probably because of the unneeded intervention we asked you to consent to.”
Nyah is just minding her own business, enjoying a Sunday drive. Suddenly she gets a phone call, which she answers. Ethan asks her to slow down, so she looks around to see who might be calling her. Ethan’s car pops onto the scene right behind her, and they continue to talk. Nyah hangs up on him, and he calls her back. When she refuses to answer, he takes the opportunity to pull up alongside her and continue the conversation. They talk-shout to each other, driving side by side, and she discovers he is a spy. In the meantime, all of this is distracted driving! Tired of the conversation, Nyah pulls ahead and invites Ethan to catch her if he can. Rounding a few turns, passing a few cars, Ethan pulls up next to her again to chat. More dangerous driving, some side-smashing into each other, darting around cars that have the right-of way, and suddenly Nyah spins out (in requisite slow motion) and is left clinging to her open door, dangling over a cliff. Ethan wastes no time jumping into her car and pulling her to safety by one arm. She straddles him in the driver’s seat (Hello! How about you get yourselves out of the car!), and suddenly she is on his team, because he just saved her life. I stop the clip before they begin kissing.
Logistics: YouTube clip under the name “Mission Impossible 2 – Car chase,” uploaded by DB Film Scenes.
The Scene: Vincent and Irene have just spent the night together. Vincent sees a piece of his hair on the pillow. He realizes he needs to remove any of his DNA that he shed. He heads to the beach, using sand to scrub from head to toe.
Set-up: Before watching this clip, I share with families that babies are born with meconium already on-board, and that it is different from the “poop” they will have from milk and eventually food. Then we come back to talk about what is in meconium.
Breakdown: Vincent is impersonating a man – in his life he is pretending to be someone else. He and Irene met at work. After a while they go on a date and end up back at Irene’s place (where the clip picks up). Vincent wakes up and spots a single piece of hair on the pillow he used. Not accustomed to sleeping away from home, he realizes his morning routine needs to be altered. At home, he would scrub himself clean in an incinerator-type shower, burning any remaining DNA which might be left. Forced to be creative, he walks to the beach and scrubs himself with sand, rinsing off in the ocean.
Babies do not eat like we do (through the mouth, into the stomach, out the anus); they get what they need through blood via the umbilical cord. So where does that meconium come from? Vincent is scrubbing away anything that might shed from his body. Unborn babies shed as well. Meconium is made of skin cells, lanugo (hair), cells from the lining of the intestines, mucus, and amniotic fluid.
Logistics: This is one of my favorite movies. This scene is short and sweet, and it can be found on Youtube: “Gattaca (6/8) Movie CLIP – Vincent & Irene (1997) HD”. It is shared by Movieclips, which looks to be a subsidiary of Fandango. If you use this clip, jump ahead to 50 seconds in order to skip the kissing scene.
Film: Open Season
The Scene: Boog and Elliot are venturing through the forest when Boog suddenly needs to have a bowel movement. Used to domestic niceties like toilets, he tries to have a BM – surrounded by an audience.
Set-up: I use this clip after we have talked about the physiological aspects of second stage. It helps me introduce the emotional aspects of pushing, and how our environment and feelings can affect second stage.
Breakdown: As Boog and Elliot work their way through the forest, Boog recognizes his body’s need to have a BM. Unsure of his surroundings, and feeling nervous about not having a toilet, he asks Elliot for advice. Elliot suggests Boog tries to poop in the woods. Willing to give it a shot, Boog finds a private place to get comfortable and go. Instantly a bunch of bunnies show up and start watching him. Boog tenses up and starts shooing the bunnies away, but they stay. Elliot escorts the bunnies away and leans against a tree, not realizing now he is interrupting Boog. He then asks Boog if he is finished, when it is obvious Boog hasn’t had a chance to relax, feel safe, and go. Two chipmunks from the trees above, also watching, place a bet on whether Boog will be able to poop or not, providing further distraction. More animals appear here and there, ruining any attempt at peace and quiet Boog needs for focus. A skunk lets him know he is sitting on her house, when another skunk comes up to argue with the first. Elliot asks again if Boog is done. Boog says there is a fight happening in front of him and he’s not sure what to do. Elliot tells Boog to “mark his territory” and show the skunks “who’s boss.” Boog tries to de-escalate the lady skunks, and he ends up getting sprayed.
Pooping in the woods was totally foreign to Boog. Pushing in front of others can feel totally foreign to us. Boog needed privacy, quiet, and the ability to listen to his body (or Elliot, as he helped support Boog). Having animals appear and disappear, stare, make noises, carry on conversations, all detracted from the focus Boog needed to actively relax and successfully have a bowel movement. If we find ourselves in this situation when it is time to push, what can we do to try and make it better?
Logistics: You can find this clip on YouTube: “Open Season – Boog Poop Scene (5/10) | Movieclips,” provided by Movieclips.
I will be the first to admit virtual classes are not the reason I became a childbirth educator. I love the interaction, the group games, the mixing and mingling of people that comes with meeting people in person. I love the “a-ha” moments, the laughing, the witty remarks spontaneously uttered as the class unfolds. It is hard to get all of that out of teaching virtually right now. And I know it won’t be like this forever! Using movie clips keep classes interesting, entertaining, and informative -- and families learn. Due to the pandemic, we may never meet the people in our classes face to face, and yet we are helping them build their confidence in birth. In-person or online, that is the real goal. Do you have a favorite movie clip that you use when teaching to make a point? Share it in the comments below.
About Stacie Bingham
Stacie Bingham, LCCE, CD(DONA), CBS(LER), resides in California's fertile Central Valley. Her experience in the world of birth and babies began in 2002 and seems to never stop. She is an accredited La Leche League Leader of 18 years, a DONA International Birth Doula of 15 years, and an LCCE of 13 years. Stacie enjoys all aspects of teaching and compares being a childbirth educator to being a stand-up comic -- engaging her audience with humor and evidence so learning happens in a relaxed atmosphere. Her writings have been published in the Journal of Perinatal Education, International Doula, Leaven, New Beginnings, and Clinical Lactation. Stacie served on La Leche League of Southern California/Nevada’s Board of Directors, is the Kern County Coordinator for Postpartum Support International, and actively teaches hospital classes and private classes. Always expanding her family through rescue kittens, she is currently quarantined with her husband, three sons, girl dog and girl cat, while her oldest son is happily away at college. For more teaching tips, visit her at staciebingham.com
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