Birth As We Know It

DVD by Elena Vladimirova Tonetti

“Birth as we know it.” DVD by Elena Vladimirova Tonetti. Chico, California: Birth into Being, 2006. Approximately 200 minutes including special features. $49.95. Review by J. Steven Svoboda.

Elena Vladimirova, formerly known as Elena Tonetti, has created a remarkable DVD that explores “conscious birth.” Conscious birth seems not to be a cut-and-dried birthing technique but rather refers to a broader perspective encompassing such possible features as water birth, natural birth, home birth, use of midwives and doulas, absence of circumcision, absence of episiotomy, and indeed, absence of physicians from the birth process. Both mother and father will bring all of themselves to the ideal conscious birth, loving their baby beyond the power of words to convey and welcoming him or her into the world with the gentlest and most loving introduction possible.

This DVD is deeply, at times almost painfully, moving and is profoundly worth viewing for all intactivists. While only six minutes of the film relate directly to circumcision, this segment is fascinating in itself, and is well-integrated into the flow of the film as a whole. Handily enough, this portion can also be easily located in the feature film thanks to its inclusion among the menu’s special features.

In my opinion, the film would have benefited from being edited by a sympathetic outside party. The same message could easily be conveyed by a film shorter than this one’s 200 total minutes (75 minutes for the feature film), and for most people the effectiveness would be improved. I also found Ms. Vladimirova’s Russian accent distracting, especially given the length of the video. It would feel more appropriate and also more ear-friendly for voices to be provided by a variety of speakers, perhaps by both men and women, and certainly by some for whom English is a native tongue.

Overall, “Birth as we know it” is an excellent film, and is highly recommended to all people interested in genital integrity and the process by which babies enter our world.