This film looks at deficiencies and
improvements in perinatal (the period immediately before and after
birth) care in the National Health Service in the early 1980s. In
London, a demonstration of radical midwives protests against the
depersonalisation of birth in large hospitals, and a speaker urges
women to 'claim birth as an intimate personal act'.
The film then looks at three examples of
improved maternity care in the UK. At Sighthill, a working-class
suburb of Edinburgh, perinatal care has moved from a central
hospital to a local clinic. Statistics show that high child
mortality rates in the area, previously seen as an inevitable
function of social class, have dramatically decreased due to the
In St George's Hospital in Tooting has a large
maternity clinic, but unlike in other hospital environments,
patients are allowed to carry their own notes. Sister Caroline
Flint (who has since been president of the Royal College of
Midwives and is one of the UK's most prominent independent
midwives) talks about her objectives at the clinic: reducing
waiting times, improving communication, and allowing mothers to see
a doctor of their choice. Flint also talks about rebuilding
midwives' confidence in their own abilities.
At King's College Hospital London a small
maternity clinic for teenage girls has been established. Dr
Madelaine Saunders talks about making hospital care a positive
experience, giving young people a say about their own bodies, and
resisting automatic adoption of their children.
The film concludes that better communication
and positive attitudes of healthcare staff makes an enormous
difference to perinatal care, the outcome of which is 'happier
mothers and healthier babies'.