The Babies Are Coming!

This film - Babies - to be released May 7, 2010 - follows 4 babies during their 1st year of life in four very different locations on earth:

Mongolia (which we all know is ubber pro-breastfeeding!)

Namibia (where parenting is natural and close to the earth, but risk of illness from HIV, malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea is high)

Japan (which currently has the 4th best rate of infant health & survival in the world - but where modern day culture has pushed parents to imitate American styles more more closely than ever before - often to their detriment and that of their little ones)

The United States (where we currently sit behind 44 other countries in our own infant morbidity and mortality rates - and where we continue to fall each year).

I look forward to seeing this film and have to admit my ever so slight jealousy that Alain Chabat (who also thought of the idea) got to see his visions played out on screen before I did! Ah, yes, I guess I am too busy here on the homefront playing Mom to go around filming in various regions of the world. But because Thomas Balmes chose to document this footage (based on Chabat's idea) I am interested to see what he does with it.

I do hope Balmes highlights, or at least mentions, some of the reasons that the U.S. has thee worst rates of infant death and illness of these 4 nations when HIV and malaria are factored for.

I'd like a little discussion as to the reasons that Japan has long time held rates MUCH better than the U.S., and when they started to adopt some of our birth and baby care trends, Japan's numbers became worse (although not by much as they are still 4th best in the world after Singapore, Bermuda and Sweden).

The U.S., on the other hand, has fallen (i.e. reached higher numbers of morbidity and mortality) in the past several years. We have sadly dropped from being ranked 33rd in the world a couple years ago, to 45th in the world (according to 2009 CIA statistics of infant mortality).

Namibia already had high rates of infant death and illness due to perils like HIV, malaria, and U.S. companies' imposed pressure to artificially feed babies amidst poor water conditions - increasing malnutrition and diarrhea. When Americanized birthing styles and mass immunizations (sometimes with good intentions but outdated ingredients or 'left-overs' from the U.S.) started to be imposed on mothers/babies in Namibia, rates of morbidity and mortality started to climb even further. I have not studied this subject enough to know the explanations and solutions, or even to dissect the causes for this occurrence, but it may deserve our attention.

There ARE reasons for morbidity and mortality statistics to exist as they do. I believe it would do us some good to recognize them for what they are -- especially as we live in a nation that likes to think we have it all figured out... obviously we are doing something wrong and the statistics are in our face to prove it, should we ever venture to tune into them.

[Babies official site]


  1. That looks SO good! - Do you think we will get it here in the UK?

  2. I was a midwives assistant before. I believe that all of our inducing labour,and ripping babies from the wombs of their mothers with forceps,and c-sections,drugs given to the mothers are some of the main reasons why we in the U.S. have high infant mortality rates. It's pathetic how interfering we are here! Then people wanna act like were so intelligent to have babies in hospitals with all this going on plus sick people all around. I hated my hospital birth but felt trapped into it because of a fibroid tumor I had in my uterus when I was pregnant it was difficult to find a reasonably priced midwife to help me birth at home! :(
    I'd really like to see this movie just to see the differences in living.

  3. I saw this movie tonight and it is awesome. It is NOT like most movies, rather it's more like an album of moving pictures: a 90 minute series of moments in the lives of the four title "characters". There is no dialogue, no narration, no facts, no explanations. Cultures, parenting styles, home life, etc. are only compared visually. The only sounds you hear (except the soundtrack) come from the camera's single mic; it sounds like background noise over a cell phone, sometimes understandable, sometimes not. The whole film has a very "fly on the wall" feel to it. Things you would expect to see (like frequent BF in Mongolia and others) are not prevalent. The births are not shown, except you see the Mongolian boy born from an oblique angle over the mother's leg. The focus is on the babies themselves, and very little else.

    It is not the film for everyone, even in the Birth, etc. communities. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful film. It brings a lot of things forward in an implicit manner, rather than explicitly coming out and saying them. It stays very politically neutral, keeping away from "This is wrong/right" and just showing "This is what is." I think it is very valuable for opening dialogues and well worth watching.



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