One World Birth Interview

I first connected with Toni Harman online. When she was in Canada at the midwives’ conference in Niagara Falls, I had the privilege of meeting her in person. Toni and her partner, Alex Wakeford, began One World Birth to educate and empower mothers-to-be, their loved ones, and all those concerned about pregnancy and childbirth. They are looking to start a revolution, and I am wholeheartedly on board.

Toni, how long have you been interested in pregnancy and childbirth?

Like most people, I only got really interested in pregnancy and birth when I was pregnant myself. And I only thought about making films about it after the birth of my daughter four years ago. My daughter’s birth (breech birth…then at the last minute she turned…then a failed induction…then a c-section) was frustrating because I felt “left out” of the decision-making process. I didn’t realise that I had choices, and consequently, I felt disempowered and scared. My main motivation for making films about birth is that I don’t want other parents to feel the way I did. I want to make the experience of birth better for people around the world. And through making films and utilising the power of the Internet, suddenly, I realised that I might be able to do just that.

When did you first consider starting a worldwide revolution?

While making the DOULA! documentary film, I had a lightbulb moment. I knew there was a natural birth movement happening across the globe, a movement spurred on by the work of amazing people like Sheila Kitzinger, Ina May Gaskin, and Michel Odent. But the mainstream population isn’t aware of this movement. Most people aren’t even aware there is even a problem with the obstetric model of childbirth today. My lightbulb moment was realising that we could use the latest social networking tools and the power of the Internet to help galvanise this movement to create a worldwide revolution. Our goal is to widen the discussions to involve more people and propel the issues surrounding birth into the mainstream, so that together we can create a tipping point to deliver real change.

What can readers expect to find at the new and improved One World Birth website?

Sorry, I can’t tell you that just yet because we’re about to release an exciting new video trailer that will reveal the features of the new and improved One World Birth site. But I’m so excited! It’s the next generation of the One World Birth revolution.

(Toni should write suspense, don’t you think? Now I’m even more eager for the launch. I suppose that’s the whole idea.)

When will it go live?

Sorry, I can’t give you a date just yet. All will be revealed in the trailer that will be released in the next couple of weeks.

(Suspense author in the making, I tell you.)

Until then, where can readers find the information previously posted on your site?

All the information and videos will still be on the One World Birth site, although we’ll be putting up “construction hoardings” on some parts of the site as we will build it. http://oneworldbirth.net

All the videos we have posted so far can also be found on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/realbirthstories

Tell us a little about the DOULA! film.

DOULA! is a 60-minute documentary about the work of birth and postpartum doulas. Filmed in the UK, the film shows the amazing difference having a doula can make to a mother’s birth experience, wherever they are in the world. DOULA! features three beautiful positive doula-supported births in close-up intimate detail; two of the births are home waterbirths with a third birth progressing to a hospital c-section, still shown as a positive experience for the parents. There is a separate section on the work of postpartum doulas. As the filmmaker behind DOULA!, I am incredibly proud of this film as it captures the incredible, powerful, beautiful emotions of birth. For more info or to watch the trailer, go to the film’s website: http://doulafilm.com 

I’m excited to be participating in the free screening week. Can you tell us a little about it?

I believe there’s a simple equation to do with doulas saving the world.

Here’s my theory: More people watch the DOULA! film = more people know about doulas = more people hire doulas = more people have better births = the world will be a better place.

Acting on my theory, I would love as many people as possible to watch the DOULA! film to make the world a better place. So anyone can have a screening of the DOULA! film for FREE March 22-28 as part of World Doula Week, a week designed to promote awareness of doulas. To host a free screening and to receive a free screening pack, anyone can email me at info@altofilms.com

What is one of your favourite childbirth-related quotes?

Professor of Midwifery Soo Downe says, “If we get birth right, we get the  world right. I fundamentally believe that.”

And so do I.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give an expectant mom or a woman hoping to have a baby in the near future?

Take back your birth. Be fully informed and have the best possible support, ideally a doula and a midwife.

Thank you again, Toni. And all the best with One World Birth and all your future endeavours.

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