This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Documentary: Mother May I?
Documentary: Mother May I?
Consent begins at birth.
Consent begins at birth. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
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"I thought I was crazy."
One-third of women describe their births as traumatic. They're also saying they were shamed and silenced afterwards when they tried to talk about how they were treated or how they feel.
"I didn't even know I was allowed to say no."
This situation is urgent. Every day, more women and birthing people are failed by a system that hurts and traumatizes them--especially women of color and other marginalized groups.
"But at least you have a healthy baby."
It's not true that you have to choose between a healthy baby and a healthy mom. In fact, we know outcomes are better for both babies and moms when providers safeguard mothers' mental and emotional well-being.
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."- Alice Walker
As consumers, we have so much more power than we realize! Public outcry is the only way great social change happens. This project is a chance to take our sadness, anger, and frustration and turn it into ACTION for CHANGE. We are making a film to reach the masses, representing people from all backgrounds and walks of life. We want to bring to light what is happening in maternity care, break the taboos that keep women silent, and present specific solutions.
What We Need
In order to create a beautiful, smart, high-quality movie by talented and experienced professionals, we need your tax-deductible donation. We are looking for a paradigm shift in the birth world, and we know the power of film to help make that happen.
We’ve already invested thousands of dollars of our own money to get this off the ground. Here is where your money will go:
- Production manager
- Sound editing services
- Travel, transportation, and craft services for crew
- Graphic design and music
- Spanish translation services
We are well on our way to a finished product! Our team has shot around 20 hours of footage and interviewed more than fifteen experts and survivors, including Caroline & JT Malatesta, their lawyer, survivors of birth trauma, a birth doula, a Labor & Delivery nurse, and a psychologist who specializes in PTSD. The funds we are raising now will allow us to move forward with a film to shift culture, uncovering WHY this is happening in order to heal it. We plan to interview more professionals in the medical field, experts on trauma and the law, more survivors, and others to provide a fair and just perspective on this topic--bringing it to light once and for all.
Our Amazing Team
We are so proud of our committed and compassionate crew members.
Hi! I’m Cristen and before I got pregnant in 2011, I was a senior associate at a top public affairs firm in Baltimore, Maryland. We were the go-to shop for the most complex local and state projects involving public and political controversy. Hospital, real estate development, transportation, and energy clients came to us when traditional solutions fell short. We gave them audacious out-of-the-box thinking powered by old-school grassroots organizing, meticulous diplomacy behind the scenes, and an embrace of the power of media in all its forms. And we won over and over again. I learned how bold, creative strategy can bring people together to accomplish the impossible.
In the midst of all this, I entered the maternity care system as a patient and saw quite the opposite: a system constrained by fear and old beliefs. In fact, I switched hospitals the day before I gave birth because I was getting so much pressure to have an induction no one could give me a good reason for. The care I received from the midwife I switched to--respectful and compassionate--changed my life.
Since then and as the founder of Birth Monopoly, I've worked with thousands of birthing people, passionately advocating for their rights. I joined Improving Birth as vice president in 2012 and started an emergency hotline for women facing threats to their legal rights in childbirth. I created a viral consumer campaign to “Break the Silence” on trauma and abuse in childbirth as well as co-created the Exposing the Silence Project to help put obstetric violence and the maternity care crisis in national media. Today, I work with birth workers, medical professionals, parents, lawyers, and advocates all over the country, and I have real hope for change. Just recently, I presented to the OB/GYN departments of an entire hospital system about birth trauma from the consumer perspective. Change is coming! Please join us in making it happen--we can do so much better for our moms, babies, and families!
Hey, I’m Katie Rogers, an Alabama native, and writer and director of Mother May I. I’m an independent filmmaker who produced and directed the feature length documentary, CarLess in L.A., which screened at the New Urban Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2016. I also have made several short films including Half Pint and Bootleg Betties, both Official Selections for Sidewalk Film Festival 2017 and 2018, respectively. I’m a graduate of Vanderbilt University, with a BA in English; and I’ve studied film and story with the New York Film Academy, UCLA Extension, University of New Orleans at Charles University in Prague, and at King’s College in London.
When Cristen and Caroline approached me to make this film, I was humbled, intrigued, and ready to find out more. Little known to me, while filming the 4-minute version, I realized that my own birth could be labeled as “traumatic,” but I never thought to call it that. After all, I was “fine,” and yes, thankfully, my baby was born healthy. So if I had a traumatic birth, how many other women have? It turns out: way, way, way too many.
I believe in the power of film to educate, inspire, and ultimately to heal. I believe Mother May I in particular has the potential to completely shift the worldview around women and birth.
I look forward to bringing you an in-depth look at this topic, handled with care and love for all the mamas and babies out there that are looking for answers themselves.
Hi, I'm Caroline, a mother of four. During the birth of my last child, I was assaulted and permanently injured. As horrible as my physical injury was, the emotional injury from being treated as less-than-human during birth was that much worse. My hospital's dismissive response afterwards only added to the trauma. In 2016, I received the ultimate validation of a jury verdict. As a result, I heard from hundreds of women who had experienced similar treatment, and I realized I couldn't stop at my verdict. I'm well aware of the role my privilege played in getting justice, and I want nothing more than for my story to be used to give a voice to women who don't have one. I'm now the president of The Birth Monopoly Foundation, which is producing the film.
Those of us who have suffered birth trauma know that even when we are silenced, that nagging feeling doesn't go away. Deep in our guts, we know what happened to us was wrong. When you are told "all that matters is a healthy baby" or "birth is unpredictable, so you must be flexible," remind yourself that you love your child more than anyone else in the world. You aren't speaking up because you are ungrateful; you are speaking up because you care about your baby. When a mother's emotional health suffers, her baby suffers, too. In the course of this campaign, we will be calling on you to tell your story and use the simple power of your voice to help us stop this abuse.
Thank you to our volunteers who have given so generously of their time to help us get this film made! With their help, we are also committed to:
- Public education: Throughout production, we will host several online campaigns to provide free information about legal rights and birth trauma as well as a resource list for people who need support.
- College outreach: We are creating materials for college professors with the intent of getting the film and guided discussion in 1,000 college classrooms around the country.
Volunteer Coordination: Christina Libby
Social Media: Bess English, Lavena Purdom Fisette, Chelsea Pennington, Lindsay Askins
Media: Sara Conrad
Fundraising: Chante Perryman
College Outreach: Elizabeth Farmer, Meagan Thompson
Trauma Support: Nekole Shapiro
Be sure to follow the project at www.facebook.com/birthmonopoly!
Risks and challenges
Funding is the only challenge at this point--interview subjects are on standby and a wonderful team is at the ready. All of the pieces are in place to move forward immediately on this project!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter