[Giving Birth: Margaret Mead 2]

An interview with cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead for the documentary Giving Birth: Four Portraits, directed by Julie Gustafson and John Reilly.

00:24Copy video clip URL Mead discusses the effects of anesthetizing the mother and removing the possibility of breastfeeding on a baby, including on the next generation. 

02:10Copy video clip URL Mead ascribes this to men “[taking] over childbirth” and turning it into a profession that is convenient for the doctor rather than the mother or the baby. 

03:25. Discussions of myths expression jealousy or suspicion towards women’s reproductive capacity, as well as the professionalization of birthing and the various factors that go into a lack of support for breastfeeding.

04:58Copy video clip URL Mead talks about the physical position women are placed in by modern medicine, which is much harder on the mother. 

06:32Copy video clip URL Mead cautions against extremist positions in birth, that to declare the necessity of full anesthesia for birth or to oppose their use entirely are both “pure ideology.”

07:55Copy video clip URL Mead discusses the Bible’s treatment of birth as painful, and the need to treat childbirth as work. 

10:12Copy video clip URL The dangers of childbearing before modern medicine.

13:12Copy video clip URL People are told that childbirth is terribly painful and that anesthetic is necessary. 

15:03Copy video clip URL Societies in which women are required to dramatize ideas that men entertain about childbirth. Mead expresses the utility of apprenticeships, in which women spend time with pregnant friends or relatives to learn the process of childbearing and to be less afraid of birth. 

18:23Copy video clip URL The history of the “non-involvement of the father” in birth and in caring for the infant, going back thousands of years. 



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