A film about families that choose to give birth at home, the midwives and medical professionals who work with them, and a system that works against them.
This film has beautiful birth stories and vital information for anyone considering giving birth in Australia and around the world.
The two-year period in which the film was made has seen huge changes to maternity care and home birth, it is a very exciting time to be following this issue. As a home birth mum I have given birth under public and private maternity models in Australia and the UK. The births of my first two children were the most empowering and joyous moments of my life respectively. Most home birth mothers have similar stories. However, in Australia, it is almost impossible to choose a home birth. In fact, in 2009, it almost became illegal.
I have two daughters and I realised that in 20 years’ time they may not be able to choose a home birth, even if they wanted to. I wrote them a heart-felt letter offering them all the information and advice that I could find to help them make empowering choices. This letter became the film.
Our society is slowly learning that we need to take responsibility for our own health. Part of this movement is women taking responsibility for their own births, grabbing back the reins of choice. After all no one else actually delivers the baby – not the doctor or the midwife. The mother delivers the baby, just as all female mammals, for millions of years. I have met many amazing mothers who have kindly opened their hearts and lives to share the most important and personal experience of their lives. And we have interviewed top experts from around the world on both sides on the debate. The evidence is mounting and awareness is growing about the benefits of a natural physiological childbirth. And yet it is getting harder and harder to have a natural birth within the hospital system.
As it stands today in 2011, women are by and large terrified of giving birth. We have a 33 per cent epidural rate, up to 70 per cent in some private hospitals. Our Caesarian rate is 30 per cent, and in some private hospitals as high as 50 per cent, (the World Health Organization recommendation is 15 per cent). 50 per cent of women in private hospitals are also having their labours accelerated. 15 per cent of women suffer postnatal depression and 6 per cent suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Moment of Birth Further, If we take, surgeon, midwife, researcher and the father of birthing centres: Michel Odent’s definition of natural birth being that “you don’t cut the cord until after the placenta is delivered”, then we are at a rate of less than 1 per cent for natural birth.
And that 1 per cent only happens at home.
So are we saying all women should have a home birth? Of course not. Some women are high risk and can’t as they require medical support to have healthy outcomes. Some women would just never want to. The most important factor is choosing where, and with whom, to give birth is: where do you feel most safe, supported and cared for. For some women that is having a doctor down the corridor and being next to a machine that goes ‘ping’. For others it is in their own home with a midwife who has led their care for the last 9 months. The problem is that one of these choices has insurance and funding available and the other does not. We must have all the facts about risks, safety and benefits of all choices of birthing, as well as affordable access to qualified experienced midwives. With so many horror stories being told in our ‘fear based’ culture of birth, I felt it was vital to share facts with all families (or families to be!) about the physical and emotional benefits of choice and an empowering birth, and to dispel some antiquated beliefs and myths around birth. As a film maker I am compelled to tell stories. There is nothing quite as enthralling as a good birth story. Every birth story is unique, because it is the start of someone’s life story.